It’s part of the experience of having a car. Maybe you were at the local supermarket and someone was a bit careless and they dinged your door. Or maybe you were a little under the weather and you accidentally backed into a pole. Whatever it is, the fact that you’re looking for a paintless dent repair cost means you’re probably having a bad week. Fortunately, paintless dent repairs don’t cost that much, and there are ways to save money. Let’s discuss paintless dent repair costs and body repairs.
What is a Paintless Dent Repair?
As the name suggests, a paintless dent repair is a body repair process where it doesn’t require any sanding or painting in the process. It’s relatively fast and cheap and can be done when your vehicle doesn’t have paint damage. Even larger dents can be fixed with this method as long as there is no paint damage. The process usually involves heating the damaged body panel to make them more flexible. Then the technician will use a metal rod to knock the dent out and sometimes push it from the inside. They will sometimes need to remove interior trims or other parts to gain access inside the panel.
You may not be able to repair dents using the paintless dent repair method in the following scenario:
- The dent has sharp edges or torn metal.
- The paint inside a dent is broken or scratched.
- The indented metal is situated near the edge of a panel. Sometimes you can still use the paintless dent repair method, but it may be more costly.
- The dented area has had previous bodywork done.
Paintless Dent Repair Cost
A paintless dent repair, or sometimes called PDR, is relatively cheap. A paintless dent repair cost is around $150 – $250 on average. Smaller dents such as door dings may even be cheaper, at around $50 – $125 depending on labor rates. Other factors will also affect paintless dent repair cost, such as:
- The number of dents. If there are multiple dents on multiple body panels, then the cost will go up since more time and labor will be involved.
- Size of the dent. Obviously, larger dents will require more effort to repair. It will take more time as well and can be a bit more difficult to restore the body panel to its former glory, hence the higher cost.
- The location of the dent will also affect the paintless dent repair costs. For example, dents on the roof caused by hail damage are harder to reach making it more difficult to work on. Also, dents near the edge of the panel are more difficult to repair, bringing up the cost of the repair.
- Your vehicle’s make and model may also affect the cost. Some cars may be more difficult to work on whether it’s because it requires other components to be taken off before working on the dents. Or it can also because of the materials used on the body panel. Aluminum panels for example will require specialized repairs.
Where to Do a Paintless Dent Repair?
You can do a paintless dent repair job at the nearest auto body shop. Any decent auto body shop will be able to do a good paintless dent repair job. Or depending on where you live, you can request a service from online auto body services if you’re in their service coverage. As always, be sure to compare prices from various shops and service providers to make sure you get the best possible price.
Don’t forget to read customer reviews as well to ensure they can do a good job. You don’t want to pay $250 for a paintless dent repair job only to find the job isn’t done well and your car hasn’t been restored to its former glory.
Reducing Paintless Dent Repair Cost: Do It Yourself
Since paintless dent repair is relatively simple to do, you can do it yourself with the right tools. It will take some of your time, but if money is a bit tight at the moment then it’s a good option to save some money. There are two different methods of doing a paintless dent repair. Evaluate both methods and see if you’re confident in doing either of these yourself to save some cash:
Bodyline Paintless Dent Repair
If the dent is on the vehicle’s bodyline (that’s the curves and contours on your car’s body panel), then this first method will likely work better. Repairing a dent on the vehicle’s bodyline requires a bit more effort and precision, and that’s why the method is different. That’s also why we won’t blame you if you choose to bite the $250 bullet and just pay someone to do this for you. But if you still want to do it yourself, here’s what you will need:
- Pivot Tips.
- MT18 from PDR Finesse.
- Killer Whale Tail from Stanliner Tools.
- VIP 2.0 tap down.
How to Do a Bodyline Paintless Dent Repair
- Tap the “crowns” of the dents using the VIP 2.0 tap down with pivot tips. The “crowns” are the edges of the dent. You’ll need to do this first to reduce the size of the dent and before pushing the dent out from the inside.
- Heat the dented area with a hairdryer. Heating it for about 5 – 10 minutes with a hairdryer should be enough.
- Push out the dent from inside the panel by using the Killer Whale tail. Alternatively, you can use a crowbar or a metal rod to the job as well. But paintless dent repair technicians often use this tool to do the job.
- Use the tap-down tool again to make fine adjustments.
- Pick out micro push marks using the MT18. When you tap on the dent by using the tap down, there will be small marks from the taps. Pull it out from the inside of the panel by using the MT18 tool from PDR finesse.
Precision and an eye for detail are required to do this job properly. We recommend watching this video to help you understand more about how to do this process:
Paintless Dent Repair: Using a Suction Cup or a Plunger
This method works best when the dent is on a larger panel and doesn’t affect your vehicle’s body line. For example, if you have a dent on your bumper, this method will work well. Here’s how to do a paintless dent repair using a suction cup. Here’s what you will need:
- A heat gun or hairdryer (a hairdryer is safer but you may need a heat gun).
- A suction cup or a plunger.
- A crowbar or a metal rod may be required to help with the process.
The suction cup for autobody repairs is usually no more than $50 to purchase. But of course, you can either borrow or rent from someone you know or from an auto shop. Whatever the case, once you’ve got the tools, here’s how to do a paintless dent repair yourself:
How to Do a Paintless Dent Repair Using a Suction Cup or a Plunger
- Warm up the damaged area using a hairdryer or a heat gun until it becomes more flexible. It will usually take about 5 – 10 minutes to do this. Keep in mind that if you’re using a heat gun, keep it about 2 feet away from the bumper as it can reach temperatures that will melt the paint.
- Pull the dent out using the suction cup or plunger. If you’re using a plunger, moisten the edges with clean water to help create suction. Pull and jerk on the plunger or suction cup repeatedly until the dent comes out.
- Heat the body panel with the hairdryer again if it still isn’t flexible enough.
- Repeat the process until the bumper is back to its normal state.
Keep in mind that you may need to push the panel from the inside using a crowbar or a metal rod just like the first method. Doing this will help speed up the process as well as help you make fine adjustments in repairing the dent. You can watch the video below as an example where the Boost Brothers fix their bumper using this method:
What if the Damage is too Severe? Other Body Repair Costs
There are circumstances where the damage is too severe to fix with a paintless dent repair. Your mechanic or technician will let you know whether the damage can be fixed with the paintless dent repair method or not. If it can’t, you will need to look at other repair options. Here are other types of body repairs that you may need to do if the damage is severe:
Traditional Dent Repair
Once paint damage is involved, you will need to do a more traditional dent repair. The process is largely the same: the technician will pull out the dent by heating the body panel with similar PDR methods. Afterward, they will sand to smooth out the area, and then repaint the damaged area. If there are cracks in the car’s paint, then you will need to do this process.
It will typically cost between $250 – $350 for this type of repair. However, it may be more expensive depending on the cost of your car’s paint.
This typically happens with your vehicle’s bumper. A higher speed impact can cause the bumper to crack. If the crack or fracture is minor, then you can do a crack repair. The process involves the technician filling the crack with a plastic filler. Afterward, they will sand the area until it’s smooth and then repainting the area. This will usually cost around $300 – $500, but it can be as high as $700 depending on your vehicle’s make and model.
However, keep in mind that you may need to replace the bumper or the body panel entirely if the damage is too severe to fix. This also depends on what type of material your vehicle’s body panel use, as some materials such as aluminum, are easier to fix than steel. Speaking of body panel replacement:
Body Panel Replacement
Unfortunately, some damage is so severe that you may have no other choice but to replace the panel of the car. The cost to replace a body panel will vary depending on the car’s make and model, as well as the process required to do the job. The size and number of panels that you’re replacing will also affect the cost.
To give you an idea, expect to pay anywhere between $500 – $1,500 for a single panel replacement in most cars. Fenders, bumpers, and engine hoods will cost around this much to replace. While luxury cars may cost as high as $2,000.
Keep in mind this does not include the cost of replacing other parts that you may need to replace. If the accident has damaged your car’s grill, lights, or other accessories, expect the cost to go higher since you will need to replace these parts. And if your car experiences structural damage to the chassis, expect the repair bill to go well over $4,000.
Questions & Answers
When Should I File an Insurance Claim?
If you have minor dents and only need to do a paintless dent repair, then we don’t recommend filing an insurance claim. The paintless dent repair cost is quite cheap and you can do it yourself to save even more money. Filing an insurance claim will not be worth it if you only need to do a paintless dent repair, not to mention it will raise your insurance rate. There’s a chance your premium will rise between 10% – 40% for a first at-fault accident. If you have a second accident, then it could go up between 40% – 150%.
We generally recommend filing an insurance claim when the claim amount is significantly higher than your deductible. For example, if the repair cost total is $1,500 and your deductible amount is $500, then you will have to pay the $500 deductible but the insurance company will pay the remaining $1,000. Since the claim amount is twice your deductible, you should make the claim.
That being said, you understand your personal finance the best. So if money’s really tight at the moment and an insurance claim seems like the best option even though the claim amount isn’t significantly more, you should file a claim anyway.
Can I Repair Hail Damage with Paintless Dent Repair?
Mother nature can be cruel sometimes. Depending on the severity of the damage, you may be able to repair hail damage with the paintless dent repair method. However, if there are a lot of dents, it may be more cost-effective for you to replace the entire body panel rather than fixing the dents. This is because the paintless dent repair cost can be affected by the number of dents present. You will need to evaluate your options when you have hail damage and seek out the most cost-effective option.
Additionally, you should fix hail damage immediately. Leaving them unrepaired can be dangerous. For example, driving with a cracked windshield is dangerous as the windshield may break further while you’re driving. Dents and cracks on your body panel may also ruin the integrity of your car’s structure, which compromises the safety of your car if you get into an accident.
On top of that, pre-existing damage can complicate future insurance payouts. When the auto-insurance company considers your car to have “pre-existing damage”, you may not be liable to getting an insurance payout should you get into an accident. We’ve made a complete guide to hail damage repair cost and you can read it here.
Can I Drive without Fixing Dents?
Small dents like minor door dings won’t cause your car to suddenly break down when you’re driving. So, yes, if the damage is minor, then you can drive just fine without fixing the dents. However, we still recommend fixing it anyway. As mentioned in the hail section, pre-existing damage may complicate future insurance payouts should you make a claim. Better safe than sorry. Besides, who likes driving with unsightly dents on their car anyway?
As for larger dents, we recommend immediately fixing them since they may compromise the integrity of your car’s safety. This is especially true when the dent is on the bumper or has affected the car’s structural integrity.
What if I Have Structural Damage?
Structural or frame damage is when the accident has affected the car’s frame or chassis. In this case, you have two options: repair the damage and keep the car or sell it at a lower value. Keep in mind that if you do decide to repair the damage and keep the car for a few more years, when the time comes to sell your car, you will still likely have to sell it at a lower price. Most cars that have been in a major accident that damages the frame or chassis will experience a significant drop in resale value.
Anyway, if this happens then you should file an insurance claim to ease the repair cost on your pocket. However, if your car is old and you don’t feel it’s worth the deductible amount, then you’re probably better off selling the car as-is. You can either sell to a used car dealership that’s willing to take a car as-is or scrapping it altogether. Keep in mind that your car’s value may drop as much as 70% in unrepaired condition.
Note that driving with frame damage is incredibly dangerous even if you have repaired the body damage. The chassis or frame is what supports the weight of your vehicle. The structural integrity of your car is compromised once the frame is damaged.
How Do I Pick a Good Auto Body Shop?
As mentioned, we recommend shopping around and ask for estimates at different repair shops. On top of that, there are four questions you should ask:
- Do they offer a warranty? This is important because you never know if the quality of a shop’s repair job might be poor. You might find the metal rusting or the paint peeling just weeks after the repair job, in which case you want a warranty so you can have it fixed for little to no cost at all. Also, be sure to ask what the warranty covers.
- What tools do they use? You will need to do a bit of research on what specialized tools is necessary for your type of repair. But by ensuring the repair shop use the correct tools and methods, you can ensure that your car will get a good repair job.
- How long will the repair take? A paintless dent repair job usually takes no more than a couple of hours, unless there’s a lot of damage such as when you have hail damage. A more severe body repair job can take anywhere between a couple of days to even weeks. If it’s going to take a while, you’re going to have to make new arrangements for your daily commute.
- Do they offer a rental or replacement car? Light repair jobs shouldn’t take more than three days to finish, but even three days is a long time to live without your car. If you don’t have a second car, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they have a replacement car you can use while your car is being fixed. If they don’t and the car will take some time to fix, knowing how long the repair job will take beforehand will allow you to make arrangements.
Getting into an accident and having a dent in your car is never a pleasant experience. Fortunately, the paintless dent repair cost is relatively cheap. They should cost you no more than $250 in most scenarios, so you can still pay out of pocket and won’t need to file an insurance claim with the risk of having your insurance premium go up.
Keep in mind some factors will bring the repair cost higher. Be sure to weigh all of your options so you can choose the most cost-effective method to fixing your car. Afterward, always shop around and ask multiple shops and body repair service providers for cost estimates. This will help to ensure you get the best possible price and service for your auto body repair.