If you’re brand new to paintless dent repair there are only three things you need to get started.
I recommend that beginners take some time to research online before committing fully to paintless dent repair. Learn what the job actually entails, as it can be very tedious.
The second thing you’ll need is a car to work on, or at least some scrap panels for practicing. You don’t want to work on a brand new RS4 when starting out because you can actually cause further damage.
Finally, you’ll need tools. This is what I will cover in this article, suggesting the best pdr tools for beginners.
My aim is to educate you on the tools that you need and enable you to set up a beginners tool kit that’s perfect for learning and building on as you become more experienced.
Essential PDR Tools
Before you even think about rods, glue pullers, and other dent removal tools, make sure you’ve got yourself the items I’ve listed below. They’re absolutely fundamental in learning paintless dent removal and can be bought cheap and upgraded as you go.
The reflector board is one of the most basic tools you can get. This will help you to read the shape of the panel, telling you where the high and low spots are.
Line boards are the most commonly used reading tool, but there are other options such as a fog board. It’s really about finding your own preference, which will come over time.
The price on these boards can range anywhere from $5-500.
If you’ve ever looked at DIY PDR kits, you’ll have noticed they use a cheap cardboard type of line board. The lower-quality boards are obviously cheaper to buy.
You could also get a mid-range board such as the JMGist LED Stripe Line Board.
This is a significant step up in build quality. Instead of it being a piece of card, you have an actual sturdy unit that’s built out of plastic. It also comes with a built-in light that’s powered by USB, which offers a much better reflection than the cheaper boards.
Finally, if you ever get to the enthusiast or professional level, making a yearly income off of Paintless Dent Repair, there are some very high-end options.
The Elimadent boards are huge standalone boards that come on rolling stands and can be placed absolutely anywhere around the car.
These require huge investments but offer a lot more coverage and much higher build quality. They’re also much less likely to damage the car by falling off, unlike the suction cup products.
Glass Protector Board
A lot of the dents you’ll be working on as a beginner are door dings. They’re among the most common dents, thanks to people that carelessly open car doors or leave shopping carts lying around the car park.
For a lot of door dents, the best way to fix them is by sliding a rod down the door, via the top of the door skin. Using a glass protector board will prevent you from scratching the window and may even in some cases offer you extra leverage.
The glass protector boards are fairly cheap. I wouldn’t be paying any more than $30 for one. It’s definitely cheaper to buy one of these boards than it is to replace a door window.
Window boards are often paired with window wedges. Using the window wedge will push the window back as far as possible to maximize the space in which you can work.
Even when using these, you may only get an extra inch of space to work in. Car windows are sat in a door frame and can only move so much.
If you’re a beginner that’s looking to keep it cheap, I recommend this MMPP bundle that offers both a window guard and wedge at a very affordable price.
Wet Wipe Marker Pen
The best way to build an estimate for PDR is to circle all of the dents on the panel or even the car that you’re working on. This way you’ll be able to upsell to the customer and also make the customer aware of the dents on the car.
If you’re just working on your own car, this is still very useful. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of dents, this is especially the case while working on white cars.
Using a marker pen you can assess the car first, mark all the dents and remove them 1 by 1, this guarantees that you don’t miss any.
Paintless Dent Removal Tools For Beginners
Glue Pulling is the first thing everyone thinks of when it comes to PDR. We tend to use glue pulls on smaller dents such as light hail damage.
To start glue pulling you’re going to need 4 things.
Hot Glue Gun & PDR Glue – A lot of people overlook this, but the glue is the foundation of your pull. If you have a cheap glue or a gun that doesn’t heat the glue up enough, you’re going to have a bad pull.
I have a whole article dedicated to PDR glue and the type you should use. I recommend using glue from well-known brands that is known to work. If you opt for the cheaper stuff, it will take you more pulls, or you may just have to buy the good stuff anyway.
Glue Pulling Tabs – This is what connects the whole system together.
To be able to pull dents you need to have a glue puller that will pull your tab and a pdr glue that will connect the tab to the damaged panel.
Tabs come in all different shapes and sizes as glue pulling is not a one size fits all solution. You have to tackle dents in many different ways. As you become more experienced you’ll quickly know which tab is the best for the task at hand.
Glue Puller – A glue puller or dent lifter comes in various different shapes and sizes.
The most common glue puller is a gun. You put this over the top of a glue pulling tab and it will gently pull the dent out. Applying too much pressure at once could result in you overpulling the dent or the tab breaking off the panel.
You can also get a glue-pulling bridge that works in a very similar fashion. This allows you to pull deeper creases and bigger dents with one big pull.
Finally, the other option is a sliding hammer. You connect the sliding hammer to the glue tab and hammer the dent out. This is good for bigger dents, but it’s very easy to overpull a dent.
Since there are no feet stopping the surrounding panel from being pulled with your dent, this can create a much bigger high. You need to be careful using the sliding hammer, and will probably need to invest in a hammer and tap-down set.
Glue Remover – Finally once you’re done pulling, you’re going to need to remove the glue tab and pdr glue from the panel.
There are a couple of glue-removing solutions. The one I recommend is rubbing alcohol.
This is available in 70%, 90%, and 99% ratio. I found that the 70% was ineffective and would recommend getting the product that’s 90% or more.
Applying a couple of drops to the glue will let you remove the glue from the car a majority of the time.
If you’re finding that the glue is too hard or doesn’t want to come off with the alcohol solution, try heating it up and going again.
Always wear gloves when removing the glue. Getting isopropyl alcohol into your skin will dry it out and can even enter your bloodstream.
If you’re having trouble with the glue not sticking to your panel, I’d also recommend using this product to clean the surface before pulling.
Just like glue pulling tools, there are many different PDR rods available.
Every rod is created with a different use in mind. The general idea is that they’ll be pushing a dent out from behind, it’s just a matter of different rods accessing different places.
Ideally, you want a couple of different rods for starting out.
I recommend getting a shorter one for upper door sections. A medium-length bar that’ll be used mostly on the midsection of your door and a longer one that gets right to the bottom of your door.
The other thing to keep in mind is the fact that a lot of PDR bars are actually sided and will only push out a certain way. You’ll learn to use these tools, but, they can feel awkward in the beginning.
As long as you have your three different lengths of bars, you should be good to go. As you become more advanced and actually enjoy PDR, then you could start experimenting with rods and find ones that are for specialist jobs.
PDR Bar With Screw Tips
As I’ve just touched on, there are many tools for different types of dents. Getting yourself a PDR bar that has a changeable tip will allow you to get more jobs done with “less” tools.
I recommend getting a medium-sized bar, with at least one bend in it as this will help to access dents on all types of panels. You really want the tip at an angle as well so that you get extra leverage and control.
You’ll find that the tips come in all different shapes and sizes. Some domed, and others sharper. This will allow you to work out sharp creases or even more rounded dents.
Just make sure you get one with a decent number of tips and make sure that they don’t break upon first use.
“O” Ring & Heavy Duty S hooks
A lot of the time when doing PDR you’ll struggle to find a place to lever off. This is often the case when doing PDR on hoods, trunks, and sometimes even quarters.
To get around this, we use heavy-duty “o” rings and “s” hooks that we can hang on surrounding areas. This allows a technician more leverage on panels that are single-skinned by putting the bar through the ring and pushing against it.
This doesn’t need to be a “PDR” specific tool. You could get something similar at your local DIY store.
I wish I knew about these when I first started. I must’ve wasted countless hours trying to repair hoods without them. It was certainly very frustrating.
Another option if you want even more leverage is the MMPP S Hook, T Holder lever. You can hang this on almost any aperture and get amazing leverage from it.
Tap Down Tools
As a beginner, when you’re pushing and pulling dents out, you’re going to create high spots. It’s a given. Even the professionals do it!
Providing the metal isn’t stretched to a point of no return, using a hammer and a nylon tap down will enable you to knock down these high spots.
Don’t rely on these as a get-out-of-jail-free card though. Rather use them as a finishing tool and try your best to remove dents without the need of tapping down any major highs.
You don’t need to go expensive with these, especially since you’re just starting out. This kit from JMGist is more than enough.
DIY Paintless Dent Repair Kits
There is an abundance of DIY PDR kits available to buy but which one is best for you?
Below is a list of the best PDR kits money can buy, I’ve included a kit for all price points so don’t worry if you can’t afford to spend over $100 on PDR, That’s probably why you’re doing it yourself anyway!
Most PDR kits come with an empty “alcohol bottle” this is for Isopropyl alcohol to clean the glue off after you’ve made a pull. You WILL NEED TO buy your own Isopropyl or Acetone.
You don’t need to buy a kit. This is just an easy solution to be able to fix dents yourself at home.
If you’re interested in taking PDR further, I recommend using the products mentioned above and beginning to build your own tool kit.
Types of dent repair kits
PDR tools have one of two uses, they either pull metal into place or they push metal into place.
As a PDR beginner, you’re most likely going to be buying a pulling kit as well as a tap-down kit (if it’s not already provided in your pull kit).
Read how to use a dent puller before you buy one, this way you know what you’re getting yourself involved with.
Glue Pulling Kit – This is by far the most common kit used. It’s fairly straight forward and there’s a lot of content on youtube you can watch if you’re struggling.
What’s great about Glue Pulling kits is that they often come with all the pieces you’ll need to remove a dent as an amateur.
When buying a glue pull kit you’re supplied with a dent pulling device, glue tabs that attach to it, PDR glue sticks, and depending on the kit, a hot glue gun.
There are 3 types of glue pulling devices that are commonly used in these kits, I’d personally opt for a slide hammer when possible.
Suction Pulling Kit – I suggest you stay away from these. They can be effective for bigger dents and can even pull with 130lbs+ of force but they also seem to be the tool that is the least consistent at providing results.
You also have to buy lots of different-sized pullers because the bigger ones don’t work on small dents. If you insist on giving suction kits a go, Manelord provides a cheap, quality-looking puller but it is for big dents only!
Tap Down Kits – Tap downs are made of aluminum and have various different plastic heads that allow you to flatten high spots without scratching or damaging the panel you’re working on.
You’ll often find tap downs and hammers in many of the glue pulling kits. If not, you better buy one. Everyone in the industry owns some form of tap-down device and you should too. They’re very useful.
Push from behind (Specialist PDR Rods) – If you want to operate as a professional PDR technician you will have to master the trade using specialist rods.
Specialist PDR rods are made in all different shapes and sizes with lots of different purposes. The main idea for each rod is that they allow you to access the back of a dent so you can gently massage the metal back into place.
Most Complete PDR KIT: GLISTON 89 Piece Paintless Dent Repair Kit
If you want the best tools for the job, you’re going to have to pay for that privilege. Glistons’ 89 piece set is the most extensive set I have found for the money.
It comes in over $100 but it provides you with every tool you could ever need for DIY PDR and will save you much more in repair costs!
This set gives you 3 dent pulling devices (including a slide hammer), a tap down kit, a glue gun ,8 glue sticks, numerous glue tabs and an LED Reflector board which helps you perfect those hellish highs and lows.
Thankfully for those of you who don’t want the hassle of having to watch videos on every single tool in the set, Gliston has created detailed picture guides with text teaching you just enough to get the finish you desire.
Gliston is so confident in their long-lasting product quality they offer 2 years warranty. If you find a way to break the robust dent removal tools in the first 2 years you own them, they’re happy to replace them or send you a refund!
Buy the Gliston 89 Piece PDR Kit on Amazon
Best Value for Money: Super PDR 68Pcs Paintless Dent Repair Kit
There’s a lack of PDR kits that offer more than a budget kit but not quite enough to be a premium option. Super PDR Clearly caught on and has released a 68 piece kit with 4 pullers, a tap down kit, a glue gun, PDR glue, and many different glue tabs.
The Super PDR kit misses out on quite a lot of useful extras but the major item you miss out on when buying this kit over the Gliston one is the LED Reflective board.
When compared to our budget option, the benefits of the Super PDR kit become very obvious. You get a Slide Hammer, a higher quality tap down kit with various rubber heads, and many more glue tabs.
This is a very nice kit for those that can’t afford to spend the extra cash on the Gliston kit. It’s a big upgrade on a budget option and is not too far away from being a premium DIY PDR kit. It also comes with 12 month warranty if you’re worried you don’t like it!
Click here to buy the SuperPDR 68 Piece kit on Amazon now!
Budget PDR KIT: ARISD Paintless Dent Repair Kit (Gold Dent Lifter)
Now for a budget option, ARISD has released an affordable beginner PDR kit which comes with 1 Golden lifter, 1 bridge dent puller, 1 glue gun, 15 glue tabs, 10 PDR glue sticks, scrapers and more.
For the price, you can’t really complain, the build quality is good and you even get a plastic tap down tool in the kit. If you’re looking to learn PDR for less than $50, this set provides everything you will need as well as instructions on how to use each tool.
ARISD previously released a golden dent puller which broke easily, since then they’ve improved the build quality and released this set as a solution.
Just like Gliston, ARISD is offering a 2-year warranty on this kit. If you find any issues with this kit send it back to Amazon and receive a replacement or your money back.
It may take a couple of pulls but the ARISD kit will allow you to restore your car back to factory without damaging your bank account.
Purchase the ARSID kit on amazon today and make your car look brand new tomorrow!
Slide Hammer PDR KIT: YOOHE Slide Hammer/T-Bar PDR Kit
I felt as though I should include a Slide Hammer kit because it’s by far my favorite tool and is very versatile.
Both the Gold Lifter and Bridge pullers require the feet to sit evenly on the panel so that it can generate force and pull the dent out whereas the slide hammer does not. Instead, you have to create the force by pulling the sliding rod backward. This method of pulling requires effort. if you’re not willing or able to use muscle, stick to the other devices.
YOOHE have managed to keep the price low and the build quality high with this kit. It’s also fairly inventive as the slide hammer can double up as a T-bar.
As well as the slide hammer you’ll receive 16 Black glue tabs to fit all dents and 6 glue sticks. Unfortunately, like most low-cost PDR kits, you’ll need to supply your own glue gun.
You cannot go wrong when buying this YOOHE Slide Hammer Kit from Amazon.
Entry-level PDR Rod Kit: WHDZ PDR Rods Auto Body Dent Repair
If you’re looking for a quick fix you’re better off sticking to the kits above. PDR rods probably aren’t for you.
As suggested throughout the article, If you are serious about learning PDR as a skill or trade you should buy a set of rods because it will allow you to practice like the professionals. Be prepared to learn about each rod and what sharp, flat and round ends will do for your finish.
Professional PDR is a huge learning curve and you should be prepared to invest thousands of hours into the trade.
If you buy these tools I’d suggest practicing on panels that are scrap, don’t try to use them on your prized possession until you know you can fix it. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and your local breakers will have cheap doors and hoods you can buy to practice on.
The WHDZ 6 Piece kit is great for beginners, it’s an affordable price and gives you various different types of rods that will help expand your knowledge.
These are professional PDR rods built for the trade, they are not easy to bend, it is unlikely they will rust if looked after properly and they will not damage paint when pushing from behind.
Serious about learning PDR? Buy the PDR Rod kit on amazon now.