Accessing all areas of a vehicle can prove to be quite the challenge, no matter what your experience level is in Paintless Dent Removal. Vehicles are constantly changing–structurally as well as body styling–so even the most experienced techs will be scratching their heads from time to time. I’ve prepared a list of good access points that are somewhat consistent with ‘most’ vehicles.
Hood: Most hoods have an insulator which is held in with various types of push-in type retainer clips–remove this first while hood is still attached to the vehicle. If windshield washer nozzles are present, detach hose lines from hood and let lay across engine compartment.
To comfortably/accurately access all areas of a hood panel, it must be removed from the vehicle and secured on a stand–usually 12-14mm bolts attached to brackets at back corners of hood.
Bug shield and/or grill may also need to be removed as well.
Rubber hole plugs can often be removed to gain access to outer edges of hood.
Fenders: Fenders can be accessed in several different ways, the first opening I look for is under the hood. Sometimes a large gap will be present between the inner edge of the fender and wherever it attaches to sub-frame.
If this doesn’t work, I then simply peel back the wheel-liner with a small hook tool–sometimes you will be required to remove screws/push-in retainers before doing this.
If damage is excessive (more than say 20 dents) the headlight should be removed–3 or 4 10mm bolts, sometimes hidden, ALSO some newer model cars require you to remove the bumper cover to gain access to these bolts.
Access to the back of the fenders can sometimes be found through the opening between the back edge of fender and front edge of front door by opening the door 3/4 of the way and working with your light in front of the car.
Roof/Roof Rails: Light damage to the roof and the roof rails can be repaired using glue pulling–without removing interior trim panels. This type of repair, however, is very limited to ‘soft’ dime/nickel size dents, generously spaced.
Otherwise, the headliner will need to be removed–A, B, and C pillar trim, sun visors, overhead console, dome lighting, safety handles, seat belts, coat hooks, dvd players, etc.
This will sometimes allow tool access to the roof rails as well, but it is extremely limited.
In some cases, the sunroof assembly will need to be loosened and dropped down as well to gain access to the areas around it.
*Vehicles with a sunroof will also allow limited access to the center and rear parts of the roof by simply opening the sunroof and using your window shield and wedge to pry off the glass.
Trucks will sometimes allow you to access the back edge of the roof through the 3rd brake light–usually held in by 2 screws from the outside.
Some sail panels and rails on 4-door sedans/small SUVs can be accessed by removing the taillight and using a long shaved tool through the taillight opening.
Front Doors: Most damage 2-3 inches away from any edge of a door can be repaired through the window opening using your window shield and wedge.
A whale-tail is necessary to access parts of the door-skin behind structural side-impact bracing–usually glued/welded horizontally and located right down the center of the door.
Door panels may also need to be removed to gain access to edges and heavily braced areas of the panel.
Sometimes-depending on how it is attached-removing a belt molding can be an easy way of accessing the top edge of the door, but be careful, some belt moldings will break very easily when they are being removed.
Rear Doors: Rear doors can be accessed in all of the same ways as the front doors.
ALSO, opening the front door and loosening the rubber gasket around the wiring harness is a great way to access middle and lower areas of the panel.
Quarter Panels: Most of the time, removing the taillight will give you all the access you need to repair a quarter panel.
If that does not work, pulling out the interior trim might be necessary. Cars usually have push in retainers holding carpeting in place, SUVs usually have upper and lower plastic trim panels held in by screws.
This is almost always necessary when repairing damage towards the front of a quarter panel on a 2-door vehicle.
As a last resort, pulling the rear wheel off and removing the wheel-liner will allow you to drill a hole underneath and gain access that way. Permission must be obtained from the customer to drill any holes.
All holes made for access must be filled with auto-body sealant and preferably plugged to warranty full corrosion protection.
Bedsides: Pickup bedsides can usually be accessed through the taillight.
Removing the bed cap covers on some models of pickups will provide large slotted openings all down the top of the bed.
Sometimes a hole behind the wheel-liner in the wheel opening is necessary in extreme cases.
Deck lids: First, remove the insulator/trim covering the bottom of the deck lid. Deck lids almost always need to be removed to be repaired due to the way the metal curves, if this is the case,
Next, wiring harnesses/actuators/squirter nozzle hosing must be disconnected.
The deck lid itself is usually mounted to spring loaded brackets by four 8-10mm bolts.
Lift Gates: Most of the time lift-gates can be repaired while on the vehicle by simply removing the molded plastic trim panel attached to the inner side of the panel.
Sometimes rubber wiring harness gaskets and 3rd brake lights will also provide you with some access.