There are many factors that determine how we price paintless dent repairs. Some of those factors may include the type of the metal, location on the panel, depth of the dent, access, and ultimately the final desired outcome. Let's break down these factors one by one, to show how they affect the final cost.
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1. Metal type: There are many different materials used in the manufacture of todays vehicles, each one harder than the other to repair. The first is mild steel, this is the most common type of steel used on exterior body panels. Most vehicles use this for all exterior panels. Next is high strength steel. This is increasingly being used for exterior body panels more and more.
This can be found mainly on doors, hoods, and roof skins. The next is aluminum. There have been vehicles made entirely out of aluminum for many years, although mostly very high end vehicles. In the 1990's they began using more aluminum for exterior panels, mainly hoods and a few liftgates on suv's. Eventually more and more panels are being made out of aluminum, hoods, fenders, doors, and in the case of the Ford F-series trucks, and a few other models, they are entirely made out of aluminum. With each of these new materials, come more complex repairs.
2. The location on the panel can be a big factor in how we determine the cost of repair. For example, if the dent is right out in the middle of the panel, with no bracing behind it, and we are able to easily get a tool to the back side of it, the cost is minimal because of the ease of repair. However, there is more and more bracing inside the panels, which can significantly increase the difficulty of the repair.
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The braces can be tight to the outer panel, or have a large gap, creating leverage issues, making it hard to apply the proper amount of pressure required to work out the dent. These braces are attached to the panel in different ways. Some are glued, and some are welded, usually they are both, welded at the ends and some sort of glue or foam which attaches it to the panel, helping with noise, vibration, and harshness. The glues and foams used can be extremely different to work around. Some are very soft and can be cut fairly easily to gain access , and others can be extremely hard to get a tool through. Which ever glue is used, must be replaced or repaired whenever it is cut for access.
In addition to bracing, style lines, or body lines, are extra difficult to repair. The metal in these areas has been "work hardened" by the forming process. It has long been believeat dents on body lines couldn't be repaired, however that is not always true. Experienced technicians repair body line dents all the time.
Sometimes dents are located in an area that is near impossible to reach with a tool, and still be able to have a proper viewing angle to perform the repair. This can be on the bottom of the doors, or the back edge of a hood or trunk lid, or front of the quarter panel. In some instances it is necessary to remove the panel, for the best access and best possible repair. We also have to take into account anything that has to be removed for proper access.
Other times the dents are in an area that is completely sealed, and access to the backside is not possible. These areas require a different method of repair. Using hot glue and specialized plastic tabs, and pullers, we are able to repair dents in those areas. This method adds time and materials to the repair, and requires special skills to perform.
3. Depth of the dent can determine if the repair will be successful or not. When the metal gets dented, there is a displacement of the metal, on a molecular level. If the affected area is large and deep, the possibility is greater for a successful repair. However if the affected area is small and the dent is deep (>1.8mm) the probability of the metal being stretched too much for a flat repair, is increased. This situation is minimized on areas with a body line or a convex area, as these features add strength to the area, and minimize stretching. Luckily with advances in technology, we are able to repair some extremely stretched dents, in some cases.
4. The final desired outcome can have an affect on the cost too. If one is looking for an absolute 100% invisible repair, the cost will be higher, as the final finishing of the repair is the most time consuming part of a high quality repair. Sometimes a customer is trading or selling the vehicle, so they are looking for a more cost effective repair. These repairs are designed to make the vehicle look better, while not breaking the budget. Sometimes the damage is so bad, we are asked to just get it back into a close shape, maybe so a door works properly again or a new headlight or tail light can be fitted. While these may not the kind of repairs we are real proud of, we always try to fit the best repair to the customers needs and budget.
This overview of how we determine cost for dent repair, highlights some of the factors that may be involved, and every case is different. We utilize an industry standard pricing structure, and app based estimating software to determine the cost of repair and break it all down in an understandable format. All repairs are backed by a lifetime workmanship guarantee, unless otherwise stated. Paintless dent repair is not always cheaper than traditional auto body work, but it is always better!