PDR, or paintless dent removal, requires skill and patience to execute correctly. This repair process is a great way to return a dented body panel to a like-new condition without having to repaint or replace parts. While not every ding, dent, and crease can be repaired this way, there are many cosmetic issues that can be repaired using this method.
The process requires a bit of feel and it can be helpful to work with a panel that has not been damaged to get the feel for the flex and give of parts of the car first, before working with the damaged section of the car. Once you have a feel for the technique, these tips and tricks will make your PDR process quick and easy.
PDR Tips and Tricks
This is not an exhaustive list of the tips and tricks that can be used in this complicated and skilled repair process, but it’s a great starting point to get you on the road to being a skilled PDR professional.
1. Always Assess the Damage First
You should never promise any customer that you can repair a dent using PDR until you have seen the damage and have assessed it fully. The size of the dent and the placement can affect the outcome of the repair and some locations are just not suitable for this type of fix.
Make sure that you put lots of light on the area before you start examining it. Paint flaking or paint damage can be hard to see on certain paint colors and you want to be sure that the paint is in good order before you even attempt to do this kind of repair.
Also, make sure that you can access the dent easily. Sometimes a dent will look like you can reach all parts of it without issue, but once you assess the location, you might find that you can’t actually get to a section that would be required to fix the dent.
2. Pick the Right Tools for PDR Success
This may seem obvious, but there are actually hundreds of tools out there that you can pick from to do PDR fixes to cars. There are always two factors that you need to use to help define the tools that you want to buy and also the tools that you want to use for a repair. You will always need to consider reach and leverage.
You will need a good balance of reach and leverage tools in your toolkit if you want to reliably offer PDR repairs to customers. While you can get creative with things that you have laying around like broom handles, you really should make sure that you buy the right tools for the job to guarantee good results.
Common tools like hockey stick style bars are a must-buy if you want to have access to dents in odd locations or you want an easy way to match the shape of many curves and angles of car body panels. Screw tip tools are also necessary and you might need some straight bars to be able to access locations that do not require a curve.
3. Work Slowly To Get Your PDR Technique Right
No matter how often you have done this process, you will always want to work slowly. Test pressures out gently before exerting the force needed to actually remove the dent.
You are often going to be reaching into tight spaces or odd locations to access a dent, and you might be surprised at how hard it can be to actually get the right pressure in place before you push out the dent or crease.
Moving slowly and being meticulous is really the only way to handle this kind of repair and you will thank yourself later when you do not have to do full bodywork on a panel that you pushed on incorrectly. Save yourself time by finding the right angle of access and the right pressure for each job through patient work.
4. Protect Head Lamps and Other Fragile Surfaces
Remember that you are going to be applying force near and around certain more fragile parts of the car. If you are not working around the center of a body panel, there will almost always be other parts adjacent to the dent or crease that could become scratched or broken by your tools.
Make sure that you assess your access points to try and avoid damage to glass or plastic surfaces, but if that is not possible, take care to tape over or remove parts that could become damaged. Creating a whole new repair is not your goal and should be avoided at all costs.
5. Invest in the Right Lights for The Best PDR Outcome
You really can’t hope to assess the dents and dings you are being asked to fix without the right lights. You will often have to work in spaces that are dark and confined and without light, this work would have to be done by feel only.
An additional use of light for PDR is external lighting. Light cast over a dent can show you how far you need to push to get the alignment correct. This can be a big help with large body panels that are flexible enough that you might be able to actually push a bubble into them while fixing the dent.
Lighting and lighting stands or cradles can make your job so much easier and are worth every penny of your investment.
PDR Tips and Tricks: Practice Makes Perfect
This type of repair requires quite a bit of feel and practice to be able to do it reliably and with good results. Once you have practiced repairing various kinds of dents, make sure to help yourself out by getting the right range of tools for the jobs you will be asked to work on.
Preparation and patience are key both in the learning portion of the PDR process, as well as when fixing damaged vehicles. Follow these tips and tricks, and you will be able to start using PDR to save your clients from paying for bodywork and repainting on simple creases and dents.