Everyone admires a freshly waxed car that gleams in the sunshine with no scratches or dents. Unfortunately, small and large accidents happen regardless of where you park your car or how careful you drive.
Even parking your car in a parking lot away from other cars does not guarantee that someone will not bump into it, or an errant shopping cart rams your car, leaving dents, dings, and scratches.
Small fender benders are common at stop signs where one driver is not paying attention and rams the car in front. Bicycles fall against your car in the driveway causing door dings or scrape against it as someone is walking by.
All of these situations routinely cost consumers millions of dollars every day. This post is intended to help readers understand when they need dent repair, how the repair is done, and why they are so expensive.
How much does dent repair cost?
The average cost to repair a dent on a car can be broken down into different categories. For example, a dent on one of the doors may cost less than a full bumper repair due to a collision with another vehicle. A small dent that has also removed some of the paint will also take more time than a simple scratch to the paint.
The type of vehicle and whether specialized paint has been used is another factor impacting the repair cost. Estimates of the cost to make the repair job can also depend on where you live and the availability of body shops in the area where you live.
A dented bumper with associated scratches may cost from $50 to $2000 depending on the extent of the damage, the type and make of the car, and whether the bumper needs to be replaced.
Small dents with associated paint scratches along the side of your vehicle can cost anywhere from $1500 to $3500 in total charges. Painting the entire car, repairing a detailed paint job on a pricey car can drive up the repair cost even further.
Why is dent repair so expensive?
Minor dents in a side panel on a car door or fender can often be repaired relatively easily using a Paintless Dent Removal (PDR) process. PDR involves situations where the paint is intact, and the small dent can be removed using specialized tools and reshaping of the metal. The dent removal process is quick and inexpensive.
However, larger dents may involve replacement of the panel, sanding, repainting of the panel, or even the entire car if exact paint matches to factory paint cannot be obtained. Skilled PDR technicians must spend hours reshaping the metal to remove the dent, applying several coats of paint, and allowing for the car’s paint to dry between each coat of paint.
Depending on the size of the dent, the price amount to replace body panels, dent removal, and repaint can run into thousands of dollars, especially on vehicles with detailed paint jobs and pricey vehicles. Side panels are typically made of metal, while bumpers are typically made of plastic on later model vehicles. Although plastic parts are less expensive, replacement costs can still be expensive.
Factors that Play a Role When Calculating Dent Repair Cost
Numerous factors affect the cost of dent repair on a vehicle. We list some of these as follows:
- Number of dents
- Location of the damage, e.g., flat surface vs. dent repair near body lines
- Size of the dent
- Body parts affected, e.g., bumper or side panels
- Specialty paints and finishes
- Skilled technicians vs. unskilled technicians
- Age of your vehicle and how much you want to spend
Smaller dents, not on a body line, that do not involve specialty paints are going to be less expensive to repair compared to a situation with multiple large dents on body lines with specialty paints on a newer car.
Size of the dents
Smaller dents take much less time to repair, perhaps can be completed with the PDR approach. Larger dents may need to have the entire bumper or body panel replaced. At the minimum, body filler must be added and sanded down to create a smooth finish.
The body panel or bumper must be painted with paint that matches your existing paint finish. Otherwise, the entire car must be repainted. On older cars, the original paint may have faded to some degree due to the sun, so matching paint finishes are more challenging.
Replacing body parts can sometimes be less expensive compared to the time it takes to fix the dents, apply filler, sanding, and repainting. Here is where you need to evaluate your repair options.
Number of dents
The number of dents can significantly impact the total amount of the repair. One dent caused by a baseball hitting the car on the side panel will cost a minimum amount compared to a hail storm causing lots of dents all over the car.
A multiple dent repair situation can cause an entire body panel to be replaced since repairing lots of dents can be expensive. Replacing an entire panel and painting the panel to match the rest of the car will be much less.
A hail storm can severely damage a car. Worse case situations like this can make the repairs to the car prohibitive. Insurance companies may decide to write the car off because the repair cost to a severely damaged car will be more than the car is worth.
Location of the dent
The best location for a dent is in the middle of a side panel. You can fix this type of dent using either the PDR approaches and repainting only the side panel. A dent along a body line can involve several panels or a line on a fender that requires more time to repair to match existing body lines. In some situations, it may be practical to replace the entire panel instead of repairing it.
Plastic bumpers can be repaired. However, if there is serious dent damage, collision repair shops will often recommend complete replacement of the bumper. There could be damage to the supporting elements behind the bumper, which must also be replaced.
Who makes the dent repair?
Doing your dent repair or hiring a bargain-based body shop might be less expensive than other locations. The quality of the work may show after the dent repair jobs have been completed. Poorly matched paintjob can also be visible. Some of the signs to look for after a less expensive car repair include:
- Running paint
- Sagging paint
- Color mismatch
- Nonmatching textures
If you want your car to look great after the dent repair process has been completed, be prepared to spend additional money and hire a quality body shop that will repair the car dents in a way that cannot be detected.
The type of repair
While the dent location, size, amount, and quality of paint are significant factors in the cost of repairing dents, who does the specialized repairs and the quality also play a significant role in the repair cost. All of these factors can influence the total amount.
Newer vehicles with few blemishes from the sun, salt, and dust may only need one panel repainted. Collision repair shops can easily match the color and finish of paint to the rest of the car, and your car’s finish will look great.
Older vehicles that have been exposed to far more environmental damage along with small scratches are more difficult to disguise body work. The new panel may look much better than the rest of the car. Car owners may decide to have their entire car repainted with the associated scratches and blemishes repaired at the same time.
Different Types of Car Dent Repair Methods and Their Costs
There are three different car dent repair methods that are considered by auto body repair shops. Each has cost trade-offs, and the choice depends on the kind of damage and your budget. The different types include:
- Paintless Dent Repair (PDR)
- Traditional Dent Removal – without removing panels
- Traditional Car Dent Repair – replacement of panels and bumpers
- Hail Damage Dent Repair
Each one has benefits in terms of car dent repair cost and the time needed to make repairs. PDR is used for smaller dents on side panels, for example, and often costs much less than traditional dent removal involving body filler, sanding, and painting of side panel or body line.
Traditional Dent Repair Cost
Traditional dent repairs usually involve larger dents in multiple locations where the dent is repaired, or the panel is completely replaced. The costs can vary depending on the location, the size, the number of dings, and whether you decide to have only the panel repainted or the entire car repainted.
The costs for traditional dent repair can vary from approximately $500 to several thousand. Your choice of a budget body repair shop vs. one that is considered a top-tier repair shop also is a factor in the total amount.
You might be satisfied with repairs that still show blemishes or paints that are not perfectly matched on older vehicles. However, the type of car, for example, newer high-end vehicles, most people prefer to have repairs that bring your car to its original luster.
There is a trade-off in total costs for making repairs to lots of dings vs. replacing the entire panel. Most shops will review these costs with you and provide the options on which you can base your decision.
Paintless Dent Repair Cost
The Paintless dent repair cost is usually less expensive than traditional body work. A minor dent can be repaired for under $500 and sometimes even much less if the dent is in an accessible location and not too deep. One of the important requirements is that the paintjob on the car has not been damaged.
A body damage technician assesses the location and the size of the dent before choosing to use PDR. Using special tools, the technician and apply pressure and pulls the dent back into the original shape of the panel while preserving the original finish of the car.
Each dent must be repaired in this manner. If there are multiple dents in a panel, it may be more practical to replace the panel compared to using a PDR approach on each dent. In addition, dings on curve lines and bumpers often require a traditional repair job.
Hail Damage Dent Repair Cost
Both PDR and traditional car dent repair techniques are used for repairing damages caused by hail. In severe damage situations on older vehicles, insurance companies may write the car off due to the cost of dent repair adding up to more than the car is worth.
Hail damage that does not break the paint can often be fixed using PDR. Hailstones can damage your new car in multiple locations, along paint lines, and also crack windows. Each dent must be removed individually, or the entire panel replaced.
The price you are going to pay for hail damage repair also can increase if the hail is large and breaks the paint finish. In these situations, traditional dent repair methods must be used.
Every situation is unique. The decision to make the dent repair will be influenced by the total damage, the age of your car, and the insurance coverage you may have on the car. For some vehicles, it is just not worth it to make the dent repair.
Does Paintless dent repair work?
A Paintless dent repair fix does well in specific situations. Small dings where the paint has not been broken or chipped, and on panels, not near edges are the ideal scenarios.
The repairs can be made quickly and easily, often on the same day, without the need to leave your car overnight. An appointment is needed at most locations which makes it much more convenient for most people. However, car owners should be prepared to pay more if PDR cannot be used.
The PDR technician will assess the dent, the location, and the number of dents if there is more than one. If PDR is not applicable in your situation, traditional dent repair techniques may be needed, taking more time and increasing the total cost.
Benefits of Using Paintless Dent Repair
There are numerous benefits to paintless dent repair if this technique can be used in your specific situation. Benefits include:
- Paintless dent repair costs are less expensive
- Work can almost always be completed on the same day
- Ideal for small dings to the driver side door
- Retention of the original paint on your body panel
- Avoids paint matching issues or peeling paint
- Very cost-effective method that works in most dents
While PDR cannot be used in every situation, it is worth asking about the technique and whether it can be used in your situation due to the lower cost and the other benefits.
This technique can also work for hail damage. However, the number of dings becomes a factor in the total cost compared to traditional methods.
Can you do PDR yourself?
Most consumers will avoid doing this work themselves. However, they may be tempted on an older car in situations where the total costs are a factor. Purchase the appropriate tools and watch several online videos explaining the techniques and then practice on a few dings that are lower down on the panel, which may not be noticed as much if mistakes are made.
Your fallback is always an auto body shop that may have to apply traditional approaches to dent repair. Consumers should note that they need to be able to gain access to the location of the dent. Follow online guidelines for using the PDR approach.
Can you fix every dent with the Paintless dent removal process?
In short, the answer is no. Not every dent can be fixed with the PDR approach. Dents on corners where the paint has been chipped or scrapped, and serious damages are among the type of dents that cannot be fixed using PDR approaches.
In addition, if there are many dings, e.g., from a hail storm, using the PDR approach may not be cost-effective unless you are doing the repairs yourself. Every dent has a cost attached to it. Depending on the number of dents, it may be more cost-effective to replace the panel and repaint the panel to match the car’s existing paint.
Is it worth fixing a small dent on a car?
It is worth fixing a small dent on a car. First of all, it keeps your car looking great and protects the car’s finish. Your car will be worth more if you sell it. Many leasing companies also charge a penalty for dings that they consider to be beyond normal wear and tear when the car is returned at the end of the lease.
Secondly, if the paint has been broken, exposing the metal underneath, the metal will begin rusting and cause even more damage as well as detract from the look of the car. Cars with rust damage depreciate very quickly.
Sometimes it becomes difficult to use the paintless dent repair method when the dented area is located close to body lines. This typically causes the dent repair to be more expensive than a repair located on a flat surface of the car.
Is the cost to repair dents covered by insurance?
In many situations, the dent repair cost is covered by insurance, depending on the type of policy you have. Broken or cracked windshields are covered under comprehensive coverage and cost the car owner very little for glass repair when claimed. Some dents may be covered under the same coverage.
However, there can be a catch to claiming a dent repair job on your insurance. Many policies, while they will pay for the repairs, tend to increase their insurance premiums after a claim. For a minor dent that you can fix at a lower cost, it may make sense for you to pay for the cost yourself.
Always let the auto body repair shop know if you plan to pay for the dent repair yourself. They may give you a small discount since they do not have to administer the paperwork associated with an insurance claim.
If you got into a car accident and it cost dent damages, then the insurance company will probably cover the car dent repair cost if they consider this damage to be part of the accident. Make sure you point out all of the dent and paint damage when you file your insurance claim.
Pivot Tips To Save Money Using Paintless Dent Repair
Several methods can be used to fix a dent in your car. The repair processes include Paintless Dent Removal and traditional auto body dent repair. A door ding where the paint has not been broken can be removed using PDR at a much lower cost.
There is a trade-off between repairing dents vs. replacing the entire panel. When you have more than one dent, sometimes it is less expensive to replace the panel. Sometimes the paintless dent repair cost can be high in this type of situation.
Repairing dents helps keep your car looking great and maintains the value of your car. It is recommended to fix the dented area to avoid future problems with corrosion and deterioration of the metal. If you lean to use the PDR rods, you can push the dents out from the interior panels. This is a very effective paintless dent removal method.
Consumers should also review the average costs of the repair and whether the owner should claim their car insurance coverage. Sometimes it is economical to pay for the dent repair out of your pocket vs. making an insurance claim and having your car insurance premiums increase.
Other factors to consider when it comes to paintless dent repair is that dent repair takes a lot of experience and patience. The first dent repair, if you try to do the body work yourself, may take a lot of practice and may involve different paintless dent removal techniques. It is not a bad idea to try it out in your own car to see if you can save money.