When going through various online auction sites, have you ever noticed cars that sellers advertise as hail-damaged? These vehicles usually have a much lower price than others of the same age and mileage, and the damage can seem minor. Because of this, you may consider such cars a bargain and an affordable way of getting a decent vehicle. As there are only several small dents around the car, it shouldn’t be too expensive to repair it, right?
Still, before deciding on buying a hail-damaged car, there are several things you need to know about this. The same goes if your car suffered hail damage, and you are now questioning yourself how to fix it. In this article, we will explain how hail damages your car, what is important when assessing it, and the ways of repairing it.
How Hail Causes Damage to Your Car
As you may imagine, hail damage results from big chunks of ice falling from the sky during the storm. However, to cause any damage to your car, flying pieces of ice need to carry a certain amount of energy. One of the decisive factors is the size, as it increases the weight and corresponding hail impact energy. But even small pieces of ice can cause damage if the storm wind is strong enough, as this causes high speeds.
The risk and probability of hail damage is different for various car elements, depending on their position and material. Although the glass seems the most fragile, it can actually survive severe hail damage, only to break under big pieces of ice. Plastic parts, such as fenders or bumpers, are very flexible and will return in original shape, making them very resistant. Unlike them, metal parts are more vulnerable, as heavy impacts can create small but irreversible dents.
Why Is It so Hard to Repair Hail Damage?
Although small, repairing hail dents is harder than you think, as it requires a lot of effort and several special tools. This is because chunks of ice that travel at high speed create a relatively deep crater and cause a severe metal deformation. Try to restore it to its original shape with no appropriate precautions, and you might end up causing even more damage.
Another contributing factor that can make hail damage difficult is the shear amount of dents spread around the body of your car. This can range from few smaller indentations on accessible spots to several dozens distributed over all body panels. It is important to know that the size of the dent has no effect on repair time and price that comes with it. This is because the work involved in this process is the same whether it is a small or big imperfection.
The main difference between hail or dent repair and collision repairs is within the scope of work needed to rectify the situation. After a collision, you will replace all damaged parts and components are re-spray them to match the color of your car. However, dented or hail damaged body parts are structurally unscaled and have undamaged paint. Because of this, repairing affected panels instead of replacing them makes sense, as you will keep the factory paint job intact.
How to Fix a Hail-Damaged Car
There are several ways for repairing hail damage and dents in general, but they all fall into the category called paintless dent removal.
One of the common methods is heating the affected area with a blow torch and then putting dry ice on it. This causes the metal to expand and contract, and the resulting movement will force the dent to pop out.
Despite being well-proven and reliable, this method requires extensive experience as it can cause paint damage if not applied properly. The biggest problem here is that the paint can crack if you overheat it, and it is hard to control the temperature during this process.
Another approach to this problem is more mechanical and involves pushing or pulling the dent out using various specialized tools.
Dents that you can reach from underneath, such as those on the hood or trunk, are the easiest to repair. Here, all you need is a suitable hammer or a pry bar and some patience while pushing the dent out.
Situation is more complicated if the damaged area is above various structural reinforcements, which prevent access to it. In situations like this, you will need to pull out the dent using some tools that are developed just for this purpose.
The key for successful dent repair is patience and methodical approach, as any excessive force may cause further damage. Whether you are pushing or pulling out the dent, slow and steady is the strategy that wins the race.
When forming the metal into the desired shape, you must do it in gradual steps, as abrupt deformations might crack the paint. Pouring boiling water on affected areas can help, as it makes both paint more flexible and metal easier to shape.
Because hail repairs require a wide range of specialized tools, it is best to get a paintless dent repair kit.
In most cases, this will be a bag full of pulling sliders, glue sticks and other accessories you can use for pulling out any dent. There are also various hammers and appropriate pry bars that will help you gain access to hidden places. In most cases, you will also get a stripe line board included in these kits. This is an LED light that projects two different colors on the affected area, which helps you in controlled and easy dent removal.
Protect Your Car From Hail
Just like with many other things, prevention is better than cure when it comes to the danger of hail damage. If violent and sudden storms are frequent in your area, you may think about ways of protecting your car before it gets damaged.
An obvious solution for this is keeping your car in the garage or under a carport whenever it is possible.
However, garages or covered parking are not always an option, so you may need additional means of protection at your disposal. One of the popular options is a padded car cover that you mount over your car just like an ordinary cover. It has a layer of soft material integrated inside them, which can absorb most of the hail impacts.
If you are looking for even more protection, there are inflatable covers that you can fill with air. Although similar to ordinary covers, they have a blower motor that transforms it into an air-filled bubble at a click of a button.
The best thing about car covers is that they are portable, as you can fold them in a neat package. This means you can store them in the trunk of your car and have them ready whenever needed. Although covering your car at the company parking lot may look strange, you will be happy when it saves it from unsuspected hail.
With so many cars out in the open, it is no surprise that hail-damaged vehicles are such a common thing. As this ruins both their appearance and market value, it is important to use an effective repair technique. In case of hail-damaged cars, the best method is paintless dent removal, as it leaves the factory paint intact. Still, if storms are frequent in your area, you may get a protective car cover as a preventive measure.
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