Buying a car with hail damage? You Probably Shouldn’t

As you likely already know, every time you’re buying a second-hand car, it’s beneficial to check it over before coming to a conclusion.

Doing this will help you to decide whether the car is worth its asking price. It will also give you an idea of the type of repairs you may be looking at and how much money you may have to spend to fix the car.

There are many reasons why you may be looking at buying a hail damaged car. Being able to buy your dream car at a significantly lower price is very appealing, but it’s also very risky.

In this article, I’ll discuss the details of buying a car with hail damage, where you can buy them, and what type of discount you should ask for.

Should you buy a car with hail damage

First things first, if you’re someone that knows absolutely nothing about cars, you should get this idea out of your head.

Unless you’re looking for a cheap run around, that will last you a couple of months, buying a hail damaged car is not for you.

However, if you’re someone that’s familiar with cars or are looking to develop their skills while working on a project car, it may be a slightly better idea.

Everyone has a different situation but if you’re not willing to throw time, money or effort into your car, you probably shouldn’t be buying one that needs work.

I suggest weighing up the pros and cons before thinking about making a purchase.

Reasons not to buy a hail damaged car

While sometimes you may be able to score an unbelievable deal on hail-damaged cars, a lot of the time it’s not worth it.

Yes, it may cost you a lot less money upfront, but it could lead you on a very stressful and financially draining path.

Below are 5 of the most reasons why you should avoid buying a hail damaged car.

Insurance Complications

If you’re looking for the lowdown on covering hail damaged vehicles, it’s best you go to comparethemarket.

Buying insurance for a car that has pre-existing hail damage can be a nightmare.

Because you’re buying a car that may have a lot of damage, it could have already been considered as a write-off or total loss.

If you manage to get comprehensive cover, you could end up paying a higher premium in comparison to cars that haven’t been previously damaged.

The most common route Insurance companies take with hail-damaged cars is to provide third party cover.

Third-party cover will only pay for damage done to other cars or property that were a result of your accident. This means any damage to your car is your responsibility and you’ll have to pay to get it fixed.

Finally, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to refuse to insure a car that’s heavily damaged or has before been written off.

If you have a car in mind, it’s best to contact insurance companies and talk about options before making a purchase.

Financing Complications

Financing a car is something that I’d never do myself, however, that’s not what we’re here to debate.

When trying to finance a hail damaged car there are a number of things that can happen.

The most common scenario is for the lending company to refuse you.

A loan for a hail damaged car is high risk. To get a loan you’ll need an amazing credit score and even then, they’ll probably negotiate a deal that is a complete rip-off.

Not only that. In the case that you find a company willing to lend you the money, you may have to pay a much higher fee upfront. Again, this is because it’s such a high-risk loan, it’s barely worth them taking you on.

Make sure to contact the lending company beforehand and tell them the exact state of the car, even showing them photos when possible.

Being completely upfront and honest will be the best option for both parties.

Easy To Underestimate

You can underestimate the damage to a car in many different ways.

Most of the time, hail damage is fairly simple. It’s never really strong enough to cause anything more than surface damage so you’ll not have to worry about damaged back panels or bumper brackets.

It’s not uncommon for heavy hail to smash the glass on a car so there is potential for water damage. Thankfully, this is rare as most dealerships would cover the smashed glass before anything get soaked through.

The most common way to underestimate the damage is by simply eyeballing it.

If the person or dealership selling the car will let you, get a car paint marker and take your time to assess every panel, circling every dent on the car. This is how you will get an idea of just how much work or money you’ll have to put into repairing the car.

Harder To Resell

If you decide to resell the car and it’s still hail damaged, less people will be interested in buying.

As well as the fact that fewer people will want to buy the car, it will massively affect what they are willing to pay for it.

Unless you’re buying a car that’s at the complete bottom of the market, you don’t get much value when buying hail-damaged cars.

Poor Repairs

This is a warning for everyone, whether you’re buying a car that’s already been repaired or one that needs repairing.

In the world of autobody there are many “tradesmen” that don’t care about the quality of work they put out. As a result, they’ll complete the job to a level where it’s “good enough” or “the customer won’t know any better”.

If you’re buying a car that may already have repairs done, pay attention to how each individual panel looks and feels. You’ll be surprised at how many cars have had work done.

When looking for a body shop to repair your car, you should do your research upfront. Make sure that you trust the person, ask to see previous repairs and maybe even ask to see the shop.

Other factors to consider when buying

As well as the 5 reasons listed above, there are other factors that you should consider when buying a hail damaged car.

Do your research

Just like any other car purchase, you should always use websites like Carfax to plug in the VIN Number. Doing this will allow you to check accident reports, mileage rollbacks, owner count and whether the car is a salvage title or not.

If the car in its current state has been declared a total loss, it’s going to cost you a lot more than what it’s worth to repair (unless you can do it yourself).

Warrantys & Guarantees

If you’re buying from a dealership they may offer you some sort of warranty or guarantees. Ask them what exactly is involved in their offer, they may surprise you and fix some of the damage for free.

It’s also possible that they’ll offer you a “special price” to fix these dents themselves using an in-house body shop or PDR Technician.

Ask someone that’s qualified

Admittedly very few people will know someone that’s qualified in the world of panel beating and paint refinishing so this may be hard for some.

If you do know someone and they’re willing to help you out, great. If not, you can take photos of the car, try your best to hide the fact it’s a dealership lot and send them to businesses online for free estimates.

Only use this method with cars that you’re serious about. I’m sure businesses will start to notice that you’re using them for free estimates and will begin to ignore you.

Ask about any estimates they may have received

Providing you ask politely and the car was hit on their lot, the car dealership may let you see the repair estimate. If they don’t, you can probably assume they’re hiding something and it’s best to avoid purchasing.

If you’re buying off of a private seller, odds are they’ve gotten a couple of quotes themselves, but again, for obvious reasons they may hide that information.

The truth is, the sellers owe you nothing. Repairs are very expensive and you’ll never get 100% of the repair cost deducted from the price of the car.

Compare the price of similar non damaged cars

While buying a car at $1000 less than the next cheapest car on the market is a good feeling, it doesn’t always make sense.

If you plan on restoring the car to its former glory you’ll almost always be better off buying a clean example, even when you have the skills to repair it yourself.

How much do you really want this car? Why do you need this exact one? Can’t you save up for a clean example? These are all questions that you should answer before making a purchase.

Where to buy hail damaged cars?

buy hail damaged cars from copart

The most common place to buy hail-damaged cars is Copart.

If you’re not already familiar with their business, they auction off damaged cars all over the world. These vehicles can be crash damaged, hail damaged, stolen or anything else that you can think of.

Another place to look would be your local salvage yards. Depending on the size, they could have various options, most of which will be at reasonable prices.

Finally, you can find hail-damaged cars in all the normal places you’d search for when buying cars.
You could even use search engines like AutoTempest. Adding “hail” into your search queries will make them search the internet for every hail damaged car they can find.

How much to discount a hail damaged car?


I like to operate on the basis that each dent will cost $50-$100 to repair.

With 20 dents, the repair would quickly add up to $2000. Using this method will give you realistic expectations and quickly determine whether a car is worth it or not.

In truth, the cost to repair hail damage will vary massively. There are many variables that will determine the price.

First up, you have the repair method. Are you going to choose traditional body shop repairs or Paintless Dent Repair? PDR is cheaper and more suited to hail damage, but it does have its limitations.

Secondly, how damaged is the car? What areas are damaged? Do panels need to be replaced?
If the damage is widespread and there’s a dent in every panel, it’s going to take a lot of time to strip, repair and refit.

When buying new panels you’ll also have to take into account that they could need painting. That’ll add more material and labor costs to the bill.

Finally, how long will your car be in the shop? Will you need to pay for a courtesy car or get public transport? Choosing public transport will add a level of discomfort and dependency while costing you extra to travel.

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