Hail damage and how to avoid it (or at least try).
What is hail?
If you’ve ever been in a snowball fight when someone decides to lob the hardest ice-packed ball at you, you know it hurts. If cars or trucks had feelings, they’d tell you the same thing about hail. Ice balls that fall (or get blown) from the sky can cause some serious problems. It is essentially raindrops that get propelled up into the atmosphere where they freeze before coming to the ground. Updrafts from thunderclouds can actually pull the droplets back up into the clouds several times before they eventually get too heavy and end up dropping. According to an article by the National Severe Storms Laboratory, “Though Florida has the most thunderstorms, Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming usually have the most hail storms“. KGAB AM 650 posted a link with videos of previous hail storms around Wyoming.
Damage and cost to cars and trucks
When pieces of hail hit the metal on cars/trucks it can hit hard enough that it will cause dents. If it hits really hard, it can crack windshields and not just dent the metal, but crack the paintwork through to the bare metal. To replace a windshield can cost anywhere from $190 to $1,000 dollars depending on the vehicle. Repairing the dents can cost anywhere from $40-$80 per dent. Depending on which panels it hits, some dents could be trickier to repair. Jennifer Zarello, Manager of the Fremont Auto Collision Center in Casper, WY said the average hail damage repair is around $2500. This cost could up if the damaged panels are aluminum, she said the cost could go up as much as 50%. It is entirely possible that a vehicle can be declared a ‘total loss’ if the cost of repairing the damage is more than the vehicle is worth. It is also possible that a vehicle could end up with a branded title.
Of course, you can leave the dents in the car, however, this will affect the trade-in value with the cost to repair being removed from the value of the vehicle. Comprehensive insurance will cover hail damage. You may have to pay your deductible and a claim may result in the cost of your auto insurance premiums going up (depending on your provider and policy). If you do have make a claim, make sure you contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
How to protect your vehicle from hail
Taking a few minutes to protect your vehicle is well worth it to avoid an insurance claim and/or body shop trip. If you have a garage, put your car/truck in the garage. If not, find a parking garage, or somewhere that has shelter such as a hotel entrance or car wash. If you can’t find a covered area, park close (right next) to a large/tall building and use it as a hail shadow. For example, if the storm is coming from the West, park on the East side of the building, ie. the opposite side to the direction the storm is coming from. Here are some other ideas and materials you can use to attempt to protect your vehicle from hail.;
Use a car cover/hail blanket
Place a tarp over the roof, windshield, and tailgate,
Use paracord, string, bungees or tape to hold in place and/or place something heavy enough (that won’t also damage your car) on top to hold your material down during the wind.
Check out this video of Chris Hobson, Casper, Wy, quickly covering his truck in blankets to protect it!
Video courtesy: Stephanie Hobson.
Lauren has been working in the automotive industry both in the U.K and in the U.S. for over 10 years. A car geek, photographer, big game chaser and bagpipe player, powered by coffee. Send your questions to: