The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-15-2007, 10:27 AM
Carnac the Magnificent! Carnac the Magnificent! is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Does "paintless dent repair" really work? How?

I've seen ads for this service. The companies promise to repair the dents in one hour, guaranteed satisfaction, most repairs are repaired "90 to 100 percent true," no fillers, and vehicle stays "100 percent original."

How is paintless dent repair done? Does the original ding create a stress point prone to subsequently reversal?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 01-15-2007, 10:51 AM
Lazlo Lazlo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
It works great. A couple of years ago I had massive hail damage to my car - every single panel was dented. When I got the car back, only one dent wasn't fixed perfectly and they rebated me $20 for it. (I made a profit of $4k on that incident. Insurance gave me a check for $6k, I paid Hailmasters $2k).

It took them significantly longer than a couple of hours. They had my car for two days, but I won't complain.

Basically what they do is use hardened tools that look like oversized dental picks to massage the dents out from the back side. I've never had a dent get pushed back in, but I'm sure the body panel is weaker at those points.

The Hailmasters site has a bit of information about how they take the dent out. They pretty much chase hailstorms all around the country and set up tents to do the work. I imagine it's pretty lucrative.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-15-2007, 10:56 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 22,615
I have had it done and, although the guy told me that he couldn't guarantee a 100% fix, the 97% was good enough especially considering the money and the time saved. I talked to him about it and it is a whole art rather than just some gimmicky technique. My damage was on the passenger side rear quarter-panel and on the high side of what they view as fixable via that technique. He took off the rear brake lights and worked with special tools manipulating wherever he could. I watched him periodically and it was a matter of applying slow pressure and manipulation to reshape the dent over an hour or more. He said that they have to apprentice for a while before they can do it themselves. Sometimes they drill tiny holes to manipulate the metal and quickly patch them. I was fairly impressed and happy with the results over 2 years later.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-15-2007, 11:11 AM
Cheesesteak Cheesesteak is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
I don't have experience with paintless dent repair, but I do have experience with traditional repair. Metal gets stretched when you get a dent. When the dent is pulled and flattened out by the tech with a hammer and dolly*** the metal is still stretched out, and is prone to flexing, so they "shrink" it. They heat the metal with a torch until its glowing red, then work the metal with the tools, getting it close to flat while hot, then quench it and the metal shrinks back to the right size.

The shallower the dent, the less of a problem it will be. I imagine that small dents that do not damage the paint will not have nearly the stretching issues that large collision dents would have.


*** think of a dolly as a palm sized anvil, placed behind the dent when it's hammered out.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-15-2007, 04:10 PM
gigi gigi is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Flatlander in NH
Posts: 18,348
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazlo
I made a profit of $4k on that incident. Insurance gave me a check for $6k, I paid Hailmasters $2k.
Wow, you'd think insurance companies would be hip to that.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-15-2007, 04:28 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 22,615
Quote:
Originally Posted by gigi
Wow, you'd think insurance companies would be hip to that.
Insurance companies pay you for the standard type of repairs needed for your car. If Uncle Joe knows how to get the same results with a crowbar and some wire, that is your business, and you get to keep the money. Unless you have a bank or insurance forcing you to, you don't have to get the repair at all.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-15-2007, 04:48 PM
lowbrass lowbrass is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty
Insurance companies pay you for the standard type of repairs needed for your car. If Uncle Joe knows how to get the same results with a crowbar and some wire, that is your business, and you get to keep the money. Unless you have a bank or insurance forcing you to, you don't have to get the repair at all.
Right. I've had insurance adjustors so much as tell me I don't need to get a dent repaired if I don't want to, and that I can just keep the money.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 01-15-2007, 07:36 PM
MrFloppy MrFloppy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
I had three annoying door dents removed from a previous vehicle by a paintless repair outfit that was attached to a local Volvo dealership. I thnk it was Ding Doctor or Dent Doctor. Something like that.

The result was incredible. I think I paid about $40 per dent ($120 for the whole deal). Had the cause of the ding not chipped the paint on one of the spots, I don't think I would have been able to figure out where the ding had been.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 01-15-2007, 09:14 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 12,684
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazlo
(I made a profit of $4k
Should that be a profit of 4k before income taxes?
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-15-2007, 10:09 PM
Carnac the Magnificent! Carnac the Magnificent! is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazlo
Basically what they do is use hardened tools that look like oversized dental picks to massage the dents out from the back side. I've never had a dent get pushed back in, but I'm sure the body panel is weaker at those points.


How does one "massage the dents" from sheet metal? They must be getting incredible leverage to pull that off, unless the mechanic's name is Dr. David Banner.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 01-15-2007, 10:16 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 22,615
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnac the Magnificent!
How does one "massage the dents" from sheet metal? They must be getting incredible leverage to pull that off, unless the mechanic's name is Dr. David Banner.
I saw part of it and it is hard to describe. They have special tools like pullers and long picks that they use it different ways often from underneath the metal however they can access it. They make many passes and points of pressure on one dent and improve on the results slowly. I don't pretend to understand the whole thing but it was no gimmick and the techniques rather nuanced and sophisticated.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 01-15-2007, 11:35 PM
Lazlo Lazlo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Shagnasty explained it better than I. Take a look at these tools. By rotating the handle, you can put a lot of force on the pinpoint end of it. They worked very slowly and methodically on each dent. It really did seem to be an art.

I just checked youtube and found a few videos giving demostrations on it.

PDR demo.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 01-15-2007, 11:47 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 12,684
This is reminiscent of the way dents were removed in the '30's. At that time dents were mostly pounded out. A small hand-held anvil backed up the pounding by a hammer with a large, mushroom peen until the thing was relatively smooth. Then it was finally smoothed by a sander and finished off with fine sandpaper and repainted.

It appears to be a different technique but the object is the same. Smooth out the original material but in this case in such a manner that repainting isn't necessarily required.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 01-16-2007, 07:46 AM
SCSimmons SCSimmons is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Simmons
Should that be a profit of 4k before income taxes?
You have to pay income taxes on auto insurance payouts? I am in so much trouble with the IRS ...

(I really don't think you do, actually. It's not income, it's reimbursement for loss, which is considered a net zero ...)
__________________
-Christian
"You won't like me when I'm angry. Because I always back up my rage with facts and documented sources." -- The Credible Hulk
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 01-16-2007, 10:21 AM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 12,684
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCSimmons
You have to pay income taxes on auto insurance payouts? I am in so much trouble with the IRS ...

(I really don't think you do, actually. It's not income, it's reimbursement for loss, which is considered a net zero ...)
well, I asked a question. Yes, there was reimbusement for a loss which was $2k, wasn't it? What about the other $4k of the $6k payment?
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 01-16-2007, 10:30 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnac the Magnificent!
How does one "massage the dents" from sheet metal? They must be getting incredible leverage to pull that off, unless the mechanic's name is Dr. David Banner.
Not really. Car body panels are pretty thin. I've done this myself on my girlfriend's car, where it had a large but shallow dent on the rear hatchback. You take off the interior panel so you can get at the back of the dented panel, then simply push reasonably firmly against the metal. IU used a combination of tools including a screwdriver, a dessert spoon and even a wire coathanger for the fiddly bits. The metal "wants" to go back flat, for the most part, and quickly pops into shape, more or less. The stressed parts where the metal is stretched are more tricky, but in about half an hour I turned a dent several inches across into a minor half-inch ripple that you can only see if you catch the light on it just right. And it didn't cost me a penny.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 01-16-2007, 11:03 AM
Iggins Iggins is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Simmons
well, I asked a question. Yes, there was reimbusement for a loss which was $2k, wasn't it? What about the other $4k of the $6k payment?
Doesn't the insurance company consider it a loss of $6K? Is the loss is the estimated cost of repair to the damage?
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 01-16-2007, 12:01 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 12,684
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggins
Doesn't the insurance company consider it a loss of $6K? Is the loss is the estimated cost of repair to the damage?
I think the insurance company treats it as a $6k expense to them for their tax purposes.

The insured has been enriched by the amount of $4k. It's not wages but it sure looks like income to me. I suppose it could be argued that the resale value of the car has been reduced by some amount. However, casualty losses of that sort can only be taken as a deduction if they are more that some percentage of your income.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:54 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.