hail damaged cars – everything you need to know

if you own a car that has been damaged by hail, here is everything you need to know about getting your vehicle properly diagnosed and fixed.

hail damaged car

after a strong spring storm, it’s everyone’s worse nightmare to find out that the car has been damaged by hail. not only are hail damaged cars unsightly, but the body can be expensive to repair, depending on the condition. 

in this guide, we cover the meaning of cars that are hail damaged. we also discuss the varieties of damage, the cost to repair it and the reason you might want to buy one. 

what are hail damaged cars?

hail is a form of precipitation that falls from the sky consisting of small chunks of ice and compact snow. these ice balls are capable of putting small to large dents in the car and cracking the windshield. however, the severity of the damage depends on the type of car and the size of the hail. 

if the hail stones are smaller than an inch in diameter, they won’t typically travel faster than 25 mph, while one- to two-inch hail stones can hit 40 mph. in severe cases of much larger hail stones, the blocks of ice can move at speeds of more than 100 mph. 

even small pieces of hail can do significant damage, but the majority of issues come from larger blocks. the golf-ball hail size is going to leave dents in the sheet metal of your car, while baseball hail can smash the windshield. if broken windows occur, there can also be water damage to the interior of the car. once the hail gets large enough to reach the size of a softball, it can be fast enough to go through the roof of your car.

however, even small hail measuring a dime or quarter in size can ding up the vehicle. if there are numerous dents, you could still be looking at a hefty car repair bill. 

types of hail damaged cars

1. cosmetic damage/intact paint

this is the most minor form of hail damage your car can receive. it shows small dents on the exterior, but the paint isn’t scratched. because of this, paintless dent repair (pdr) is an option for fixing the body.

with paintless dent repair, the dents are pushed back out without the need for any paint work. the technician must be specially trained in this technique to ensure each dent is carefully pushed out and massaged back into place. pdr can be performed with a variety of dent sizes and is the cheapest fix possible.

2. cosmetic damage/scratched paint

even smaller pieces of hail can lead to this larger damage. while they might still be smaller ding sizes, the paint on the exterior has gotten scratched in the process. when this happens, there’s no way to perform paintless dent repair to fix the problem. 

instead, the body panel will likely need to be replaced at the body shop. if the dents can be fixed, a paint job will still be needed. this form of body repair is conventional and was the only way things were done before pdr. however, the bill can get very high with this route. not only will a new body panel be installed, but the paint must match the color that’s currently on the car, which can get tricky with certain shades. 

related: how much does it cost to paint a car?

3. severe damage/intact paint

it’s possible for hail to cause more than just cosmetic issues. in severe cases, mechanical damage can also occur. what’s most odd is when there is mechanical damage to the car, but the paint hasn’t been ruined. 

when it comes to the exterior of the car, pdr should be possible, helping to keep the cost down. on the other hand, depending on what mechanical damage has occurred, the bill could quickly rise. 

4. severe damage/scratched pain

if there is anything you want to avoid, it’s this problem. as with the last description, this damage will lead to mechanical repairs of some sort.

however, there will also be dent removal and a new paint job required because of the exterior body damage. these are the times when it becomes very easy to have your car totaled by the insurance company because of how expensive the repairs become. 

why consider buying a hail damaged vehicle

there are plenty of hail damaged vehicles that have been deemed as a salvage car because of hail damage, even though they are still mechanically intact and drivable. when it comes to insurance companies, the only concern is if the cost to repair the vehicle is higher than its value. if it is, your car will be given a salvage title and written off as a total loss.

however, lots of people realize that these cars can still be sold. if you are able to repair the damage and restore the title back to its original state, you can make a good amount of money on it. there’s also the possibility of selling the vehicle as-is because some people don’t care about the dents and dings. the only trouble with that is that the new owner won’t be able to get insurance for the vehicle until it is repaired. 

related: car dent removal & repair cost

cost to repair hail damaged vehicle

hail damaged vehicles are sold much cheaper than your typical automobile. if you can find a vehicle with some minor hail damage, you might be able to score an amazing deal. there are some dealerships that offer dramatic savings on the inventory after a hail storm. 

if there’s only a small dent or two, it might not be worth repairing if you aren’t worried about what it looks like. however, for the cost, you might consider restoring it to its original beauty. on average, here’s what you can expect to spend on hail damage.

  • small dents: $30-$65 per repair
  • medium dents: $40-$75 per repair
  • large dents: $75-$100 or more per repair

with this in mind, if your car only has five small dents, you could easily repair the car for $150 to $325. looking at a bill this small, it’s not wise to get the insurance company involved, especially if your deductible is more than the repair will cost. 

how to avoid vehicle hail damage

1. keep an eye on the weather

the easiest way to protect your vehicle is to watch the weather forecast. after all, you can’t take action if you don’t know what’s coming.

you can download a free weather app to your phone and get alerts when severe weather is impending. once you know the weather is coming, you can follow through on the rest of your plan. 

2. park under cover

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 heavy winds can blow the hail into 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 quilt. if you have no other option, at least use the car’s floor mats over the windshield to prevent broken auto glass and interior flooding. 

read more: 10 best car covers for hail, snow & ice protection of 2022

3. seek shelter while driving

if you are driving when hail hits, you want to pull over, but it’s important to think about where you will 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’s difficult to see cars parked here and it could create a traffic accident. if all else fails, pull over in a safe location on the road until visibility is restored. you want to turn on your hazard lights and try to park the windshield in the same direction the hail is falling.

read more: 15 most common causes of car accidents