Testing by Luke Munnell and Scott Tsuneishi
Of all the celebrity deaths of 2009, Billy Mays' hit us the hardest. He may not have pioneered the moonwalk (Jacko), the electric guitar (Les Paul), or ways for a man to dance dirty with a woman without looking like he's wishing she was a man (Crazy Swayze), but he did make an honest buck from hustling. Semi-honest? OK, we'll give you that. Say what you will about the Jupiter Jack and Big City Slider Station never catching on, but OxiClean and the Tool Band-It will always have a place in our garage.
This month we test one fly-by-late-night-infomercial product Billy is most known for: the Ding King. Billed as "The Secret Tool Body Shops Use", once Billy and the Ding King hit the screen, the home body repair scene would never be the same.
The Claim: DIY Dent Removal Tools Really Work.
Tired of his '95 Civic DX refracting light like a scruffy black disco ball in bright sun, and too, um . . . "frugal" to pony up for proper bodywork and paint, when Senior Editor Scott Tsuneishi spotted the Ding King on the shelves of the local auto parts store, he snatched it up and prepared to wage war on bent metal.
The process of dent pulling with the Ding King is supposedly simple: find a dent, clean it with the included mystery solvent (comprised entirely of water, rubbing alcohol, and coloring), affix the "puller" to the dent with the supplied hot glue, slip the Ding King over the threads of the puller, and tighten with the supplied thumb screw until the dent is pulled out. Here's our first attempt:
Tightened no more than one full turn, the puller broke free from the hot glue-having absolutely no effect on our dent. We scraped the dried hot glue off the dent (it stuck great to painted metal) with the supplied squeegee and tried again. We switched to the smaller of two included pullers, and let a bit of hot glue flow over its outer surface during our second attempt, reasoning that once hard, it would help anchor the puller and allow us to pull out our dent.
When that didn't work, we completely engulfed the puller with excess hot glue and tried again:
When that didn't work, we switched to a different tool altogether: the DentOut, a tool similar to the Ding King, but one that includes an even smaller puller for the removal of smaller dents like ours. We repeated the set-up process and prepared to try once more:
Before we could even tighten the thumbscrew, the new puller released from the cured hot glue and fell to the ground, and we still had our dent, now surrounded by scratch marks from the repeated removal of the hot glue necessary for the process.
The Verdict: FICTION
Even if the bond between the Ding King's puller and the subject car's surface was strong enough to endure the pulling process, we can't see how it would work perfectly. Metal stretches when it's bent, and in the case of dings and dents-most of the time occurring on curved portions of metal-bringing body panels perfectly back to their original shape is impossible. With the proper tools, technique, and access to the underside of dents, paintless dent removal can have acceptable results. "Acceptable" being the operative word.