Project BMW 318is: Getting the Dents Out

Update by Tim Suddard to the BMW 318is project car
Jul 6, 2019

When we found our car, it had been sitting outside for quite a while. The years and elements had not been kind. But while the car was badly faded, it was mostly original paint, as only the left rear quarter and a bit of the taillight panel had been repainted.

To add insult to the injury that this poor car had lived through though, the roof was caved in and there were other significant dents located around the car.

So, we were torn: Do we strip it down to bare metal and fix it, or do we try and save the original paint? It’s only original once.

Jon Triz, of Prestige PDR (386) 316-2114 came to our shop and took a look. We were shocked when he told us he could make every panel nearly perfect and could do it for $1500. Again, it is only original once and a quality paint job would have set us back five times that figure.

So we watched in awe as this guy worked. Follow along in pictures, as we outline the highlights of the process he used to get our nearly 30 year old BMW back to nearly as new condition.


Here’s what we started with. Last registered some ten years ago, this 318is has presumably been sitting outside in the damp climate of Highlands, NC for that many years.

A closeup of just how nasty this thing was when we found it. We could tell you that we could see through this and know we could save the paint. The truth is, that for the $450 we paid for the car, we didn’t really care if we had to end up painting the car.

We had quite a nasty dent on the driver’s door to deal with. Shockingly, despite the complex nature and deep ding in the middle, our paint-less dent guy was able to get this door nearly perfect.

Here’s the gear we used to bring back the original paint. A rotary buffer, an orbital buffer and a variety of products to go from coarse cut to fine, as we buffed and then polished this car.

These are some of the tools of a paint-less dent professional. He has various picks that he pushes up with, a light hammer and plastic pick, he can gently push back down with.

Here Jon gently taps the roof back down, after he has pulled it up. We did have to get the window motors working, buff the car and pull the windshield for him to perform his services. And yes, that is a heat gun at the top left of the photo. Heat is just one of the tricks in Jon’s arsenal.

To pull the dent out of the roof, Jon hangs a special strap to gain leverage inside the door frame. He then carefully pries the roof back up with his special prying tool.

If you look carefully, you can see the small dent Jon is trying to push out. Notice the extreme amount of special lights needed to see small dents.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more project updates.
View comments on the GRM forums
grover GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
7/6/19 9:35 a.m.

cool.  good PDR folks amaze me. 


bludroptop UltraDork
7/6/19 7:08 p.m.

Would really love to see some DIY on paintless dent removal.  It seems to be a big secret.

Yeah, I get that it's a skill, but everyone starts somewhere, and Mrs. BDT's car looks like a golf ball after parking under a tree for 10 years.  

The PDR guys are more secretive than a CIA double agent.

Show you how you do a simple door ding?  I'd have to kill you afterwards.

grover GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
7/6/19 7:09 p.m.

There’s a bunch of good stuff on YouTube. 

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
7/8/19 12:51 p.m.

As you can see, it starts with some pretty serious tools and special lights. He was still using those lights in the bright Florida sun.

mr2s2000elise HalfDork
7/8/19 12:55 p.m.

I had a PDR guy took out a nasty dent in my FJ and wife's lexus. This was our first time using a PDR guy. I couldn't believe the after. I saw him work, he was literally like magic with his hammers, heat, etc. Car looks perfect after. Cost me $270 for both. 

Guy was interesting (old guy, in his early 60s). Says he makes a living, fixing hail repair in the midwest for insurance companies. They call him, when they have 10-12 cars, he goes out and takes his crew there and knock it out. 


Lives out west, drives midwest, works for insurance, makes big $$ staying out for 8 weeks, and comes home. 


Truly an artform.

sfisher71 New Reader
9/8/19 8:23 p.m.

I always use brake fluid for dentless paint removal.

Oh... wait...

nutherjrfan UberDork
9/8/19 8:33 p.m.

Cool thread. yes

I'll try to save it but....

Sponsored by

FCP Euro

Our Preferred Partners