Paintless Dent Repair – The Truth, Myths and Misconceptions

PDR, a better repair!

First let me start by explaining what PDR or Paintless Dent Removal is for those of you out there that have never heard the term. PDR is conceptually simple, put simple it is the process of removing damage from an automotive body panel without the need for sanding, grinding, body-fillers or painting (hence the term Paintless).

The process of removing damage to vehicles without then need for painting is actually not new at all, though industry folk lore varies from tale to tale, Mercedes Benz allegedly began having “metal-men” work small imperfections in panels while still on the assembly line as long ago as the 1950’s. Today’s PDR technicians have adapted various techniques for removing dings and dents from vehicles without the need for fillers and re-painting almost as an art form. Better tools, training and advances in automotive clear coat durability have led to miraculous results for even large dents.

Why can’t I just use a dent popper like the ones you see on TV?

Unfortunately the dent poppers, suction cups and (this one makes me chuckle) dry ice simply don’t work. First let’s explore the “screw out dent poppers”. You’ve probably seen the late night Ding King infomercials showing you how easy it is to just glue on the tab, place the lifter on the tab and turn. POP! the dent’s gone! right? Wrong! the commercial never shows the large high spot, low spot still left or heaven forbid the high spot surrounding a low, or as i like to call them a “volcano”. The main reason this is a gimmick, missing tools and knowledge. Professional PDR technicians actually do use a method of removing some select dents from the front of a panel with tabs, special adhesives and a lifting apparatus.

The main difference? a technicians main assets are their eyes, reflective source, and hand-eye-coordination. a professional technician assesses the dent with a reflective source, be it a light, line board or reflective pole, and targets the “dead-center” of the dent. Once located the technician places a tab directly at this zero point and then uses a lifting device to bring the depressed metal as close to level as possible in one pull. Once the pull has been made the technician removes the tab and assesses the area to determine the next course of action. Usually, the area will require some work with a tap down device to level any areas that were pulled higher than level. This process may go on for several pulls and taps until the area is as close to level as possible. The do-it-yourself-er doesn’t get a reflective source, tap down or training in how to use each of these items and more often than not makes the once small door ding a variable mess when finally deciding to throw in the towel. The suction cup is simply ineffective.

Damage very large and gradual may actually move with a strong enough suction and it may actually look somewhat better than the original dent, but it effectively “locks” the metal into place and the distortions or buckles around the area that have not been properly removed before addressing the main low areas of the dent are now cementing everything into place. The remaining topic (and my favorite) dry ice and a hair dryer seems to get rave reviews on you-tube and the like. Unfortunately this once again doesn’t address the buckles and only sometimes removes a portion of the dent.

The main down side to this method is the process it uses. Dry ice or the “computer duster” propellant will rapidly cool the substrate and paint. The hair dryer is then used to rapidly bring the panel temp. above 150 degrees F. The rapid contraction and subsequent expansion of the substrate is what actually makes the dent pop but what’s happening on a much smaller level is paint damage. The paint is almost always micro-fractured which leads to paint cracking, peeling and corrosion. Much of this damage will not be seen for several months down the road when the elements have had time to breach the fractures and make them worse.

One PDR company is as good as another, Right?

All dent companies are not created equal and actually let me expand on that by saying all pdr technicians are not created equally. One of the main reasons for the boom in pdr company growth is the “claim to fame” or “gold rush” mentality. We’ve all seen the commercials for get rich quick schemes. Some very talented technicians have and still do make a very good living repairing dents. Most earn moderate incomes that do not carry bragging rights though. Every Tom, Dick and Harry tired of their 9-5 job learns about the alleged 6 figure income made by pdr technicians and heads out for two weeks of training at a mis-information factory such as Ding King or Right Look and thinks they will set the world on fire directly thereafter. In reality they spend two (or even one) weeks learning little about real world dents and almost always pick up bad habits that will doom them from ever being able to repair a dent properly.

The “Mills”,as they are affectionately referred to in the industry, also sell the aspiring technician a “package” deal complete with every tool needed to repair any dent out there. Unfortunately what they are actually getting is the cheapest set of Chinese made coat hangers good money can buy. The aspiring technician returns home after training and (after being told they are ready) begins selling their service. The problem being they often cannot see the dent properly to repair it and do not have the acquired skill set to fix the smallest of dings. The end result is a moderate improvement with high spots throughout the dent and even cracked paint. The technician either continues on frustrated, trying to do better (or not if they don’t care enough about the quality) or will lower prices justifying to themselves that a lower quality repair is still worth something.

And more still will throw in the towel all together after making such a bad name for themselves that they can no longer find work. This surge of low end “technicians” has led to a misconception that PDR is an inferior repair process as compared to a body shop. In fact, this conception is true when it pertains to someone performing such gross butchery. The general rule of thumb for a PROFESSIONAL Paintless Dent Repair is that it should cost between 1/2 to 1/3 that of a conventional body shop repair. Professional technicians have spend many hundreds, if not thousands, of hours perfecting their craft and don’t sell themselves short. If you find yourself shopping for the best deal (lets face it, in this economy who doesn’t) be leery of a rock bottom price. More often than not you WILL get what you pay for and will end up wishing you had paid a little more when rust starts to appear where the dent was, due to the hack cracking your vehicles paint!

To learn more about PDR and find the answers to common PDR questions visit our site http://dentsvanish.com

Transmission Repair Shop – Sneaky Tactics

I hate to say this but transmission repair shops employ some of the most dishonest practices in the automotive industry. They are able to get away with this for two reasons.

The first reason is for every 50 general automotive mechanic shops there are may be five transmission shops. So supply and demand naturally hires the prices these companies can charge. This is nothing new but some of these transmission companies get outrageous.

Second, unless you are a a specialist in this field you most likely know nothing about transmissions. Any technician can tell you anything and you have no verifiable way of double checking.

Here are some common scams in the transmission repair industry and some common mistakes that customers make:

We need a new transmission a shop will give usually give you two options. They can either install a brand-new transmission, which will cost a lot, or they can install a rebuilt transmission, which will still cost a lot but possibly be half the cost.

You have to understand the dangers in getting a rebuilt transmission. There is a good possibility that these will not be as good as a brand-new transmission or may not last as long. If you’re dealing with a reputable shop who has capable employees they can rebuild a long-lasting transmission.

They should also factor work up with some type of warranty. Do not get a rebuilt transmission without a decent warranty of some type. Make sure you get it in writing. There have been many shops who have sold customers rebuild transmissions and they failed within a matter of days or weeks.

Those same customers, of course being irate, came back to the shop only to find that that particular shop would not honor its “verbal” or “implied” guarantee. If you do however agree to a rebuilt transmission please do not come crying to the transmission repair shop when after the warranty you have problems again. He did go the cheapest route and you must understand that it comes with inherent risks.

Beware of transmission shops that have all sorts of low cost transmission maintenance services and specials to get in. Many of the automotive companies or what I like to call “commission fee based shops.” The shops pay their employees a small hourly wage but make it so they receive a percentage of their total gross sales.

Avoid these companies at all costs! These transmission repair shops have a system where they trick volumes of people every single day into their place of business with the lower at cheap rates and then convince them into buying services and parts they do not need.

This practice has become standard among many of the big box national chains and quite recently has been adopted by many of the small local ones. If you feel like you’re being pressured into buying something you feel you may not need, please, get a second opinion.

I have already touched a little upon the subject but I need to bring up the matter of warranties again. Every warranty and every guarantee needs to be in writing. Do not any transmission repair facility just tell you they back up all their work.

Do not just let them tell you you can bring your car back, and they will fix it for free, if within a couple weeks or months you experience the same problems they were supposed to fix. Every agreement should be in writing including all the terms and conditions.

And speaking of terms and conditions this brings us to the most common scam that most transmission repair facilities do. It is sad that many of these companies resort to what I’m about to say but all you have to do is look online and you will hear hundreds of horror stories.

You’re having transmission problems. You go to a local transmission repair shop and get an estimate. The parts and labor cost $1200. It seems fair see make arrangements to leave your vehicle with them for several days.

Within one day you get a call from the transmission shop. They proceed to tell you that the price is going to be more than what was on the estimate. The excuses are more numerous than the sands found on the beach. It could be any excuse from the parts costing more than expected to them not being aware of the certain problem when they first gave you the estimate.

So the result is that the price that was “$1200” is now “$3500.”

Now your typical person in this position has two options at this point. He can bite the bullet and pay the $3500, in effect paying $1800 more than what was agreed upon, or he can pick his car up.

Keep in mind that the cars is most likely already torn apart at this point. Here is where shops get even worse. In order for you to pick your car up the transmission shop is still going to charge you a fee for putting your car back together, storage, towing, and trust me they will find other miscellaneous charges to add upon that.

So you end up getting the work done, but in the process getting ripped off, or you’re left with the same broken car but you paid 500 bucks just to be able to pick it back up from a shop then attempted to screw you (and they did). It’s a no-win.

This is why you should only do business with reputable transmission repair shops. How do you know if the shop is reputable? In this day and age where honesty and honor are as common as black-and-white televisions you must do your homework.

Ask family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances for recommendations. The good transmission repair shops are out there. You just have to find them among the many bad ones.

Once you get a recommendation from someone you know look the shop up on the Better Business Bureau, local websites where people post reviews, and forums. Ask a transmission shop for customer references.

If they are in fact reputable they should be able to produce one or two happy customers you can talk to. A little due diligence goes a long way because once they have your car you are at their mercy.

Hopefully this article will have giving you insight about the tricks transmission repair shops employ to make a quick buck and hopefully you will be able to take this information and benefit from it.

Auto Repair Services in Okinawa, Japan: Mechanics That Speak English

I recently visited Okinawa, Japan and found the people there are very friendly and kind. One problem, however, is that most of them do not speak English. On my first morning there, I spent the entire time looking for a person who could tell me in English where I could find a bank. I needed to exchange my US dollars for Japanese yen.

In the neighborhood where I was staying I visited a grocery store, walked the streets, and finally found a small police station outside Kadena Air Base. They did not understand English, but they had a map. I said I was looking for a bank and they said "ginkou." I thought they said "banko." So I said "yes, yes!" They did direct me to a bank thankfully.

Now if it is that hard to discuss the location of a bank, imagine how difficult it is for a US serviceman or woman to talk to an automotive mechanic about repairing their vehicle. Fortunately, I know of 2 American mechanics that are retired military who live and work in Okinawa near the Kadena Air Base. I saw firsthand the relief on the faces of customers who came in to drop off or pick up their cars.

Bill Siekert is the owner and head mechanic at B&M Okinawa. Bill explained that some of the automotive services provided on bases nearby are priced a little high because they are run under contract and frankly, they have a bit of a monopoly.

In Okinawa, some auto parts can be a difficult to find. Bill grinned as he said, "One way we have been able to help our customers is to go to the local junk yards in the area and find the parts we need." It pays to have local connections. Bill speaks Japanese and has connections with local auto body specialists. Bill can arrange for any kind of automotive work that needs to be done.

If you are stationed in Okinawa, Japan you can contact Bill Siekert about his auto repair services or you can use this map with directions to his automotive repair shop .