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How big of a dent can PDR fix?

Updated: Jun 9

How big of a dent can PDR fix?

When it comes to dents and dings, paintless dent repair (PDR) is often the best option without the hassle of costly, invasive procedures or lengthy repair times. But here's the thing—not all dents are created equal, and something that you might consider to be minor (or easily fixable) might actually be more serious than you think.


In this blog, we're clearing up everything you need to know about the dents and dings that can’t be fixed through paintless dent repair magic. So, let's take a closer look at dents and damage of varying shapes and sizes and demystify those instances where paintless dent removal isn’t your go-to option.

What are the different types of car dents?



Large dent on Subaru SUV
Large dent on quarter of Subaru SUV


The spectrum of damage for dings and dents is diverse, each with their own unique challenges for repair. So, first of all, it’s important to understand the type of damage you’re working with—and if these instances can be dealt with through textbook paintless dent repair methods.


Door dings


Commonly encountered in parking lots or crowded spaces, door dings are shallow dents typically caused by minor collisions with adjacent vehicles or stationary objects.


Due to their shallow nature and minimal paint damage, door dings are usually prime candidates for paintless car dent repair and can often be seamlessly repaired without the need for repainting, so more often than not you needn’t worry about other, more complex fixes.


Door dings, whether big or small, are unlikely to affect the structural integrity of your vehicle (more on that below), so you can generally consider these safe for PDR.


Hail damage


While hailstorms can sometimes be scary and intense, your car won’t take too much of a beating in most cases. At most, hail damage should only leave behind a myriad of small, circular dents across your car’s body panels.


While the sheer volume of dents may seem daunting, paintless dent repair is usually a good option for hail damage. Using specialized paintless dent repair tools and techniques, technicians can systematically remove each dent, restoring the vehicle's exterior to its pre-damaged condition.


That being said, if you notice any particularly bad dents from hail damage, you shouldn’t necessarily rest assured that paintless dent repair will be a sure fix. If you’re still worried about the safety of your vehicle, never rule out seeking a second opinion if you think structural or severe damage may have been caused.




Unlike shallow dents, creases are characterized by sharp, pronounced lines in the metal surface, often resulting from more significant impacts or collisions. While some creases may be too deep or extensive for paintless dent repair, advanced paintless dent repair techniques can still be used to gradually massage the metal back into shape, albeit with limitations depending on the severity of the crease.


Sharp protrusions


Sharp protrusions, such as those caused by impacts from debris or objects, pose a unique challenge for paintless dent repair methods. That’s generally because these protrusions can cause stretched or torn metal.


However, depending on the extent of the damage, the metal may still be capable of enough manipulation to minimize the protrusion, even though complete restoration may not always be achievable (especially as far as the original paintwork is concerned).


Extensive paint damage


Dents accompanied by extensive paint damage, such as deep scratches or paint chipping, may also present limitations. While the dent itself may be repairable to an extent, addressing the accompanying paint damage could require additional steps, such as touch-up painting or blending to achieve a seamless finish.


In instances like this, a combination of paintless dent repair and cosmetic paint restoration techniques might be necessary to fully restore your vehicle's appearance.


Other factors to consider


You should also always bear in mind the dent’s location. For example, a door panel dent, often caused by careless parking lot encounters or wayward shopping carts, tends to be shallower and more localized. In contrast, a bumper dent, typically resulting from low-speed collisions or parking mishaps, may involve larger surface areas and more complex contours.


Also, the material composition of different vehicle parts can impact the feasibility of repair through normal PDR methods. While steel panels can respond well to paintless dent repair techniques, plastic bumpers often require more specialized attention due to their flexibility and susceptibility to cracking.


Finally, never underestimate the impact that dents, dings, or any other type of damage can have on your car from a safety standpoint. If any type of damage compromises the structural ability of your vehicle, paintless dent repair is definitely off the cards.


What is structural damage on a car?

Structural damage is classified as anything that compromises the vehicle's safety and stability—specifically any severe issues that may affect the integrity of the vehicle's frame or chassis. A car with structural damage might have bent frames, crumpled panels, and other forms of significant deformation resulting from high-speed collisions or accidents.


Addressing structural damage requires specialized equipment and expertise to ensure structural integrity is fully restored.


Discovering structural damage on your vehicle can be a concerning and potentially dangerous situation. Whether it's a result of a collision, accident, or any other significant impact—addressing structural damage requires careful consideration and prompt action to ensure the safety of your vehicle.


What should I do if my car is damaged beyond paintless dent repair?

Remember, just because a dent is particularly large doesn’t mean that it can’t be fixed through PDR. That being said, if you’ve taken on board everything above and are still convinced otherwise, just consider the following steps as a good starting point to get your car back in fit shape:


Carefully assess the damage again


Before you completely rule out the possibility of PDR, carefully look for visible deformation, such as bent frames, crumpled panels, or misaligned components. These are the telltale signs of structural damage.  Also, pay attention to any unusual noises, vibrations, or handling issues while driving, as these may also indicate underlying structural issues.


Take it to a professional


A qualified automotive technician or body shop specialist can conduct a thorough inspection of your vehicle to assess the extent of the damage accurately. They’ll have all the expertise and equipment necessary to identify structural issues and recommend appropriate repair solutions.


Repair options can vary depending on the severity of the structural damage. In some cases, minor structural issues may be fixed through frame straightening or panel realignment techniques. More extensive damage can require more comprehensive repairs, such as frame replacement or chassis reinforcement (which all adds up from a cost perspective).


Prioritize safety


Never take chances. If your vehicle has sustained significant structural damage, always opt for alternative transportation options until repairs can be finished off professionally. It goes without saying, but your safety and the safety of others on the road should always be the top priority.

The key takeaway

Although the size of dent is generally considered on a case-by-case basis, it’s still important to assess your car for anything you might suspect as structural damage.  


However, if you’ve noticed a dent and feel confident that paintless dent repair is the best route to explore first, get in touch and let us know how we can help. Even if the damage is beyond paintless dent repair, we can still give you a helping hand and advise on next steps

Finished Dent Repair on Subaru quarter panel
Subaru large dent repaired

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