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!

Why Rust is Like Cancer to Your Car

Rust can absolutely ruin the metal on a car. It is best to prevent the rust from ever taking hold on your car by washing it frequently. I recommend washing at least once a week, especially in areas that use salt on the road during the cold months. All that salt and dirt and grime that builds up tends to hold the moisture in and that leaves a perfect environment for rust to begin. It often will set up in a place that has been dented or the paint has chipped. Exam your car often for small spots of rust. It is much easier to repair the rusted area when it is just a small spot.

That’s really the key. You want to repair the area while it is only on the surface. Once the rust travels deeper into the metal it becomes a much bigger and more expensive repair job. My work restoring vintage muscle cars taught me early on that rust can be lurking underneath a shoddy patch job that has been painted over. You can do a check for this by simply going around the car and knocking on the metal.

That can tell you, based on the clear metal sound or the thud of putty work used to hide rust, if the car is solid or not. It is a test I do before purchasing any car, whether it is only a year old or is one of the vintage muscle cars that I will be restoring. You should also inspect underneath the car and check the wheel wells as well. Both are prime locations for rust to begin. Never buy a car that has been in an accident, even if it was just a small accident. They car likely received some sort of damage to the paint that will be a prime target for rust. Even if the person selling the car claims to have had the car repaired by an expert. Don’t purchase it. Even with an expert doing the repair, it is very likely that rust will take hold. Take the time to check out any car before you purchase. It could save you thousands of dollars in costly rust repairs, in the long run.

Learn Basic Car Maintenance

It’s amazing how many people get taken for a ride (ha ha) just by taking their car in for a basic service. A lot of people over think the modern technology of their car and believe everything the repair shop tells them. Modern cars really require way less maintenance, even though the basic concept is the same.

With all this power and amenities, most people forget or never knew that it is the same basic internal combustion engine used over a hundred years ago. And, electric and hybrid cars require even less maintenance than conventional automobiles! Learning basic maintenance about your vehicle can save you thousands of dollars over time and minimize potential breakdowns.

The three thousand mile oil change is a thing of past. If you’re still changing your car’s oil every three thousand miles, you’re wasting your money. You need to know what type of oil your car requires and the capacity. You need to know where the oil filter is located. Cheap oil filters will damage your car over time because they can take up to nine seconds longer to achieve maximum flow at startup. If you use one of those quick lube shops, make sure you know what type of oil they will use to refill the crankcase. Make sure you check the level on the dipstick before you leave the shop. Earlier I mentioned that you need to know where the oil filter is located, here’s why, some shops will not change the filter, but will charge you for one, if you mark the old one before you take the car for servicing, you’ll be able to verify that it has been replaced. Most of these shops lose money on the $29.99 oil change. A good quart of oil will set you back about five dollars, so if your car requires five, that’s twenty- five dollars, add the oil filter and you’re over the thirty dollar mark.

Now pay close attention. This is where you need to be up to date on your car’s maintenance schedule. The $29.99 oil change is a lure, it’s to bait you in and then double or triple charge you for a filter or drive belt or some other regular maintenance item you didn’t keep up with. We’re not trying to make everyone weekend mechanics, we just want car owners to read the owner’s manual so they’ll have an idea of what maintenance has to be done at the recommended mileage intervals. With that said, you tell me if it makes sense to take your new car in for the fifteen thousand mile service and be charged $400 to $600? What did they do to a car with only fifteen thousand miles besides change the oil?

You need to learn what maintenance items to consent to and what to say no to and still be assured your car is in optimum operating condition. A great benefit in learning how to properly maintain your car is also learning how to diagnose potential repair issues.

Does Your Car Engine Backfire?

Does your vehicle engine run ok?

Or does it cut-out on you sometimes when your are going to visit your in-laws?

Does it *spit* and *sputter* and *backfire*, then start running ok, again?

Symptoms of this nature can be several things.

o You could have a sparkplug wire shorting out.

o You could have an electrical wire shorting out.

o You may have some water in the fuel tank.

Let’s take the most common of these three mentioned.

Over the years you cannot keep they fuel tank full at all times.

With a fuel tank half full, the upper part can cause condensation.

This condensation will slowly build up and run down into the bottom of the tank.

When you start to pass another vehicle you call upon the fuel pump to give me more gasoline.

The fuel pump starts working overtime and picks up more fuel, then the water goes into the line along with the gasoline.

The fuel filter catches this water and since water is heavier than gasoline, it drops to the bottom of the filter.

After awhile though, you come up behind me, and I’m not driving quite as fast as you would like to go, so you floorboard it and go around me.

What happens when you floorboard it?

Right, you are asking for more fuel.

With the filter partially full of condensation, water, some of it gets picked up into the fuel line and goes to the carburetor or injector.

“Chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug, Pow!”

Purr, purr, purr.

See what happens?

You can solve this problem, most of the time, by changing the fuel filter two or three times a year.

Now, if you have just filled up at the pump, and your car starts acting this way, you may have to take the fuel tank off and clean it out.

Or, pay someone else to do it!