Like many of the projects required to keep a vehicle running properly and looking great, most auto body repair can not be handled by the vehicle's owner while working in their garage. Unfortunately, this type of repair requires a certain attention to detail that can be difficult for the backyard mechanic to manage. For instance, repairing the rust that builds up along the bottom of car doors or under the edges of a vinyl top requires a patient mind, a steady hand and a keen eye to ensure the repair is smooth and wrinkle free. Plus, applying paint to finish the repair is one portion of the project that is best performed in an auto body shop.
Some vehicle repairs require the use of auto body parts to replace those that are horribly damaged or considered impossible to fix. This can include pieces of the front clip such as the fenders, bumper or grill or other items like hoods and car doors. Because these pieces are easy to remove and install, they are often replaced instead of repaired to keep the overall cost more manageable. Other auto body components are not so easy to fix. This includes the rear quarter panels and main body. If these areas are badly damaged, the vehicle is generally considered totaled because the cost of repair is more than the actual value of the vehicle.
Of course, many types of body shop repairs aren't performed on severely damaged cars or trucks. In fact, a lot of body shops have begun to specialize in a repair method known as paintless dent repair (PDR). PDR uses a range of techniques for the removal of simple dents in the vehicle's body but is ineffective on major damage. The major criteria for successful application of PDR is the paint must not be chipped, scratched or broken. In simple cases, the dent may be popped out with a minor tap of a hammer or the application of body picks to the back side of the dent. For dents where the back side cannot be reached, the technician can use a special glue and unique tools to pull out the dented area. Sadly, this type of repair may not work well on older cars because it requires a paint that is flexible enough to handle being stretched when damaged or repaired. Most modern automotive paint fits this category.