The effect of dents on the performance of the car
Among the damages a car can suffer, the dents that have not cracked the paint might seem the less important ones, as in general they don’t seem to require such an immediate response as the problems with the mechanics, the transmission or the electricity of a vehicle. After all, even if it looks damaged, the car can still take us wherever we want to go.
Nevertheless, a closer examination will prove that dents can bring about a lot of unwanted consequences that make it advisable to fix them as soon as possible. The worst effects caused by dents are, in fact, the financial and aesthetic ones:
- The impact over the image of the vehicle directly affects its residual value.
- The presence of dents on the car makes it impossible for the owner to take out or renew a fully comprehensive insurance, or one with high deductibles.
- The dents that are not fixed immediately can lead to rust spots or paint damages, or hide them if they are already there, with the consequent loss of residual value.
- By negatively affecting the image of the vehicle, dents also affect the image of its owner, or that of the company that uses the car commercially.
For years, the only way to solve the problem with dents was to cover the dents with body fillers, and then to paint the whole affected panel. The vehicle did not have its original paint anymore, and the artisanal job it had undergone had an expiration date, because after a while, the action of the elements affected and hardened the fillers, cracking them. This happened especially in areas with warmer climates. At the moment of reselling the car, on the other hand, the impact on the price became evident. The fact that the car did not have its original paint raised suspicions about the history of the car, and the possible existence of collisions and hidden damages in its past.
The PDR techniques, a fast and efficient solution
As an answer to this, the innovative PDR (Paintless Dent Removal) techniques were developed, which make it possible to get rid of dents on the body of the car, moving its surface back to its original position, to a point where it looks like the damage never occurred. The PDR techniques apply controlled forces on the bodywork to give it back its original profile without affecting the original paint, making it literally impossible to detect any damages or defects: the vehicle now looks exactly as it looked before the damage.
The PDR techniques do not use fillers or paints that could affect the value of the vehicle. The car keeps its original paint, and with it the official manufacturer warranties. The process does not cause environmental damages and is completely ecological.
Three techniques, the best result
To achieve the goal of taking the bodywork back to its original position without affecting the paint, three alternative and complementary techniques are actually used:
In this case, the forces are applied through steel rods that act like levers exerting pressure on the steel from the inside out. A PDR technician uses these rods to softly push each dent until it has completely disappeared. The steel rods are complemented by special lamps that make it possible to detect even the smallest dents and clearly show any movement on the bodywork.
In recent times, the number of rods that are commonly used in PDR have grown considerably, with rods of different lengths and designs, adapted for each task. There are very long and rigid rods like those used to work on the roof of big automobiles and vans, and there are very small and flexible ones like those that are used to fix light damages on hoods. There are straight rods, curved rods, angled rods, shaved rods, retractile rods. Each one of them is specifically adapted to fix a determined sector of the body of the vehicle, including doors, rails, fenders, sides and boots.
The hot-melt adhesives are used to attach plastic tabs to the bodywork and pull them with a force similar to that applied with steel rods, pulling the bodywork from the inside out. The glued tabs become unattached easily after applying alcohol, leaving no trace behind. The use of hot-melt adhesives is absolutely complementary to the use of steel rods, it is not as fast as the later, but it becomes indispensable in those cases where it is not possible for the rods to reach the affected area, as usually happens with the rails, which are completely closed. Using hot-melt adhesives, on the other hand, has the benefit of acting from the outside, and therefore do not require any dismantling or special preparation of the vehicle.
The hot-melt adhesive technique is complemented by using specialized dent hammers that are used to even the surface of the bodywork and to fix positive dents (those that project outwards).
Thermal action through magnetic induction
In recent years, PDR technicians have started using devises that change the temperature of the steel through magnetic induction. This technique originally appeared as a solution to those cases in which, after a very strong impact, the steel was weakened, as the metal appeared stretched out. In those cases, the bodywork was taken back to its original position through the use of steel rods, but the final result was not perfect, as the weakened metal showed a tendency to collapse or protrude after the slightest contact. Experimentation finally provided a solution: the application of magnetic induction directly on the affected spot, warming the weakened metal in such a way that, once it got cold again, it regained its original rigidity.
Over time, this technique has been perfected and new devises have been developed, which apply magnetic induction in a very controlled and efficient fashion, taking the metal to the exact temperature needed. The effect is completed by cooling off the metal with coolant gases.
At present, new experimentation is going on with induction devices that can eliminate dents directly, shrinking and expanding the steel as needed.
The time factor
The traditional repair techniques with fillers and paints demanded an average 5 days in the shop, which could turn into weeks when the damages were more extensive, as those resulting from a hail storm. It was necessary to sand, fill, paint, dry, and polish the car, and each one of these steps required time.
In this regard, PDR techniques offer a great contrast: A certified PDR technician can fix a heavily damaged car (1,000 dents) in less than 24 hours. That considerable reduction in the repair time is reflected on logistic and financial benefits for all the participants in the process, that is to say car dealers, body shops, insurance companies, and, most importantly, it clearly shows in the satisfaction of the final customer.