Are you and your estimators using the right marking pens for PDR? Or are you losing money because you’re using the wrong pens? PDR technicians only earn money from fixing dents. This means that every unnecessary minute spent doing anything else is a waste of time. And wasted time is wasted money.
Here are a couple of simple tips that have saved me lots of hours and frustration each year.
1. Wet Erase Markers
The Problem: Lots of wet erase markers are in use in the autobody industry and most of them cost PDR companies lots of wasted time and money. Not only do they require lots of rubbing with soapy water to remove, but they gunk up your microfiber towels with the pigment. Further, they don’t remove easily with your standard glue pulling alcohol, so you have to get an extra spray bottle for soapy water. And as if that were not enough, these marks bake on in the sun and you can scratch or mar the clear coat when washing them from the car.
The Solution: If you must use wet erase markers (particularly for dark-colored vehicles), then get the Brightsticks by Expo. They come in fluorescent colors just like the other paint markers, but they don’t paint as thick a line (making less paint to clean up) and they dissolve instantly in your alcohol spray. These can be found at many office supply stores or online.
I have bought these for body shops and insurance adjusters so that I don’t have to spend needless hours removing their traditional paint pen mess from the cars I’m fixing.
2. Dry Erase Markers
When I’m marking a car that won’t go out in the rain, I prefer to use dry erase markers. If the car color is very dark, these markers are hard to see, so the Brightsticks are necessary. But on medium- and light-colored cars, dry erase markers have some advantages. For one, they can be wiped off with a microfiber towel, or even with your hands, without need for any solvent (water or alcohol).
I also use them as I’m working a panel and checking for remnants of the dents I’m fixing. (Yes, you’re supposed to check from all angles!) When I stand up to inspect a hood, for example, I make a mark by or around every imperfection I see. And when I fix the imperfection, I simply erase the mark and go on to the next one until I’m finished.
One drawback of the dry erase marks is that they wipe off easily by accident. For example, if I have marked dents on a rail, my arms or shirt sleeves may inadvertently wipe off the mark as I work on nearby dents. Similarly, they don’t hold up well in the dew or rain. Even so, I always keep one handy in my shirt pocket!
3. Oxidized Clear Coat
Perhaps you have noticed as I have that when surfaces get that dull oxidation coat over them, they stain easily from any kind of marker. Such oxidation also makes PDR difficult as it ruins the sheen on the panel, making it difficult to “read the light”. Ideally, such panels should be buffed even before estimating, because the dents will always be bigger than they appear on an oxidized panel. If it’s not buffed beforehand, be sure you buff it after using a marking pen, though. Otherwise, you’ll be presenting a stained vehicle to the owner!