The Necessity of Drilling Holes in Cars for Paintless Dent Repair: A Case-by-Case Analysis | Think, Grow, Educate PDR
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The Necessity of Drilling Holes in Cars for Paintless Dent Repair: A Case-by-Case Analysis

Paul Whitehorn, Mdiv.
PhD Canidate, Liberty University


Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) is a popular technique used to fix dents and dings in vehicles without compromising their original paint finish. However, the debate surrounding drilling holes in cars for PDR continues to divide opinions. In this article, we will discuss the factors to consider when deciding to drill holes in a vehicle from a PDR perspective, emphasizing the importance of a case-by-case analysis to determine the best approach for both the customer and the vehicle.

No Holes

Some technicians in the paintless dent repair industry lack the skill to fix dents without drilling holes, and they view it as their only solution. This has led to frustration and anger toward the concept of drilling holes in vehicles. Instead of acknowledging that there may be situations where drilling holes is appropriate, some take an extreme stance, claiming that drilling should never occur. This extremism stems from a desire for excellence and a commitment to providing customers with the best possible service. Both extreme positions are flawed, even though the lesser of the two evils leans towards those who refuse to drill. We must avoid seeing drilling in paintless dent repair as a black-and-white issue, recognizing that there may be valid reasons for both approaches in different situations. However, the problem on both sides is based in financial reward.

Both the technician who drills and the one who refuses to drill share the same underlying motivation: financial gain. The experienced technician profits by highlighting their ability to avoid drilling, positioning themselves as superior to less skilled technicians who resort to drilling holes. On the other hand, the less experienced technician profits from quickly and cheaply fixing dents by drilling. The issue on both sides is rooted in financial reward, rather than focusing on teaching younger technicians alternative methods or considering when drilling might be the better choice in certain cases.

Factory Holes and Structural Integrity

It's important to remember that most vehicles already have factory holes in various locations. A single hole, less than half an inch in diameter, is unlikely to impact the strength and durability of the panel. As long as the drilled hole does not affect the vehicle's safety, can be placed in a discreet location to maintain the vehicle's value, and can prevent more invasive procedures that could decrease its value, drilling a hole for PDR can be a viable option.

The Case for Drilling Holes

To better illustrate when drilling a hole might be the best choice for PDR, let's consider a hypothetical scenario. Imagine the cost of removing a door, taking apart everything inside it, and then reassembling it on a brand-new vehicle. Even though technicians are experts at removing doors and disassembling components, the reality is that removing and reinstalling parts can cause micro-damage to clips and moldings. Consequently, the customer will face an increased price to prevent a hole from being drilled but will still receive some damage through the removal and reinstallation process.

In this example, the customer has three options to repair a dent:

1. Drilling a hole, using a factory plug, and cavity wax for $100, without hurting the vehicle's value.

2. Glue pulling the dent, which costs $150.

3. Door removal and disassembly, priced at $350.

The technician has a responsibility to present these options to the customer, allowing them to choose based on their priorities and budget. If glue pulling fails, the customer may opt for drilling a hole for $100 or proceed with door removal at $350. In another scenario, the customer may choose to drill a hole right away. The technician can suggest pulling glue first and drilling if the initial attempt fails. Ultimately, the decision depends on each unique situation and the customer's preferences.

In some situations, like this scenario, the owner of the vehicle may decide that drilling a small hole may be the most practical solution for effective PDR. Regardless, I believe that option should only be considered after exhausting all other possibilities and should be seen as a lesser evil than more invasive procedures, such as cutting out a panel, welding it back in, applying Bondo, and repainting adjacent panels.

Critics who refuse to drill holes in any circumstance may be short-sighted, as they could be neglecting what is ultimately best for the customer and the vehicle. By choosing not to drill a small hole, they may inadvertently impose a greater harm on the vehicle and its overall value.

Consultation and Customer Decision

It is essential for technicians to consult with the vehicle's owner before drilling any holes. The technician should present all available options and discuss the pros and cons of each. In some cases, drilling a hole might be the only option before resorting to repainting. In such instances, the technician may need to remove and reinstall parts to hide the hole as effectively as possible. This could involve removing an entire door or a back tire to create an access point underneath a wheel well instead of the door jamb.

Those who argue against drilling holes in paintless dent repair often believe that they're protecting the integrity of the vehicle. However, in some cases, avoiding drilling may lead to expensive and time-consuming alternatives that can harm the vehicle's value. Consider a scenario where a small, hidden hole could effectively remove a dent for $100.

If drilling is avoided, the alternative may involve painting multiple panels due to the dent's location, rare color or pearl stages, and appearance. This could cost the customer thousands of dollars and result in damage reports on Carfax, increased insurance premiums, and a negative impact on the vehicle's value. In such cases, a strategically placed hole can offer a quick, cost-effective solution that minimizes damage to the vehicle's value.


While no technician enjoys drilling holes in vehicles, there are instances where it is the best option for both the customer and the vehicle. Each case must be evaluated individually, considering the unique circumstances and challenges. By taking a case-by-case approach and prioritizing open communication with the customer, technicians can ensure the most effective and least invasive solution for paintless dent repair, ultimately preserving the vehicle's value and integrity.

Written By Paul Whitehorn
PhD Canidate, Liberty University
The Necessity of Drilling