If you’re brand new to paintless dent repair there are only three things you need to get started.
I recommend that beginners do some research before investing in paintless dent repair.
Learn what the job actually entails, as it can be very frustrating and 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.
I’ve seen a lot of cars with cracked paint, high spots, and other defects after some amateur has tried to fix it.
Finally, you’ll need tools. In this article I recommend the best pdr tools for beginners, what they do and how to use them.
My aim is to educate you on the tools that you need and help you build a beginner kit.
While everyone wants the best pdr tools, it’s not always a good idea at the start.
A lot of the professional tools are for specialty dents and cost a lot of money.
There’s no point spending all that money, when you don’t know if PDR is for you.
Table of Contents
3 Must Have PDR Tools For Beginners
The most obvious PDR tools are rods, glue pullers, and so on. But there are some other basics that you need first.
These 3 “tools” are going to help you find dents, and fix them while saving you both time and money.
They’re fundamental in learning paintless dent removal. I’d recommend buying cheap initially and upgrading as you go.
Best PDR Tools For Beginners
Glue Pulling is the first thing everyone thinks of regarding PDR.
How many clips on TikTok have you seen of a little puller miraculously popping out dents?
We tend to use glue pulls on smaller dents such as light hail damage.
But, there are much bigger and heavier kits coming to market that can pull out proper collision damage. To start glue pulling you’re going to need 4 things.
Hot Glue Gun & PDR Glue – 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. This will pull the tab that’s glued to the car and bring the metal with it, hopefully fixing the dent.
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 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.
PDR is a slow and gentle process. Going in heavy-handed and applying too much pressure straight away will result in high spots and stretched metal.
You can also get a glue-pulling bridge that works in a very similar fashion.
Bridges range in size and will allow you to pull deeper creases and bigger dents with one big pull.
Finally, the other option is a sliding hammer.
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.
When pulling out a dent with a slide hammer the surrounding area can will move with your dent.
While the dent itself will come out, you may find that you’re creating a much bigger high/repair area. To fix this, you’ll need a tap down kit.
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% ratios.
I found that the 70% was ineffective and would recommend getting a product that’s 90% or more.
Applying a couple of drops of solution to the glue will let you remove the pdr 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.
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 to clean the surface.
Just like glue-pulling tools, there are many different PDR rods available.
Each rod is created with a different use in mind. Each rod is crafted with different lengths, angles, and tips.
Certain rods will be better for hard-to-access areas, sharper dents, and so on.
The basic idea is that they’ll be pushing a dent out from behind.
As a beginner, you will want to have a variety of different rods. Investing in a kit full of PDR Rods (LIKE THIS ONE) would be a good idea.
As a bare minimum, I recommend getting a shorter one for upper door sections. A medium-length bar that’ll be used mostly on the midsection 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 get better and actually enjoy PDR, then you could start experimenting with rods.
The last thing you want to do is spend hundreds on a specialist rod that you may not even use.
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.
This is a good option for those that are on a very limited budget.
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.
Ideally, the tip would be 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.
The difference in tips 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.
I personally recommend (THIS ONE)
“O” Ring & Heavy Duty S hooks
To perform a successful repair using rods, you’ll need good leverage.
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.
Using these hooks we can create leverage 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 had known about these when I first started.
I must’ve wasted countless hours trying to repair hoods without them. It was 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 allow you to know these highs back down.
Don’t rely on these as a get-out-of-jail-free card though. Instead, use them as a finishing tool.
Always try your best to remove dents without the need to tap down any 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.
There’s a good chance you’ll misplace these at some point in your life, meaning it’s best to buy cheap. You may also want to buy multiple, so you always have spare in emergencies.
Best PDR Starter Kits
There is plenty of DIY PDR kits available to buy but which one is best for you?
Below is a list of the best PDR kits for beginners. (In my opinion)
I’ve included a kit for all price points.
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.
While you don’t need to buy a kit. This is an easy solution to be able to fix dents by yourself at home.
Buying tools individually will take a lot more time and will most likely cost you more.
If you’re interested in taking PDR further, I recommend using the kits above to get started.
Once you are certain that PDR is for you, I’d then begin to invest in higher-quality tools.
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 in your kit already.
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 straightforward 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 need to remove a dent as a beginner.
When buying a kit you’re supplied with a dent-pulling device, glue tabs, glue sticks, and maybe even 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.
Unfortunately, they are also the least consistent at providing results.
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 or nylon and can come with various different plastic heads.
Just like rod tips, each tap-down tip will allow you to finish a dent differently.
Sharper tips will allow you to knock down the highs with more precision. Whereas rounded tips will planish the whole area. You’ll often find tap downs and hammers in many of the PDR 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 become a pro you will have to learn how to use PDR rods.
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 as a beginner.
Having a kit like this and doing it yourself 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, and 8 glue sticks. As well as numerous glue tabs, and a PDR Line board which helps you perfect those hellish highs and lows.
Gliston has also been pre-emptive and included a full instruction manual.
This will help you understand the tools and equipment in the kit. Allowing you to repair dents quickly and easily.
Gliston is so confident in their product quality that they offer a 2-year warranty.
If you find a way to break the tools in the first 2 years you own them, they’re happy to replace them or send you a refund!
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.
This is one of the best pdr tools for beginners that actually want to learn the trade, rather than DIY some dents.
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.