After a severe spring storm, everyone’s worst nightmare is finding out that their car has been damaged by hail. Not only are hail-damaged cars unsightly, but body repair can be expensive, depending on the condition.
In this guide, we cover the meaning of hail-damaged cars. We also discuss the varieties of damage, the cost to repair them, and why you might want to purchase one.
What are cars damaged by hail?
Hail is a form of precipitation that falls from the sky and consists of small pieces of ice and compacted snow. These ice balls are capable of making small or large dents in the car and breaking the windshield. However, the severity of the damage depends on the type of car and the size of the hail.
If hailstones are less than an inch in diameter, they generally will not travel faster than 25 mph, while hailstones of one to two inches can reach 40 mph. In severe cases of much larger hail, blocks of ice can travel at speeds in excess of 160 km/h.
Even small pieces of hail can cause significant damage, but most problems come from larger blocks. Golf ball-sized hail will dent the sheet metal of your car, while baseball hail can crack your windshield. If the windows are broken, there may also be water damage inside the car. Once hail grows large enough to reach the size of a baseball, it can be fast enough to smash through the roof of your car.
However, even a small hailstone, the size of a penny or quarter, can damage your vehicle. If there are a lot of dents, you could still have a hefty car repair bill.
Types of cars damaged by hail
1. Cosmetic damage/paint intact
This is the mildest form of hail damage your car can sustain. It has small dings on the outside, but the paint is not scratched. For this reason, paintless dent removal (PDR) is an option for auto body repair.
With paintless dent removal, dents are removed without any paintwork. The technician must be specially trained in this technique to ensure that each bump is gently pushed back and massaged into place. PDR can be made with a variety of bump sizes and is the most economical solution possible.
2. Cosmetic damage or scratched paint
Even the smallest pieces of hail can cause this major damage. Although they are still smaller, the paint on the exterior was scratched in the process. When this happens, there is no way to perform a paintless dent repair to fix the problem.
Instead, the body panel will likely need to be replaced at the body shop. While dents can be repaired, a paint job will still be required. This form of body repair is conventional and was the only way to do things before PDR. However, the bill can be very high with this route. Not only will a new body panel be installed, but the paint must match the color the car currently has, which can be tricky with certain shades.
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3. Serious damage/paint intact
Hail can cause more than just cosmetic problems. In severe cases, mechanical damage may also occur. The strangest thing is when there is mechanical damage to the car, but the paint has not been damaged.
As for the exterior of the car, PDR should be possible, which would help reduce costs. On the other hand, depending on the mechanical damage that has occurred, the bill could add up quickly.
4. Severe damage or pain from scratches
If there’s one thing you want to avoid, it’s this problem. As for the last description, this damage will lead to mechanical repairs of some kind.
However, the dent will also have to be removed and a new paint job will be required due to the exterior body damage. These are the times when it is very easy for the insurance company to total your car due to the cost of repairs.
Why consider purchasing a hail-damaged vehicle
There are many hail-damaged vehicles that have been considered salvaged cars due to hail damage, even though they are still mechanically intact and in good condition. When it comes to insurance companies, the only concern is whether the cost to repair the vehicle is greater than its value. If so, your car will receive a salvage title and will be written off as a total loss.
However, many people realize that these cars can still be sold. If you can repair the damage and restore the title to its original condition, you can make a good amount of money from it. There is also the possibility of selling the vehicle as is because some people don’t mind bumps and potholes. The only problem with this is that the new owner will not be able to obtain insurance for the vehicle until it is repaired.
RELATED: Car Dent Removal and Repair Cost
Cost to repair a vehicle damaged by hail
Hail-damaged vehicles sell for much less than a typical car. If you can find a vehicle with minor hail damage, you may be able to get a good deal. Some dealerships offer significant savings on inventory after a hail storm.
If there is only a small dent or two, it may not be worth fixing if you don’t care how it looks. However, for the price, you might consider restoring it to its original beauty. On average, this is what you can expect to spend on hail damage.
- Small dents: $30 to $65 per repair
- Medium dents: $40 to $75 per repair
- Large dents: $75 to $100 or more per repair
With that in mind, if your car only has five small dents, you can easily get it repaired for $150 to $325. With a bill this small, it’s not wise to get the insurance company involved, especially if your deductible is greater than the cost of the repair.
How to avoid hail damage to your vehicle
1. Watch the weather
The easiest way to protect your vehicle is to watch the weather forecast. After all, you can’t act if you don’t know what’s coming.
You can download a free weather app for your phone and receive alerts when extreme weather conditions are imminent. Once you know the time is approaching, you can continue with the rest of your plan.
2. Park indoors
The best place for a car during a storm is a garage. However, not everyone has a garage, but there are still ways to cover the vehicle.
A carport can also provide some protection, although strong winds can blow hail toward your car. A thick car cover can also provide a layer of protection. If you don’t have these options, consider covering the vehicle with a thick blanket or comforter. If you have no other option, at least use the car floor mats on the windshield to prevent glass shattering and interior flooding.
READ MORE: 10 Best Car Covers for Hail, Snow, and Ice Protection of 2022
3. Seek shelter while driving
If you’re driving during hail, you want to park, but it’s important to think about where you’ll stop. A parking garage or covered gas station will provide plenty of shelter.
You don’t want to park under an overpass or bridge. It is difficult to see cars parked here and could cause a traffic accident. If all else fails, park in a safe place on the road until visibility is restored. You want to turn on your hazard lights and try to park your windshield in the same direction that the hail is falling.
READ MORE: 15 Most Common Causes of Car Accidents