Our Paintless Dent Repair guide explains the role of a technician, how the tools work with dents, and provides a number of tips and tricks to help you get better at Paintless Dent Repair.
The PDR Tech in Automotive has one of the most unique roles in the industry. They spend most of their time tucked away behind panels of cars in body shops or dealerships servicing vehicles, removing dents, and looking for ways to improve the art of PDR.
It can look like a daunting, complex role when you first consider jumping into the role, as it's not your traditional profession by any means. There are peculiar and highly specific mechanics to learn, as well as knowledge of certain tools, methods, and techniques.
That's where this guide is ready to step in. Here we'll introduce you to the role of a PDR Tech, explain the basics of performing the role effectively, and offer up a handful of tips which will put you well on your way to becoming Master Technician in the Automotive industry.
What does a technician do?
While body shops and heavy repair shops are removing and replacing panels. Possibly using aftermarket panels and respraying vehicles with lower quality paint, you'll set off on an entirely different path as a Paintless Dent Repair tech. Instead, you'll remove dents and dings without painting the surface of the vehicle.
There are many different types of dents that can happen to a vehicle's panel, so PDR Techs are usually looking for panel candidates that have no paint damage or minimal paint damage. Of course, there are exceptions to every dent, but the ideal dent for a technician is a dent in a panel without a broken paint surface. You can find some of our work on our Instagram.
It's not easy to sift through different customer vehicles and decide whether a panel is a good for Paintless Dent Repair, though, once you've found a good candidate or two, you
can begin to start the PDR process. One of the best ways to do this is secure proper training, practice a lot of dents, and secure the skills to remove dents at the highest level. Skill First. Speed Second.
It's knowing when to attempt these repairs and How To Repair which is what separates the best technicians from the rest, so keep an eye out for proper PDR training and invest in your tool set. This way you've got a much greater chance of being able to remove your dents to the highest quality.
As a technician who can often remove dents from many vehicles a day in various settings such as a body shop or dealership service lane, the PDR Technician is also usually one of the last stages in the automotive reconditioning process. Keeping polished tools, and proper maintenance of equipment is an important part of the technicians job.
Finally, you'll need to keep tabs on your own progress as a technician. By no means do you need to have the foresight of an oracle, but it's key that you're somewhat aware of understanding your skill level, and how well you are maintaining a factory finished surface. The best technician maintains factory finish, the orange peel will match undamaged areas of the panel, there will be no holes drilled to gain access, and the dent has been completely removed.
Paintless Dent Repair Dents and their types
It’s important to know what you’ll face in the Paintless Dent Repair field. There are seven dent categories all including their own subtypes. Dents are different every time and require an individual assessment for each one. Here’s everything you need to know about each dent:
- Dent: These dents tend to be wide and round in appearance and often have no paint damage, making paintless dent repair an option for removing them. These dents are typically 1 - 2 inches in diameter.
- Creases: Creases show by forming a straight line at the bottom of the dent, These tend to be caused from a falling object or even a dragging motion across a vehicle’s surface. Creases can sometimes damage multiple panels front to back even side to side.
- Bodyline: A dent running through a hard line on the vehicle’s body. This damage is seen quite often and a more complex method of Paintless Dent Repair
- Deep Dent: Acorns or flying rocks are typically the cause of deep dents.With minimal room for error these can be tough to preserve factory finish
- Minor Collision: The most complex of the group, minor collision damage is usually affecting multiple panels encompassing all of the previous mentioned damage. These dents may require major R&I and multiple days to complete.
- Hail: Hail damage usually affects an entire region damaging countless amounts of vehicle panels and car surfaces. This damage can become quite costly as the amount of dents calculated can be in the thousands.
Aluminum: Although not a dent, the metal of the car can affect the PDR process and how it is removed.
Paintless Dent Repair Job Opportunities
Here’s one of the biggest stepping stones to taking on the role of PDR Tech: deciding where to take your skill. It sounds like a difficult choice, but by ‘where’ we simply mean the way you will capitalize on your newly obtained skill. There are a number of different routes you can take through the career and over time technicians have studied and optimised their careers to find the paths that are most efficient and most successful. These are the most commonly used ones today, and should give you a comfortable start that you can then adapt as you become more confident:
PDR Technician: Training - Practice - Get a Job
The most regularly used path if you’re a PDR Tech has you starting with quality training, practicing on a lot of dents, refining your skill and then applying for a PDR job. There are many options when applying for a job as a PDR Technician. Many small automotive businesses can utilize this skill as an upsell to other services such as paint correction or paint protection film Finding the right training program that meshes with how you learn will be a key to expedite the training process. After training, hours and hours of metal time is required to create good habits. This path is more ideal for technicians looking for stability and who want a steady work flow from a company.
Entrepreneur: Training - Practice - Start A Business
Essentially the same of what you would do as a PDR technician. Start with proper PDR training, practice on different dents, and then use the skill to form a business. From there you can hire employees, service multiple automotive accounts, and even work in your local market. Again, no matter the career path you choose, Paintless Dent Repair allows for many opportunities to work on dents.
How to remove dents early in your career
In the early game as PDR Technician, you’ll be focused on removing small dents and getting them to a high quality. Before you can work on more complex damage, such as body lines or creases, make sure you are honing in to what it takes to remove a small nickel sized dent out of a panel. Also, try to research as much of PDR you can. With digital forums and specialized groups that show other technicians work, you will see all of the capabilities of Paintless Dent Repair. All this requires is the practice and patience to learn something new.
When first removing dents, constantly glance at videos and material to see where opportunities are developing to improve your PDR skills. Information Is Everywhere
Unless a standout chance arises, you’ll want to wait until you’ve finished a full car, touching every panel on the vehicle before taking your skill to the market. Top panels such as hoods and trunks are easiest to practice Paintless Dent Repair. It is ideal to utilize practice panels first if you're early in your career and don't be afraid to go back to the basics – that’s better than forcing something and ruining the vehicle’s painted surface.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for technology in tools. These could give you new ways to access dents from the backside of the panel. Tools are an important part of the trade but they are not everything. It is the mindset towards the industry, in which the tools are a part of, that makes the most sense to dive deep into.
How to remove dents in the mid game
Continuing looking to exceed your current skill set. This is achieved with daily practice and the will to continue growing your knowledge around PDR. Staying up to date with the newest strategies, or pushing styles, is a viable strategy if your dents aren’t looking exactly like you want. Just make sure you’re practicing your foundations and not crafting bad habits – your time could be spent better elsewhere.
Keep in mind not to neglect new methods and tooling. These are the two areas where a technician will keep most of his focus. As new vehicle makes and models come out every year a technician will have to be mindful of the types of metals they are working with, what tools will be needed to gain access into new parts of vehicles, and the methods in which these vehicles will need repair.
How to be a dent repair tech in the late game
Dent repair itself becomes less of an important task at this stage of the game. You’ll definitely want to keep challenging yourself with repairs as a technician, but your priority should be on the sustainability of your skill set. If working on metal everyday you will keep the habit forming part of PDR. This would also be the time to look into starting your business or expanding your business depending on what PDR career path you've chosen.
Other neutral objectives become even more important at this stage of the game too. You’ll be looking at growing your brand and business by now, so ensure they’re kept sustainable and be ready to make moves on them if you start to see shortcomings or need more work. PDR Technicians have an artist mindset with a determined workflow to ultimately gain success in the automotive industry.
General Dent Tech tips
These are a few tips and tricks every Dent Repair Technician should know to improve their game:
- Learn your craft: It doesn’t matter if you just pick one tool and stick with it while you’re a beginner, but you must have a tool in mind when you start the repair process. Time wasted choosing which tool to use means your time spent on repair will be less. At higher levels of repair, though, be prepared to adapt or respond to new situations or damage. When you’re feeling brave, try some multipanel damage or attempt a bodyline!
- Practice, practice, practice: The biggest impact you can have to your PDR skillset is successfully removing dents to factory finish. It’ll make your customers happy and put them into a trusting mindset with you as their dent technician. Time On Metal is the only way to progress in Paintless Dent RepairRemember, look for blind spots in your repair methods and keep seeking knowledge around PDR. Don’t stick around only pushing small dents for too long, though, as you risk wasting time not advancing onto larger repairs.
- Customer expectations are a key part of PDR. Find the right balance between your skill and what the customer wants as a finished product. Say, for example, you’ve estimated a vehicle and there is more damage, now’s a good time to explain to your customer what was spoken about and what you will agree upon for quality and price.
- Dentless Touch E - book, is a vital part of your kit. It’s a huge chunk of information that you should save to reference back to throughout your career. Making sure you find consistent training whether through literature, video, or in person training. If you can keep up on your skillset in PDR, you’ll be a hero!
- Repeatedly glance at your previous work, especially as you progress in your career. You'll see how far you’ve come from your first dent until now. This will increase confidence in your repairs and skillset as a Paintless Dent Repair technician.
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