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!

Will My Auto Insurance Cover Me If I’m in an Accident Out of State?

One of the best parts of living in the United States is the fact that we can, any time we want to, hop behind the wheel of our car and drive to destinations unknown to see any of the 50 states. Nobody’s going to ask for a passport, nobody’s going to ask what you’re doing. They’re just going to smile, wave and drive on. But is your auto insurance going to make sure you’re protected when you slip across state lines?

The good news is, nine times out of ten the answer to that is going to be yes. In the eyes of most auto repair shops American auto insurance is American auto insurance, and as long as your insurance carrier decides to ante up when it’s time to pay the bill they don’t care which state you happen to be from. You’re pretty much free to come and go as you please.

There are, however, a couple of things you need to know about driving out of state. First and foremost, every state has a different minimum driving age. While you can get a permit when you’re fifteen (and a half) in Virginia you have ot wait until you’re sixteen in New York, which means driving around with a VA Learner’s Permit up north is asking for trouble. Other states enforce strict curfews for drivers under 18. If you have a new driver in the house, make sure you check out the rules of the road before you go traveling.

How much liability insurance are you carrying? Technically you’re not required to meet the minimum liability coverage requirements of another state just because you happen to be driving through it, but you are still going to be responsible for any damages above and beyond your maximum coverage levels-and most judges really, really hate dealing with out of state drivers. Not your fault, there are just some people that like to roll through town and cause trouble and leave everybody else to deal with the consequences.

Regardless, the last thing you want to do is spend the rest of your life paying damages to an out of state court. That means you want to make sure your liability coverage is geared up and and ready to handle whatever life (or the California by-ways) happen to toss your way. Most experts suggest that you carry a minimum of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per incident in liability auto insurance to cover any auto insurance claims that happen to pop up, regardless of what part of the country you happen to call home.

Your auto insurance company is one of the most important resources you’re going to have when you start traveling, so make sure it’s ready. Then kick back and enjoy your vacation. You’ve earned it.