from Goss’ Garage by Pat Goss

Thump! Oh crap, another one. Dents and dings come from stupid, inconsiderate drivers and lots of uncontrollable things like an unmanned shopping cart rolling across the parking lot right into your car. My personal favorite is the jackass who slams his door open against yours. Even worse if you comment these low-lifes may thump your car again “just for grins”! But dents and dings aren’t just from discourteous drivers they come from falling, flying, thrown, blown, run over objects that hit your car too. Whatever the cause, sooner or later, cars get dents.

Even being extremely careful won’t always help. I usually park so far away from the crowd I need GPS coordinates and a map for the trek to the store. Recently I parked in the perfect spot completely safe, not another car for at least twenty spaces in every direction. But when I returned I couldn’t open my door because some decrepit, broken-down, bone-yard-refugee clunker was parked within six inches of my door. I had to get in on the passenger side, climb over the console so I could move the car to look for damage. For once I was lucky, not a mark!

Lucky once but not lucky always, so when that inevitable door ding arrives you should consider Paintless Dent Repair or PDR. PDR is a cheaper way to fix small damage that hasn’t broken the surface of the paint. Without PDR, even fixing tiny dents is expensive.

In a traditional repair any damage requires straightening, filling, sanding, painting, and a substantial bill. With Paintless Dent Repair there is no filling, sanding, or painting so the cost is lower and the problems associated with matching paint color and texture are gone.

Furthermore PDR can be done nearly anywhere, even at your home or office. However, all is not perfect with this system; PDR only works on dents where the metal isn’t stretched or creased and where the paint isn’t scratched. Dents from actual accidents are typically not repairable with PDR.

PDR relies on the metal’s memory, or the fact that metal wants to return to its original shape. This works as long as the metal hasn’t been stretched which gives it a new shape and a new memory. Done properly a PDR repair will be nearly invisible. But before buying PDR make sure it’s a quality shop, get an estimate and disclosure of possible negatives.

Never deal with anyone who offers an on-the-spot repair for an absurdly low price. They’re crooks who collect some of the money before starting. They sand your car’s paint to “rough it up so filler will stick” then apply a coat of body filler. Next, the scammer says he has to wait for the filler to harden so he’s going for a soda. He walks off with a fist full of your money never to be seen again. But not only have you thrown away your money he’s made the damage way more costly to fix properly.

Also if you watch late night television you’ll likely see an infomercial promoting tools to do your own PDR. They make it sound so easy you may be tempted but save your money, PDR requires enormous skill and finesse. No matter how many tools you buy, without training and practice if you try a do-it-yourself PDR job I guarantee you’ll screw it up. PDR is not do-it-yourself and it’s not for every dent but it does warrant looking into for those pesky little dings. Pat Goss