Posts tagged: car

Door Dings Be Gone!

By , August 18, 2014 10:45 pm

Are you as annoyed by little door dings as I am? Every time I get in my car, I get to see these 3 annoying dings from some inconsiderate person in a parking lot (or our other car which sits next to mine in the garage). I recently came across PDR or Paintless Dent Repair.  For smaller dents and dings, you can use a glue puller. It was fascinating and I decided to give it a go. I got some of the tools of the trade from Amazon and eBay and decided to try it out.

So what are these things? The shiny aluminum thing is the actual puller. You use the glue gun to hot glue (black sticks) the yellow tabs to the dent and then the puller to yank the dent up. The glue will break free from the body or the tab, but not before it pulls the metal up a bit. Clean with alcohol (blue bottle) and then repeat until you are happy. Sounds simple enough. The soft faced hammer and white plastic thingy is for knocking down high spots.

Here are some of the tools you will need.

Here are some of the tools you will need.

So, another indispensable tool is called a dent board.

Back of the dent board. See the suction cup and bendy arm?

Back of the dent board. See the suction cup and bendy arm?


Using the board, you can cast a reflection of symmetrical lines onto the body and see exactly where the dents are. The board uses a suction cup to secure to the body and then you can bend it anyway you want with the special stem.

This particular one is translucent so that light from behind can shine through and help to increase the reflection on the other side. Now the other side is where all of the action takes place.

I got this one off of eBay from a company called PDR Tools. They are in Wisconsin and make all varieties of these boards.


Here’s the view from the other side, positioned so you can see 2 of the 3 dings I’m messing with today. You see where the straight lines get all messed up in the center? That’s where the dents are. When you see circular or fat lines, that’s where the metal is pushed in (dented). If you see peaked or thinner lines that appear pinched, that’s where it’s high. In this picture there are no highs really, just dings.  The top one is a more complex dent. The impact has spread out to the edges where the adjacent lines contort. The tiny one below it is a teeny ding.

The dents are clear as day using a line board.

The dents are clear as day using a line board.

OK, now what? Well, you heat up the glue and stick them to the center of the ding along with a yellow pull tab. In the picture below I’ve put two tabs on the dings. The smaller ding in the picture above doesn’t have a tab yet. It gets in the way of the larger ding. They’ll have to be done separately.

Two tabs on the dings. Ready to pull.

Two tabs on the dings. Ready to pull.

You have to wait a few moments for the glue to cool and set. I found that it generally happens pretty fast. Surprisingly, the glue doesn’t pull off the paint. I hear that this should only be attempted for factory paint. It is possible it’ll pull off paint if the paint doesn’t have strong adhesion to the surface. A repaint tends to be weaker than factory paint.

If there’s glue residue left after the pull, you just use the spray bottle of alcohol to remove it. Easy.



Time to pull it out!

Time to pull it out!


You get great leverage with the puller. Pulling gently will flex the metal. Pulling hard may stretch it and pull it out too far. You can always knock it down, but that’s tricker than it sounds.

So the best bet is to experiment. Softly pull at first and if it doesn’t work, pull harder! If the tab comes off, you just glue it up again and do another pull.

Now I should mention that between pulls (or even before) you can soften up the dent and take out some of the stress around the edges using the soft faced hammer and white plastic thingy. I forget what it’s called. (Knock down tool?).

I think it’ll be a lot of trial and error before I get it completely right.

I’m not looking for perfection (yet), but trying to make the dings less noticeable.

So in the end, I think it works pretty darn well! Here is a shot of the panel after the 3 dings are pulled out. Come to think of it, I should of left the board on so that you can see better. The dents are not completely invisible, but you have to look hard and move about to see where they used to be. Overall, I am very pleased.

The finished repair. There were 3 dings in this panel.

The finished repair. There were 3 dings in this panel.

So this took me all of 35 minutes to pull out 3 dings. I’ve got lots of dings on our family’s other cars. I’m going to get lots of practice over the next few weeks. I should be a pro by then! LOL!

Post a comment below if you have any questions. I think this is a pretty great way to keep our car looking good.

Multi-function Dock and FM transmitter that doesn’t suck!

By , February 23, 2012 10:53 pm

I’ve been trying to find a way to get my iPhone, iPod, Nano, etc. to play in my cars without having to replace or hardwire some new deck into the car permanently. I’ve also tried all kinds of things like tape deck adapters and FM transmitters. They all mostly suck big-time. Recently I wanted to add handsfree capability to our family SUV (Volvo XC90) and discovered that it used a fiber optic based system that was ridiculously expensive to upgrade. So I went looking for another solution.

This is ridiculously cheap, but it works!

On Amazon I started reading all kins of reviews of units that basically had lukewarm to bad reviews. In this search I started thinking I could use another charger for the car that would double as a mount. You know how those web searches can become a big black hole.

Then I came across this All in One unit for the ridiculously low price of $12.69! No this is not a typo. For the price of a cable I could have a mount, charger, fm-transmitter, and a remote. It was ludicrous. Since I have Amazon Prime and the shipping was free, I figured, “what the heck”?

I also perused the reviews and there were a surprising number of good ones considering this cost less than I spent on lunch today.

So in 2 days time, good old Amazon Prime came through again and I had my unit in my hand. I snapped a picture to share with you and then started to fiddle with it. Besides the fact that this thing has more appendages than a baby in a bilirubin chamber (ok, total non-sequiter) it seemed pretty well made. The mounting was secure, all the parts fits and the cigarette lighter adapter even had some rubber protrusions to makes sure it fit tightly.

The “remote” was amusing. They tried to make it look like a ipod! I really didn’t expect it to work so well, but hey, in the next weeks the truth will come out.

My phone in the cradle with the remote to the right.
















OK, so how has it been in the past few weeks? Well, it’s a mixed bag. There are some goofy things, but also a surprising number of good things to report.  So let’s get to the deets.


  • The FM transmitter actually works! I get a light static, but other than that the music is clear and the GPS voice directions are fine! I am amazed. It’s so much better than the half a dozen other FM transmitters I have tried.
  • I can use it as a speakerphone for handsfree! This solves a world of problems for me. This is much better than a bluetooth headset or my Jabra clipped to the visor.
  • It charges the phone, but a little slowly. Actually, if I am running the GPS, it charges it TOO slowly. Sometimes the battery level goes down after a trip with the charger plugged in.
  • The crazy little remote actually works! It’s IR so you have to point it at the top of the unit, but it does work.
  • The stalk is bendable and stay put.
  • The phone mount is very solid and holds the phone securely.
  • There’s an additional USB port on the side to charge another device.


  • The GPS seems to get confused and loses the signal at times. This may have to do with the fact that my mount is on the center console so the phone doesn’t have a clear view of the sky. It is annoying as I lose the signal a lot more than when I had it mounted higher up on the dash with the vent mount.
  • Although the lighter adapter is tight, The weight of the unit caused the entire lighter assembly to wiggle around.
  • The FM frequency is on top of the unit, covered by the iPhone. It’s a pain to see the station if you need to change it in route.
  • The charger is weak.
  • For some reason my iPod touch will not transmit via FM if I plug in the main charger. I can use the USB port charger on the side without issue.
  • It a bit janky with all the cables coming out of it.


The bottom line is that for $12.69, this is a total steal. Consider that Apple charges $19.95 for the cable alone and it’s no comparison. In Summary, this is worth a try for the price. It ain’t pretty, but it’s functional.

Automotive Leather Repairing

By , August 7, 2010 10:31 pm

I keep my cars for a long time. All the cars I own have leather interiors. After a decade of wear and tear, the leather finish sometimes crack and wears off. Replacing a leather interior for an old car is prohibitively expensive, usually running in the several thousands of dollars. Sometimes the car isn’t even worth that much! So what’s a guy to do?

I’ve read about various leather treatments and have tried most of them. There’s no saving dry, hard, cracked leather if you ask me. However, if your leather is still pliable, but there are cracks in the surface finish, there is hope. I came across a company called Leather Magic on the web. After reading lots about them and also viewing their YouTube video, I thought I would give it a try. This is my experience in pictures.

I ordered the deluxe kit for $59.95 with a few dollars shipping. I think it came to about $71. The color of my car interior was “Light Beige” so I ordered the color with the same name on their color page for Volvos. So far so good.

So I decided to try this on my front passenger seat first. Since it needs to sit for 48 hours after the repair, I figured I could still drive the car if I needed to. Here’s what I had to deal with.

The outside bottom panel has a lot of cracks in it.

So the first order of business was to clean it well. I used a light detergent (same as I use when I wash my car) and a nylon scrub brush. I must say that I was surprised how much dirt was removed by this simple process.

First order of business is a good scrubbing.

A light sanding with the provided 220 paper after the prep solution was applied.

This magic white stuff was quiet tacky. Multiple layers filled the cracks.

The photo above shows, the repair compound being scraped into the cracks. Between each coat I had to sand it lightly and get rid of the dust. After about 4 passes (it took a long time), the surface felt pretty smooth. OK, it’s time to color it.

The colorant (special paint) seemed a pretty good match.

After two coats with the foam brush, not much was covered...

After 3 coats, it was starting to look a lot better.

Five coats later and I think I am done.

It was getting dark as I had worked at this for about 3 hours now. I took the last picture with a flash and noticed that the color of the new area and the old area was not really matching so well. It looks like I’ll have to re-color the whole seat for a perfect match. However, look at the repair area! It looks like it’s new leather!

I showed this to my family when then came home, and they thought I had replaced the leather! So at the end of the day, here’ s my analysis.

  • It works pretty darn well.
  • It takes a long time…. 3 hours for the part I did.
  • The color match was pretty good, but in certain light, you can see a difference. Plan on coloring the whole seat.

So that’s it. I can say that I am pretty pleased with it. We’ll see how it holds up over time. I am supposed to wait 48 hours and then go over it with a leather conditioner. I’ll report back later and let you know.

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