Storm Season and Your Municipality's Auto Exposure

Protecting your municipality’s autos and equipment can be challenging, as most of our pool members have no means to park or store their equipment to protect it from hail or wind driven debris. During our storm seasons, we find we must dispatch our emergency vehicles to various areas within the municipality to best protect the public. When possible, when we experience this type of event, we should consider moving our autos and equipment to any covered area that we can find. Use of a covered car wash or bank could save your municipality considerable property damage. 

When damage does occur, many times estimates for repair can include a repair method known as Paintless Dent Repair. 

Paintless Dent Repair (PDR), also known as “Paintless Dent Removal” is a collection of techniques for removing minor dents and dings from the body of a motor vehicle. A wide range of damage can be repaired using PDR; however, usually if there is paint damage, PDR may be unsuitable. 

The most common practical use for PDR is the repair of hail damage, door dings, minor body creases, and minor bumper indentations. The techniques can also be applied to help prepare the damaged panel for paint. Such applications are referred to as “push to paint”, or “push for paint”. 

Limiting factors for a successful repair using PDR include the flexibility of the paint, and the amount the metal has been stretched by the damage incurred. Hence, often extremely sharp dents and creases may not be repairable – at least not without painting afterwards. 

Methods of Repair

The most common methods of PDR utilize metal rods and body picks to push the dents out from the inner side of the body panel being repaired. Also, glue may be used from the outside of the panel to pull the dents out. In either case, fine-tuning of the repair often involves “tapping” down the repair to remove small high spots, making the surface flat. PDR may be used on both aluminum and steel panels. If a technician pushes too hard when creating these high spots, the paint will split and the repair is ruined. Quality technicians can use these high spots that are barely visible to match the texture of the paint. 

The technology of PDR has been around for many years. Fluorescent lighting, or in some cases a light-reflection board, is used to see the shadows created by the deformation of the dent. This is an important aspect of the repair process. Without a PDR light board or reflector board, the fine detail of the process is unseen, and the technician cannot locate their tool specifically and cannot remove the damage accurately. The process of PDR requires a technician to specifically push exact locations of metal to precise height, which can be witnessed with use of a PDR reading instrument such as a PDR reflector board or PDR light.  

Many of the larger body shops now offer Paintless Dent Repair as an alternative to the normal body repair and paint. PDR can be done for about one third of the cost in one third of the time and can keep some vehicles from being out of service for longer than necessary or determined to be total losses. Many of these same body shops subcontract the work to shops that use the PDR method. Use of this process, when appropriate, can help the city keep their loss ratios lower with the lower damage repair costs. 

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