Basic Oil Change Tips

From the first car I owned, until just recently, I have always changed the engine oil. My father taught me how. He was a truck mechanic in the U.S. Army and then, as a civilian, he worked in plant maintenance. I would say that my father passed on the ‘mechanic gene’ to my older brother and me.

When it comes to changing the oil in one’s car, the first thing needed is to consult the owner’s manual to find the type of filter and how many quarts of oil are needed. Other items are a good drain pan, and funnel. These can be purchased at the auto parts store. It’s a good idea to have a basic set of tools. An extra tool that makes oil changes easier, in my opinion, is an oil filter wrench (specialty tool). I use a socket and ratchet set when I change oil. I’ve also known people who would use an adjustable wrench. I don’t consider this a good idea because you can slip off of the drain plug and damage the flats.

At the auto parts store, you can look up the type of filter required for your car. I would recommend buying the oil in a five quart container so you can pour your used oil into it after the new oil is poured into your car’s engine.

Once you’ve got your supplies and tools, it’s time to get under the car. You might not fit and you’ll have to jack the car up. One other good investment would be ramps. I always save a big piece of cardboard to lay on when I’m under a car. I have a creeper too, but it sets to high for some cars I’ve worked on. Start your car and let the engine idle for about 5 minutes. That way the oil is warm and will drain much easier.

Crawl under your car and make sure the drain plug, you’ll be removing, is on the engine pan. Some new cars have a transmission drain plug. Have your tools with you when you get under the car, and select the proper socket to use. It may be metric or standard. Make sure to have your drain pan close by when you remove the plug. When the oil from the plug hole is down to a few drips, re-install the plug. Locate the engine oil filter. If you’re not sure what it looks like, take the new one out of the box. Some filters are easy to get to, to change, others are not. Use an oil filter wrench, if you have one, and turn the filter counter-clockwise to remove it. Make sure the drain pan is under the filter, if possible, to catch the oil spilling out. Next wipe some oil on the seal of the oil filter and install it, turning it clockwise until it’s tight, then turn it 3/4 of a turn more, this insures it won’t leak.

The next step is to put oil in the engine. Most engines take 5 quarts with a filter change, but consult your owner’s manual. Also, double-check you are pouring the oil into the engine and not some other service port. I know it sounds crazy but it does happen.

Once you have serviced the engine with oil start it up and check for oil leaks by getting under the car, the drain plug and filter should not be leaking. No leaks and oil pressure in the green? Congratulations on a job well done.

Fiberglass Filler – What is it and Why Use it on Auto Body Repairs?

What Is Fiberglass?

Raw fiberglass come in a soft fabric like material. When saturated with liquid resin and harder, it becomes hard and very strong. There are not too many fiberglass auto parts on modern day cars, as they have all started using other composites like SMC and Carbon Fiber. However, fiberglass was on early model corvettes, truck hoods, and many other parts. There are still aftermarket parts that are manufactured from fiberglass and it still used for boats and jet skis.

The Difference Between Fiberglass and Fiberglass Filler

Fiberglass filler comes in a can and is mixed with a cream hardener. It mixes a lot like regular body filler, but it is thicker and a little harder to mix. The filler actually has fiberglass mixed in it. It comes short hair and long hair. This is the length of the fiberglass that is mixed in the filler. Both provide excellent waterproof properties as they do not absorb water. Both fiberglass fillers are stronger than regular body filler. The long hair filler provides the most strength out of the two. However, these fillers are very difficult to sand. The filler is also thick, which makes it hard to level and smooth like regular body filler.

Why Use Fiberglass Filler If It’s So Difficult To Sand

The reason we use fiberglass filler in auto body repair is not really the added strength, but for the waterproof properties. It is recommended to apply a thin layer of fiberglass filler over any welding that is performed. Body filler absorbs moister, which will leads to corrosion and rust. By using the fiberglass, we eliminate the moister absorption problem. Since our main purpose is to seal the welded area, the short hair fiberglass is sufficient for the application.

What Can Fiberglass Filler Be Used On

This filler can be used over bare metal or fiberglass.

Finishing The Repair

As I mentioned, fiberglass does not sand well. That is why I recommend only applying a small amount to the welded areas and rough sanding it. After this is done, you can apply body filler on the top of the fiberglass filler and finish the repair as you normally would using body filler.

Warning

You should always wear proper protective equipment when sanding any filler. However, extreme caution should be taken when sanding fiberglass products. It not only itches and irritate your skin, but it is extremely unhealthy to breathed the fiberglass. Be certain to wear an approved dust respiration, gloves, eye protection, and you may even want to wear a disposable paint suit. If some of the fiberglass does get on your skin, take a cold shower. This will help keep your pores small and allow the fiberglass to wash off.

Auto Body Dent Repair – Developing A Repair Plan

Developing A Repair Plan

In this article we are going to review how to remove a dent from an automotive part. We’ve determined that the panel is mild steel and repairing the damage would be a better choice than to replace the panel. Now we need to develop a repair plan and decide which repair method to use on the damage.

First In Last Out

The first thing that you want to determine is the direction of damage. This is important so you can reverse the damage during repairs. In collision repair we have a general rule “the first in last out rule.” This means that the direct damage or point on impact is the area first hit in an accident, which makes it the first in. Therefore, this should be that last area to repair. Direct damage is the most obvious damage as it is easy to visually see. If you try to pull the direct damage first, you will stretch the metal, pull highs in the metal, and still have lows. You are basically going to chase your damage around while work hardening the metal until the metal become to work hardened, brittle and cracks.

Direct and Indirect Damage

Indirect damage is the damage that is caused by the direct damage. For example, as the point of impact is pushed in, it causes the surrounding metal to slightly move as well. If pushed far enough, the indirect damage can cause misaligned body gaps, cracked seam sealer, and/or popped spot welds. The indirect damage is less noticeable as it may not be visually noticeably without close observation. The indirect damage is the damage the happened last during the accident, therefore, this damage should be repair first. Always remember the “first in last out “rule when developing a repair plan. This will save you hours of time and frustration when it is all done.

Choosing a Repair Method

Once the damage is analyzed and you have determined the direction of damage, and the direct and indirect damage. Now it is time to decide which repair method is the best choice for the repair. If you can get to both sides of the panel a hammer and dolly method may be the easiest repair method. If you can not gain access to both sides of the panel a stud-nail gun may be a better choice. Other considerations, such as corrosion protection and noise preventions should be considered as well. This will be covered at a later time.

Don’t Force The Metal, But Rather Roll The Metal Back To Its Shape

Regardless of the repair method, the same principle apply. Start with the indirect damage and pull out on the lows and push in on the highs. You should roll the metal back into shape, rather than try to force it back into shape. Forcing the metal back into its shape may result in highs and stretched metal. condition. Pulling on the lows while rolling the highs out of the metal is the key to metal straightening, regardless of repair method used.

How I Replaced the Rusted Floor Pans in My 1962 Chevrolet Chevy II Nova

I bought my 1962 Chevy II Nova in 1988 from a friend I was serving with in the National Guard. The car was rather sound. There were really no problems and I was able to drive it home, in fact, I did no work to the car for a number of years. I would drive it to work a couple of times a week and again take it out weekends. I was really happy with the car. Three years ago, I decided to repaint it. I know I could have taken it to a body shop, but I wanted to do it myself. I wanted this to be a project my son and I could work on together. I began stripping the car down and this is the beginning of my story.

I figure I will be learning a lot during the process of restoring my Nova back to its original beauty, so I thought I would document the processes I will go through and post them online with plenty of pictures with the intent of maybe helping someone else with their project. So lets’ get started!

I have removed everything that I can remove from the body of the car. I did mount an ignition switch on the firewall so I could start the car and move it around but when the actual painting process begins I will be removing the motor and transmission. I started with the floor pans. There was a descent amount of rust in the front and just a little in the rear. The transmission hump and driveshaft tunnel were fine.

I wanted to buy the entire floor pan and replace it all but it was more expensive than I wanted and I wasn’t sure if I could handle a job quite that big. I wasn’t sure if I had the capability to cut out the entire floor and replace it without possibly twisting or contorting the car (it is a convertible). I decided to buy the left and right floor pan. This covered from the front all the way to the back. After receiving the floor pans, I spent a lot of time thinking and rethinking and strategizing about the best way to go about cutting out the old and welding in the new. Since the entire floor pan was not rusted out, I decided to cut out just the rusted part and cut out what I needed from the new replacement floor pans and weld that into place. I am very happy with this decision. By cutting out just the rusted pieces and replacing with new metal, I was able to avoid any twisting or contorting of the car and probably saved me a lot of time.

I was able to cut out the rusted areas in a couple of hours. I used pneumatic shears that worked very well. Before buying the shears, I tried several other methods such as a pneumatic saw, tin snips and aviation cutters. Trust me when I say that a cheap pair of pneumatic shears will be a lifesaver. I did use the aviation cutters for fine cutting and making small adjustment cuts.

Next I separated the front and back of my new floor pans by cutting them in half. I cut out the front part of the floor pan about 2 inches bigger than what I needed. I then placed this into the front for a test fit. When I had the replacement pan in place, I made it conform to the existing floor pan with a rubber mallet. I then used a can of white spray paint and sprayed around the perimeter of the new pan. By painting around the perimeter, I was able to see where the new pan fit after removing it from the car. I repeated this procedure for the other front side and then both rear areas. This took me about a day to complete.

The next part required welding, please be sure to observe all safety practices when welding to avoid any life altering injuries!

I was now ready to weld the replacement sheet metal into place. This is where my brother was a BIG help! He has a MIG welder. We inserted the new pans and while I held them in place, my brother spot welded each one. After each pan was tacked into place, we stepped back and studied their positions and made sure everything was exactly the way I wanted. My brother then completed the welding process until all four replacement pieces was securely welded into place. I don’t know a lot about welding, but I believe my brother had to spend additional time and take extra precautions since the sheet metal is rather thin. After the replacement floor pan pieces were securely in place, I proceeded to cover the seams with Bondo filler and then I painted the entire floor pan with a rust preventive primer. My brother and I were able to complete the welding on Saturday morning and I took the rest of the afternoon to finish the Bondo. I put several coats of paint on the floor pan over the next several days.

From the pictures on my website, you can tell that it might not be a perfectly smooth floor pan with no flaws, but I can assure you that it is a solid installation that will last many years, even longer if garaged, and will look even better once it is covered with a sound dampening material and new carpet. This worked well for my 1962 Chevy II Nova and I am sure it will work for you and your special project.

Starter Clicks But Engine Does Not Turn Over – Tech in Trunk?

If the car’s starter clicks and the engine does not turn over, this could be caused by several things. The most common cause of clicking when the car is being started is a low battery. Most people would assume that the starter is bad if it only clicks, but low-voltage can cause the starter to make this sound.

The battery is the heart of the starting and electrical system. If the battery has been drained or has a weak cell, this can cause the starter to only click. Many times the battery could just been drained due to a door left slightly open, making the dome light stay on. Other times a vanity light or a phone charger could be left on. During my time as a master auto technician, I’ve had a trustworthy co-worker close me up in the trunk so I could make sure the trunk light went off when the trunk was closed!

In order to test the battery it must have a good charge. If the battery is not charged completely the tester will indicate that it needs to be charged before testing can proceed. The first step when checking the starter and electrical system is to make sure the battery is in good condition. Most parts stores will check batteries for free. Once it’s determined the battery is good the rest of the system can then be checked. Loose or corroded connections can also cause a clicking and for the car not to start.

Starter

The starter solenoid on many Ford vehicle’s is on the inner fender well, on most other vehicles the starter solenoid will be mounted on the starter. The clicking that is heard many times is the solenoid. But low-voltage either from a drained battery, bad battery or poor connections can cause this. Most of the time if the vehicle can be jump-started the starter is okay. This would also indicate that the connections to the starter are good.

Alternator

Once the vehicle is running the alternator output can be checked. If the alternator is not charging the battery, it will be drained during the process of starting the car and driving. When the alternator is checked, the voltage and amperage output can be measured. Also the diode pattern will be checked to make sure the alternator won’t drain the battery when the engine is turned off. In the past do-it-yourselfers could disconnect the battery while the vehicle is running to check the alternator, if the car kept running the alternator was good. Doing this on computerized vehicles can be harmful. If the battery is disconnected while a computerized vehicle is running the alternator output can increase sharply allowing excess voltage to spike the computer.

Battery

When purchasing a replacement battery the cold cranking amps required for the vehicle should be checked. It’s best to purchase a battery with more cold cranking amps than the minimum required. Also when purchasing a battery you should consider if you want maintenance free or not. If the battery is hard to access or has a cover then a maintenance free battery is preferred. For instance on some Chrysler Sebrings and Chevrolet Corvettes the battery is located behind an inner fender and on a Chevrolet SSR. the battery is located underneath the bed where the spare tire would normally go. If installing the battery yourself be sure to notice which side is positive and negative in case you were sold the incorrect battery.

Terminals

The terminals should be free of corrosion and should tighten up well. Sometimes especially on import vehicles the battery terminals will be very thin and can have hairline cracks causing a poor connection. Avoid forcing the battery terminals on by tapping them. The battery casing can be damaged causing a leak, if the battery acid seeps out it can cause fast corrosion. If the battery terminal bolts will not tighten, then replacing the terminals is recommended. When the connections are tight you should not be able to twist them by hand.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Noises – Whining, Humming, Roaring

Jeep Grand Cherokees are prone to having several common mechanical problems. The problem that we cover today is with noisy differentials (rear ends). While it is acceptable for Jeep differentials to make some noise, it’s not good to ignore noises that are more than moderate or if the noise is noticeably getting louder. Usually rear end whining noises from Jeeps are rated on a scale from 1-10, anything under a 5 is acceptable and would not merit a repair. If a roaring noise is heard this is another matter, roaring noises should be looked into right away. I’ve rebuilt hundreds of rear ends and out of those, approximately 80% of them have been in Jeeps. Also the Jeeps I’ve worked on were not driven off road or abused in any way that I could see. They were mainly driven as a regular family car would be, so this leads me to conclude that this is just a common problem due to design.

Roaring noises, are one of the most common sounds a Jeep Grand Cherokee makes from the rear end. As I mentioned before, if roaring noises are heard this should be addressed as soon as possible. Typically around 45 MPH is when sounds will start coming from the rear end. If roaring is heard at all speeds or at parking lot speeds, the problem has progressed. Roaring noises are from worn and pitted bearings. Carrier bearings (which are the side bearings) are the most common bearings to fail. Next are the pinion bearings, especially if a pinion seal has been replaced at some point and the bearing preload was excessive. This means the pinion nut was tightened too much. Over-tightening the pinion nut can cause an excessive load on the pinion bearings and can wear the bearings in a short period of time. If the bearing replacement is postponed too long, metal can travel through the differential oil and damage other moving parts in the differential. This can cause accelerated wear of the ring and pinion gears. So if they are caught early enough, the bearings can be replaced without replacing the ring and pinion gears.

Ring and Pinion gears that are worn excessively make a whining or humming noise, sometimes on acceleration and sometimes on deceleration. And they are more expensive to replace than just the bearings. The ring and pinion gears can make a whining noise without a roaring noise being present from the bearings. But when replacing the ring and pinion gears the other bearings, including two pinion bearings and carrier bearings are recommended to be replaced also. The axle bearings should be inspected but they are the farthest away from the differential gears and bearings, so they most likely will be OK especially on lower mileage vehicles.

Used rear ends in my opinion should be avoided for Jeeps. The reason is because this is such a common problem, that the chances of getting a good one from a salvage yard is slim.

Noises in the parking lot only could just be a limited slip clutch (posi-traction) noise. In this case try putting an additive designed for the clutches. Ask for limited slip friction modifier or posi additive. Driving the vehicle some will allow the modifier to soak into the clutches and hopefully prevent them from grabbing.

Do You Have Plastic Shopping Bags In Front Of The Radiator?

I went out to the mailbox one morning to mail a letter.

I noticed the local sanitation truck losing several plastic Wal-Mart shopping bags.

About an hour later this guy pulls up to the shop.

His car was running hot…steam was coming from underneath

the hood.

The temperature was 110o in the shade and the humidity was

so heavy you had to have a machete just to walk around

outside…well, maybe not that thick, but it was heavy.

We raised the hood on his Thunder Chicken. “Even Ford’s

get hot in this kind of weather,” I stated.

The engine had cooled down, some, so I removed the cap from the radiator…

it was just barely low of coolant.

I told him to crank the engine and I put some water in it,

then we’d look for a leak.

As I was spraying water on top of the radiator to cool it,

I noticed a blue plastic bag, in front of the a/c condenser.

I showed it to him.

“There’s probably the reason she heated up,” I told him as I pointed to it.

“I was following a garbage truck earlier,” he said, “but

I passed him cause some trash was falling out.”

“Well, you helped him,” I said as I removed not one, but

three of the plastic shopping bags.

“How’s that?” he asked.

“You’ve been picking up what he was losing.”

He thanked me and said, “If she starts heating up again,

I’ll be back,” with a grin as he drove off.

I guess that cured it, cause he never came back.

Are You Playing Chess or Checkers?

Time is our most valuable resource. Time is more valuable than money. Money can be lost and recovered. Once we lose time we never get it back. When it comes to time management, everyone is either playing chess or checkers. The game of chess is designed for the proactive. The successful chess player is thinking two to three moves ahead compared to the checkers player who is only focused on the move directly in front of them. Which game are you playing? Let me share a story to help you decide. I was the shop manager of an automotive repair facility. I had my top technician tell me a month in advance that he was leaving my organization. He told me on May 1st that his last day would be May 31st, plenty of time to find a replacement. I began my search for a new tech on May the 30th at 4:00pm! Sadly, I was playing checkers. The question becomes, how do we avoid playing checkers and make better use of our time? Steven Covey, in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, divides time management into four quadrants. I will be reviewing these quadrants in this article. By understanding the areas that Covey highlights, we will understand what game we are really playing.

Quadrant #1 – Important & Urgent

The main reason that we end up playing checkers is that we wait until a task becomes important AND urgent before we start on it. When I needed a technician and did not start looking until the last minute, I was operating out of this quadrant. This is what leads to firefighting. Waiting until the cash flow is depleted to begin a marketing plan, and not being able to balance tires because we delayed the wheel weight order are other common examples that will put us in firefighting mode. In the past, it seemed like I drove to work in a red fire engine. If you find yourself just reacting to what the day brings, you may have a red fire engine parked in your driveway.

Quadrant #2 – Important & Non Urgent

This is the quadrant of chess players. Performing tasks while they are important BUT NOT urgent, you position yourself to control your time and not let time control you. Implementing a recruitment strategy BEFORE you have an opening, planning your marketing activities on a marketing calendar, and writing out your daily activities for the following day as you close out the current day, are examples of operating in this quadrant. We have the opportunity to help our customers play chess. We can save them time and money by communicating to them the value of investing in a maintenance schedule for their car. Coming in every three months for maintenance is important but not urgent compared to having to purchase a new engine which would fall under the first quadrant. Think about how much better our businesses would be if we were all playing the same game.

Quadrant #3 – Not important but Urgent

Daily Interruptions, and specific phone calls and emails fall into this category. Often times, a failure to effectively delegate keeps us operating in this quadrant. As business runners we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that we have to solve every concern, work on every car, and satisfy every customer ourselves. If we compare our daily activities to the grand scheme of our business vision, we may find that many of the things that we involve ourselves in are not important. I discovered this many years ago while in my first District Manager assignment. Initially, I would find myself talking to three to four customers per day regarding issues that should have been resolved at the store level. I managed seventeen locations at the time. The managers would come to me asking for my guidance and involvement on very basic issues. I would go home every day frustrated and fatigued. Then one day when one of my managers approached me with a basic issue, I asked him the following powerful question: What do YOU think we should do to resolve this? To my surprise, he had the answer. I then thanked him for handling the situation and told him to update me on the final outcome. Taking this approach allowed me to play the game I wanted and return my fire engine to the fire station where it belongs. It will do the same for you.

Quadrant #4 – Not Important & Not Urgent

Busy work, time wasters, and certain phone calls and emails would fall into this category. As an Owner, any task that is not important or urgent is a distraction. It is important for us to identify and eliminate those daily distractions that we all have. The question that we must ask ourselves is how does the activity align with the vision that I have for the business? If we can not come up with an answer then the activity falls in this quadrant and must be eliminated. We must be careful not to allow our people to spend time in this quadrant. Many of the shop owners that I speak to have a “no cell phone policy” in their shops. This can help to prevent our people from playing checkers on the clock. We live in the era of smart phones, text messaging, and social media which can be major distractions. The cell phone policy is a great example of eliminating unnecessary distractions.

I am reminded of the lead character played by Tim Robbins in the movie the ShawShank Redemption. He was serving a life sentence for a crime he did not commit and he made a surprising escape from jail after 20 years. Each day he would dig into the wall of his cell, a task that was important but not urgent. Each day, he stuck with this discipline without allowing any unnecessary distractions. Tim’s character was playing chess and it allowed him to go to the next level. What game do you want to play?

Auto Repair Sales – How to Sell $1,000,000 in Service

An auto repair sale is a popular topic with most shop owners. One million dollars seems like a magic number for a lot of shop owners. They’re either struggling to hit it, or they’ve made it and now they want two million or three million. Whatever the goal, fantastic auto repair sales performance is really quite simple (not always easy, but simple). To achieve outstanding auto repair sales performance you have to consistently do four things.

1. Listen carefully to the customer and quickly build rapport and relationship.

2. Ask for the largest possible sale while offering the greatest perceived value.

3. Get the work done. Quickly and correctly.

4. Lock the customer into a long-term relationship with your shop; repeating steps one, two and three at least three times per year.

In step one the key is quickly. To sell one million dollars (or more) in a year, everything is going to have to happen FAST! The rapport building process doesn’t have to take a long time. You can build a strong connection with a new client very quickly just by getting them talking about themselves.

Question: So, how long have you lived here?-What kind of work do you do?-How long have you owned the car?-Where’s your favorite place to go on vacation?-Tell me about your kids/pets… All these questions get the customer talking about themselves and give you plenty of opportunity to identify and comment on common points of interest or experience. None of this takes more than a few minutes, but during this process the vital process of trust building is occurring.

In step two, the key is asking for the LARGEST possible sale. Fear stops most salespeople from asking for the large sale. Instead they convince themselves that the customer will only accept a much lower figure; a figure that they (the salesperson) are comfortable with. This is why I spend so much time in the Advanced Service Writer Sales Training Class working on the closing question. The closing question is the key to overcoming the fear. With it memorized and practiced the fear subsides and the service writer is able to ask for much bigger sales than ever before. I’ve seen this tool add more than $300 per RO to a shops RO average. It is that POWERFUL!

The first two steps are pure auto repair sales step. Step three is a management step. The first two steps are all about the service writer controlling their actions. Step three requires them to motivate and lead someone else to action. The best way to do this is MBA “Management By walking Around”. It simply means you can’t forget about a ticket once it’s in the hands of the tech. You have to get out in the shop regularly (usually every 5-10 minutes on a busy day) and make sure that the work is moving forward. You have to quickly remove any obstacles to success such as parts problems, bad attitudes, or unexpected difficulties with the repair. This is a vital and often overlooked part of auto repair sales.

In step four we’re back to sales. The biggest missed opportunity in most shops is the opportunity to commit the customer to their next visit while they are checking out from this visit. All you have to do is tell them when their next visit is and most people will say ok. Notice I didn’t say ask them when they could make their next visit; I said tell them when their next appointment is. The key is assuming that they are going to return and doing them the favor of scheduling this. I teach several simple techniques in the Advanced Service Writer Sales Training Class that make getting this commitment very easy, simple and natural.

So, there you have it, the four simple (not necessarily easy) steps to selling one million dollars (or more) in service. If you consistently follow these steps the million bucks is yours! An auto repair sale isn’t difficult if you know the steps and have the tools.

Paintless Dent Repair: Myths and Facts About Car Dent Repair and Insurance

The long arm of car repair insurance doesn’t stop at extended warranties or tire road hazard insurance. Marketing gurus have found all sorts of knick knacks to insure. Among the top are ding and dent protection plans. Ding and dent insurance is growing steadily, and addresses those unsightly shopping cart and parking lot dings.

Dings and dents are fairly synonymous terms, although a ding is smaller than a dent. You’ll notice a dent. You’ll need to squint, or catch the vehicle in the right angle or sunlight to see a ding. Some dings are smaller than eraser heads.

Like extended warranties or tire insurance, dent and ding protection plans promise to pay for damages in part or in full for a specific period of time. These plans are primarily sold by new car dealerships and cost a few hundred dollars.

Ding and Dent Repair: Paintless Dent Repair

Ding and dent repair is called PDR, short for Paintless Dent Repair. There are many companies that perform this service: Ding Doctor, Ding King, No Dents, Dent Wizard…the list goes on. Some are better then others, although ultimately it’s up to the skill of the PDR technician. Prices are similar.

How is it done?

Most PDR techniques are non-intrusive. The PDR technicians use specially designed tools and gadgets to slip behind the damaged panels and manipulate and massage the damaged metal back to its original form.

Does it work?

Actually, it’s incredible! It works so well that in the majority of cases the dings and dents are completely removed. They’re invisible, gone, can’t-believe-your-eyes fixed.

I saw a soccer-ball-sized dent removed from the rear fender of a $120,000 car. The dent also had a large crease, which makes repairs even harder. After thirty minutes there was no visible detection that a dent was ever there. The repair cost the client $400. Traditional body shop estimates were hovering at $2700.

PDR positives

  • Very low cost compared to traditional body shops
  • Same day repairs–even while-you-wait service
  • No paint work, sanding, or traditional bodywork required
  • Original paint remains–helps retain vehicles looks and value
  • Body panels remain intact–maintaining structural integrity

PDR negatives

  • PDR does not address scratches or paint chips that are often associated with dings (Many PDR companies will address chips and scratches, but it’s not PDR technology)
  • Many areas of body panels are not accessible, so PDR is not an option
  • Plastic bumpers or any plastic components can’t be fixed with PDR techniques. Since the bumper is the most common area to get damaged, this is a significant downside of PDR technology.
  • Some damage can occur to door panels, paint, interiors, window glass and hardware, although damage of any kind is rare.

Do you need PDR insurance?

God, no!

Should you get your dings fixed using PDR techniques?

Hell, yes!

Let me explain…

Insuring against dings and dents does not make economic sense. Ding repairs average around $50 per ding. Some dings cost $99 to $149 to repair. Two to four dings can run $100 to $450, depending on the size of the dent. Insurance at this level is just not necessary. Moreover, it’s a gamble you will lose.

To benefit from a $300, two-year plan, your vehicle would need to sustain multiple “PDR repairable” dings or dents. Despite your coverage, you may not even notice the dings, making a claim impossible. Also, despite the amazing PDR techniques, they can’t fix everything, especially the chips and scratches that so frequently accompany a ding–should dings even occur.

Yes, get your dings fixed with PDR (if they’re bothering you), but don’t buy an insurance plan.

Protection plan economics 101

An article by Terence O’Hara in the Washington Post is a wonderful piece on the insanity of protection plans, and is applicable here. He writes:

The decision to buy an extended warranty…defies the recommendations of economists, consumer advocates and product quality experts, who all warn that the plans rarely benefit consumers and are nearly always a waste of money.

‘[Extended warranties and protection plans] make no rational sense,’ Harvard economist David Cutler said. ‘The implied probability [of an issue] has to be substantially greater than the risk that you can’t afford to fix it or replace it. If you’re buying a $400 item, for the overwhelming number of consumers that level of spending is not a risk you need to insure under any circumstances.’

…extended warranties play upon a basic human trait to avoid loss, even if it means sacrificing a possible future gain. In this case, the gain is all the other things of value that a consumer could buy with the money that was spent on a warranty

Fix your dings

Fix your dings and dents (if you want) as they come–maybe every spring. Fixing dings keeps your car looking pristine, and increases its value. But don’t bother with a protection plan. Save your money.

Hold off on that paint job

Quality paintless dent repair is often a great substitute for those considering full paint jobs. Whenever possible, it’s best to keep the original paint. Good PDR combined with a professional detail can restore vehicles to show room condition for less than $500.

Go with the best

Since 1983 Dent Wizard has been pioneering PDR technology. Their PDR technicians undergo extensive and ongoing training. The rates are reasonable and the quality is excellent. Always request a master PDR technician, as there are various levels of abilities.

Check with local dealers

Dealerships in your area may offer Dent Wizard. Your vehicle does not have to be of the same make as the dealership. In other words, you can bring your Chevy to a Ford dealer for PDR work.

Myths

Do it yourself paintless dent repair is easy.

No it ‘s not. It requires training, skill, and experience. There are many who practice PDR techniques who crack or flake the paint, or who create ripples in the metal.

The PDR products sold on TV do the same thing.

No! Not even close. There’s no good substitute for the art of PDR.

Scratch and dent repair are the same thing.

No. A ding is a small dent, which can often be repaired via paintless dent repair procedures. A scratch is an actual break in the surface of the clear coat or paint, requiring traditional body shop techniques, or touch up paint.

It’s easy to learn how to repair dents on cars.

Maybe for some, but it’s a skill that few master. Dent Wizard offers a great training program. The management and staff are top notch.

What’s the best car dent removing protection plan?

Money in your bank account!