There’s nothing worse than seeing your car covered in dents and dings that weren’t your fault.
For some, the threat of hail damage is almost non-existent, for others, it’s a common occurrence.
Live in an area such as Colorado, Wyoming or Nebraska? I would probably consider moving. (Seriously, Cheyenne is predicted to have over 10 hail storms a year).
If you care about your car and lives in an area where hail is common, this article will help you to remove hail dents yourself.
Learning to remove dents yourself will potentially save you a lot of money. The cost of hail damage is crazy.
That said, vehicle body repair is not for everyone. It can be a very frustrating process, especially when starting out.
Determine whether Hail dents can be fixed
The first step in fixing any dent is to assess the damage and see whether it can actually be fixed.
Without being an experienced panel beater or PDR technician you won’t know what to look for but I’m going to do my best to teach you.
Pierced metal – To correctly fix a hole or slice in metal, you will need to be able to weld. Depending on the type of damage you may even have to replace the panel altogether. (Not For Beginners).
Stretched Metal – If the panel is stretched beyond a certain point, it will be almost impossible to repair. There are methods to “shrink” metal and plastic but more often than not you’ll be better off replacing the panel altogether.
Cracked Paint – If you have cracked paint, you can still fix the dent but it will need refinishing techniques to look 100%.
Providing your paint is fine and you can access the dent from either side, Paintless Dent Repair will always be the best way to remove hail dents.
How To Fix Hail Damage
There are many different methods that are used to remove hail dents from a car.
While PDR is normally the best option, you can also repair dents by manipulating the temperature of a panel, or by performing a traditional body shop repair.
Paintless Dent Repair
As someone that’s trying to perform small repairs at home in their driveway, the best solution will be a DIY Dent Repair Kit.
DIY kits will often come with a glue gun, multiple pulling tools, a tap down kit, and some other additional equipment. This PowPDR Kit is exactly what you need.
If you’re someone that’s looking to learn the trade, you may want to familiarize yourself with the best PDR Tools. Sure, they’re more expensive, but it’s what the pros use.
When doing PDR you should also have a heat gun.
Having a heat gun will make it easier to work in cold weather, pre-heating the panel to make it more flexible.
A heat gun will also allow you to perform PDR on a plastic bumper, though you may have to strip the bumper off before repairing it.
Note: If you heat up the paint on a car too much it will burn and begin to crack. This isn’t an issue if you were going to paint the panel, however, it’s a complication you should avoid as a beginner.
Overall Paintless Dent Repair is great, it’s definitely useful, though doing it yourself requires a lot of patience.
If you’re someone that needs quick results or doesn’t want to experience the frustration of dent removal, a professional repair may be the only option.
Using Hot & Cold to Remove Hail Dents
I’ve already touched on the topic of using a heat gun to perform PDR. The other way to remove hail dents using temperature manipulation is with Dry Ice.
Dry Ice Dent Repair was very effective back in the day when cars were made of thicker metal. Body shops used to heat up the panel with a blow torch or heat gun and apply dry ice, which would force the dent back into place.
Nowadays with aluminum being commonly used it’s much less effective. You may be able to repair minor dents using a heat gun and dry ice, but its effectiveness is questionable at best.
Traditional Bodyshop Repair Methods
A traditional repair is much more likely to go wrong for an untrained first-timer.
Panel beating and paint spraying are both skilled trades that need a lot of time and effort to perfect. I’m an apprentice panel beater myself, I would definitely know!
In a traditional repair, you would try your best to remove the dent by pulling the metal or pushing it back into place.
After making the dent as small as possible you would apply cataloy/body filler/dolphin glaze over the top.
When the filler is dry, you need to shape it using an abranet block. Locating and tapping down high spots, while also filling in any low spots.
Once the dent has been repaired to satisfactory levels, it then needs to be painted. Rattle cans will work for small jobs but the finish may be questionable.
If you don’t know what you’re doing or aren’t willing to pay to fix your mistakes, it’s best that you don’t try this method.
Remove & replace The Damaged Panel
Depending on your car and whether you are able to get the panel you need from the junkyard, it may be easier to remove and replace the damaged panel.
In cases with extreme damage, it may even be necessary.
It’s useful to know how to fit and refit doors, wings, bumpers and wing mirrors but you may not have the time, tools or even want to.
If you want to learn how to remove and refit panels you will need tools. The absolute minimum that you will need is a socket set, plastic trim clip tools, and a metal trim clip tool.
Providing you have a common car, there are many resources on youtube that will help you to see exactly what needs to be done to remove and refit any panel on your car.
Keep in mind that if you’re working on a brand new model, parts will be harder to come by and there’ll almost certainly be no tutorials online.
How To Prevent Future Hail Damage
The absolute best way to prevent future hail damage is to move to an area where hail is very unlikely. I can’t remember the last time hail fell in my area, and when it did, it was very small, leaving behind zero damage.
Admittedly, completely uprooting your life to avoid hail damage isn’t a realistic solution. There are other things you can do, but you’ll still be a victim to hail while driving.
- Find covered parking – If you’re driving, pull over and find the closest parking area with shelter. At home, if you have space, make a sheltered area or put your car in the garage.
- Check the weather forecast – If hail is forecasted, you may be best to cancel the day out. That way you can leave the car in a sheltered area and not have to venture out in bad weather.
- Cover your car – Buying a car cover will protect your car against UV rays, water spotting and provide a little extra protection from hail damage. Don’t expect it to protect your car from extreme hail.
Unfortunately, as a car owner, no matter what you do, you can be unlucky. If the damage is going to occur, you can try your best to prevent it, but it will likely happen no matter what.
Sometimes all you can do is be prepared to fix whatever happens to your car. Whether this is learning the skills to repair it yourself or having an emergency fund to pay a professional.
While I’m aware it’s not fixing the problem yourself, sometimes a professional repair is the best option.
Depending on the damage, repairing your car may be a bigger job than you can handle and it’s ok to admit that.
Taking your car to a trusted body shop will cost you money but it guarantees results in a short period of time. If you’re not satisfied with the results, you’ll also be able to send it back until they fix it properly.
Hail Damage FAQ’s
will the sun pop out hail dents?
It’s commonly believed that leaving your car in the sun could pop out hail dents. Unfortunately, this is not true.
While working on plastic, heating up the area can be enough to release the pressure and make it return to its normal shape. Metal is very different.
Leaving your car in the sun will heat up the metal, potentially making it easier to remove dents, but it will not be enough to pop out hail dents on its own.
Does Hail Damage Need To Be Repaired?
The thing about hail damage is that a lot of the time it doesn’t actually need to be repaired.
In some extreme cases, hail damage will crack the paint on a car, it may also dent a panel so much that the integrity is questionable. In this scenario, a repair will be necessary.
If the paint is still perfect and the dings are minor, Hail Damage is just ugly to look at. It won’t cause any rust issues and will not need urgently repaired.
That being said, if your car is your pride & joy, it’s completely understandable that you would get the hail damage repaired as soon as possible.
Is it worth getting hail damage repaired?
This question is mostly “what’s your car worth to you?”. When I first got my car, I wanted it to be perfect, but overtime stopped caring as much because it’s an old car with little value.
Unless the hail damage is going to cause rust problems or significantly worsens your driving experience, it’s probably not worth fixing it.
The cost of a professional repair is expensive. You may get independent body shops that will repair the panel relatively cheap, but to go through your insurance, it could cost $1000-$3000.