A Guide to Paintless Dent Repair: Answering Common Questions

A Guide to Paintless Dent Repair: Answering Common Questions


Paintless dent repair — PDR — isn’t anything new. It’s been around since 1931 and has been adopted by the industry as the first line of defense against most shallow, small, everyday dents.

Since no heavy in-depth work is required, the PDR technique costs less time and money, and is a more nurturing way to deal with most dent repairs. It also preserves the original, custom paint done by the factory and hence maintains the value of the car.
If you are new to PDR solutions, it’s likely that you have a lot of questions. Through this brief guide, we are answering some of the most common questions people often have about PDR processes and limitations. Read on to find out everything you need to know about paintless dent repair.

Common PDR Queries

If you’ve ever had to deal with paint repairs, you know they are expensive and time-consuming. Even a small dent can put a big one in your budget. But with dents being so common, and so easily caused by any little thing, it’s just something that you have to deal with as a car owner.

So, do your homework and use this article to learn the basics of PDR to understand why it’s a more resource-friendly way to treat most common dent repairs.

How does PDR work?

Paintless dent repair works by massaging the metal back into its original shape. Using specialized tools and light, technicians will reach behind the panel where the dent is, and coax the metal to return to its pre-dent condition. As the metal regains its original shape, the paint also decompresses and covers the surface like before.

The process can take up to a few hours to a couple of days, depending on how difficult the dent is. Since it’s a minimally invasive procedure, it remains gentle to the vehicle body as well as the environment.

What kind of dents can be repaired with PDR?

As long as the dents are shallow, and the paint hasn’t chipped or cracked, the dent can be repaired with PDR tools. The size or type or placement of the dent, while important in some cases, do not matter too much. If the technician can reach behind the dent to push it out, and the paint isn’t broken, the dent is repairable with PDR.

Why does PDR not work with larger dents?

As we said above, the size of the dent does not matter a lot in some cases. But in the cases where the metal under the dent has become stretched, the dent may no longer be a viable candidate for PDR.

It matters because the metal has memory. When the damage to the metal is not too severe, it’ll want to return to its original shape. With extreme dents, especially when the paint has started to crack too, the metal gains a new memory. So it will need to be reshaped and repainted so your car can look brand new.

How long does paintless dent removal take?

It mostly depends on how many dents we are dealing with, the severity of each individual dent, and how accessible the area behind each dent is. If it’s a shallow dent with no serious damage to the panel, it can be repaired with PDR tools in about a few minutes.
However, vehicle bodies suffer dents almost every day. From the parking lot to the grocery store traffic, any little thing can put a dent in your car. These little dents usually remain invisible unless specialized lighting is used.

When you bring your car in for a paintless dent repair process, the technicians would use special lighting to spot all the dents and fix them. If the dents are many or difficult to reach, thorough PDR can even take a few days to complete. Usually, though, most PDR jobs can be finished while you are at work or doing your weekly grocery run.

Can I do paintless dent repair at home?

If you have got the right tools at home, and have the experience and skill to do it, sure you can try a DIY paintless dent repair. But we do not recommend it for two reasons.

  • Number 1, PDR may sound easy but it’s not. Years of experience go into gaining the level of skill where a technician can perform an excellent PDR job. So, if you do not have that skill level, you may be disappointed with your at-home PDR results.
  • Number 2, and the most important reason. You may compromise your vehicle’s warranty if you tamper with any repair work yourself that damages your car in any way. Your insurer may revoke the warranty and you may end up with a damaged car and no car insurance.
  • It’s always better to let an expert handle your vehicle repair jobs, especially when the job doesn’t cost a lot, to begin with.

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    Which body panels can be fixed with paintless dent repair?

    Body panels play a huge role when a technician has to determine if a dent on it can be treated with PDR. If the tech cannot reach behind the panel to access the back of the dent, PDR won’t work.

    It also matters what kind of materials and metals are body panels made of. However, in most cases, hoods, doors, front fenders, quarter panels, and various areas of the roof are good candidates for PDR jobs.

    What kind of materials in body panels are treatable with PDR?

    The materials used in your vehicle’s body may decide whether PDR will work or not. This is a small list of materials that do not work well with PDR:

  • Plastic
  • Carbon fiber
  • Fiberglass
  • Old cars with decades-old paint that isn’t malleable like modern paint. Generally, though, if the panels are made with most kinds of alloy and sheet metals like steel, paintless dent repair can work.

    Does PDR affect your car’s paint or vice versa?

    It’s practically in the name. Paintless dent repair does not impact your vehicle’s paint in any negative way whatsoever. If anything, it’s extremely gentle to your car’s body and the expensive paint on it. The entire process of PDR depends on the integrity of the car’s paint. If the paint is intact, PDR will work. If it’s chipped or cracked, you need a traditional repair job.

    Furthermore, it also matters what kind of paint your car has. If it’s any of the modern automotive paints, you’re fine. Because PDR does not work on most classic paints that do have any elasticity in them. Modern paints can stretch and back when maneuvered with PDR tools. Most automotive paints that are decades old do not have that quality and won’t respond to PDR coaxes.

    Is it true that some kinds of vehicles cannot be repaired with PDR?

    While paintless dent repair does have its limitations, the types of vehicles it can work on aren’t one of them. As long as your vehicle is made of alloy, steel, aluminum, or other sheet metals, almost all small, shallow, everyday dents can be fixed with PDR.

    It’s a preferred repair method for all kinds of vehicles whether they are made with unibody construction or have body-on-frame. If the PDR tech can access the area behind the dent, by removing panels and other protective sheets and trims, the type of vehicle doesn’t play a huge role in whether it’s PDR-reparable or not.

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    What are the common limitations of PDR?

    PDR — the most sustainable and efficient dent removal process — comes with a few limitations. The situations where paintless dent removal cannot work or may not be the best option, include:

  • If the body paint has in any way got broken or chipped or cracked due to the impact of the dent.
  • When the dented metal is located somewhere near the edge of the panel, pulling the panel away or coaxing the dent out will also damage the edge of the panel.
  • The dent has torn the metal or has sharp edges that cannot be smoothed out.
  • If the dent is an area that has previously been damaged due to anything.
  • Please also remember that PDR repairs the dent but the metal underneath doesn’t get any restoration. Another impact to the same area may be exceedingly damaging to the body. If something like that happens, try to go for a traditional body repair rather than another PDR job.


    PDR has been a popular dent repair method for years now. Whether you are trying to save money or being conscious about preserving environmental resources. PDR gives you an eco-friendly and sustainable way to repair most dents from your car at the fraction of the cost of a traditional repair job.

    Yet, it’s not a magical solution and comes with certain caveats. If you are looking to repair small, everyday dents, PDR is what you put your money on. For metal or paint damage to the car, a comprehensive restoration job might be better.

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