This Volkswagen Passat came to us for a dent repair because of a small dent on the driver’s side pillar as shown. The owner had just bought the car and hadn’t noticed the damage until he got it home. He was concerned that a smart repair would leave a visible repair line on the bodywork as he’d had a second (and third!) opinion on whether it could be repaired without a full panel respray.
Whenever we carry out a true smart repair the most difficult stage is often the final step – the application and blending of the lacquer. However, with the right tools, chemicals and experience, an almost perfect repair can be achieved.
The first step is to rough mask the area before sanding the dent area. Rough mask is necessary in order to protect the areas around the damage that we don’t want to accidentally catch with the sandpaper. Many an expensive mistake has been made if this simple precaution is not taken.
Using a rubber block that is larger than the dent (not difficult in this case) we rub over the dent with 1000 grit sandpaper. It is not necessary to use anything harsher at this stage. We are using these scuff marks to create a ‘picture’ we can read and decide the course of the repair. This time the picture shows no high spots and clearly outlines the dent. Using the 1000 grit sandpaper we scuff within the dent to provide a key for the filler.
The aim of a smart repair is to keep the repair area as small and localised as possible. This is how we keep the costs down and manage to repair the damage so quickly. With that in mind the area is masked very close for the application of the filler.
We used a Dolphin glaze filler for this repair as the dent was so slight. If we had used the usual bodyfiller on this repair, there was a risk that there was so little to fill that refinishing the filler would have doubled the time taken. The Dolphin filler has a higher liquid content and is perfect for shallow dents like this.
The filler went on correctly and covered the dent smoothly on the first application. It is then warmed with a heat gun to speed along the drying and curing time. It is essential that there is no moisture left when the paint is applied.
The application of the primer leaves edges and steps at the edge of the repair and this is sanded away using a block and 1000 grit sandpaper once again. The result is a very small amount of filler left. The repair area is now completely smooth and ready for the primer.
Rough masking is applied again but this time smart masking is used to protect the surrrounding areas from overspray. The primer is applied in three or four light coats, building it up slowly. The number of coats required depends on the type of primer used and in this case three or four was appropriate.
Each coat of primer is thoroughly dried with a heat gun before the next is applied. The end result is a smooth finish that completely covers the filler. Again, there are hard edges that need to be removed with 1000 wet and dry sandpaper or else they will be visible at the end.
With the hard edges removed, the car is masked up for paint. In this case we were aiming to only paint the repair area but to lacquer all the way to the bottom edges of the panel and to blend the lacquer in at the top of the pillar. It is important to cover all the areas of the car that might be susceptible to overspray and to tape down all loose edges of the paper.
The paint is mixed to the manufacturer’s specification and then applied. The first coat is a semi-wet coat – too little paint can be fixed easily, too much paint is a little harder so better safe than sorry. The paint is then completely dried with a hot air gun before the second coat.
The second coat is dried with the hot air gun. There is still a slight difference in the paint texture between the repair and the old paintwork but the final coat will cover this. The arrows on the masking paper are there to remind us where the paint is applied because it is difficult to tell once the paint is fully blended and it it essential to ensure that the lacquer covers all painted areas.
The whole area is lacquered, covering the whole panel and most way up the pillar. The first coat is applied dryer than the second and final coat. It is left to tack off for three minutes and then the final coat is applied, heavy and wet, to bring the deep shine back to the paintwork. The final stage is to spray the specially formulated blending fluid to the edge of the lacquer to ensure a smooth transition.