The weather around the world is forever changing, mostly for the worst. As the weather grows more extreme, so do the hail storms.
It’s very easy to underestimate hail storms, especially if you live in an area where they’re less common and/or less extreme.
No matter where you’re located, If you’re caught in the middle of a hail storm, there’s a chance your car will be damaged.
Depending on the size of the hail and the force with which it falls, a hail storm could completely total your car. It’s true! The cost to repair hail damage is crazy.
To avoid huge repair bills you should try your best to protect your car from hail damage using the tips that I’ve listed below.
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How To Prevent Hail Damage On A Car
Sometimes, no matter the precautions you take, you’ll be unlucky and get caught out by a hail storm.
Thankfully, regardless of where you are, you’ll always be able to do something to decrease the chances of damage to your vehicle.
Here are 10 steps you can take that may prevent hail damage from occurring:
Avoid locations where hail is common
The best thing you can do for your car and your wallet is to avoid areas that are known for hail.
The region where Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming meet tops the list as the most common location for hailstorms. This region has upwards of 10 hail storms a year and is referred to as hail alley.
It’s a no brainer to avoid these areas whenever possible. Depending on your luck and how easy it is for you to move, you may even want to consider living elsewhere.
In 25 years of living in the UK, I’ve seen a handful of hail storms, all of which were minor and caused 0 damage to vehicles.
Buy, rent or build a garage
There’s no question that storing your car in a garage is the most effective way to prevent hail damage.
Unfortunately it’s also one of the least actionable steps on the list. Nearly half of Americans live paycheck to paycheck meaning they won’t be able to buy, build or rent a garage for their car.
If you are in a position to build or rent a garage that’s close to your house, I would seriously recommend it. They’re great for storage, offer a place to escape too and will keep your car away from hail storms.
Already got a garage? Turn it into your dream garage with these 13 essentials.
Purchase covered parking
Similar to a garage, you can buy covered parking.
Carports are effectively big tents, gazebos or awnings that you can park under, offering protection to your car from mother nature.
Obviously to use these, you’ll need a location off-street to park your car. Though your wife may not want a huge tent sat in your driveway…
Carports come in all different shapes, sizes and materials. You can buy them from Amazon starting at $100.
Check the weather forecast
Paying attention to the weather forecast will allow you to plan ahead.
On the days where hail is forecast, it’s up to you whether you want to leave your car in the garage or risk venturing out. (Just because it’s forecast, doesn’t mean it will come).
Even in the areas where hail storms are common and quite extreme, you cannot be living in fear of hail damage. It would stop you from doing so much.
Just pay attention to the forecast to plan and prepare with potential hail storms in mind.
Park in a sheltered area
Since you’ll not always be able to park your car in a garage, carport or multi-story car park you may have to compromise.
Parking in a sheltered area or close to a building will offer some protection from hail. It may be the difference between your whole car being covered in hail damage or just one side.
If I was to park next to a big building and cover my car in blankets I’d be confident that my car is relatively safe from hail.
Use blankets or car covers
People talk about car covers as being the holy grail to preventing hail. That’s not true.
You need to have realistic expectations. Unless it’s a thick cover with protective materials inside, there’s only so much that they can do.
Covering your car in blankets or using a car cover will lessen the damage and may even prevent the paint on your car from cracking.
Blankets and covers are also great to have in your trunk when traveling in-case you’re caught in a surprise hail storm.
With that being said, car covers will not completely prevent damage. You will always be better parking in a covered spot when possible.
Pull over and find cover
If you’re out on the highway and find yourself in the middle of a serious hailstorm, it’s best that you pull over and find shelter.
When possible, locate the closest covered car park. This could be a shopping mall, gas station or multi-story car park. Obviously if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere this isn’t possible.
Depending on the size of the hail, driving in a storm can be very dangerous. Hail storms can decrease visibility and could potentially crack or smash your windscreen.
Get comprehensive coverage
Having comprehensive coverage will not prevent your car from hail damage but it will prevent you from having to drive around in a hail damaged car.
While I personally wouldn’t claim for any bodywork damage, it’s always good to have the option.
Claiming for hail damage may increase your insurance premium.
You should also keep in mind that while a body shop fixes hail damage, you’ll either have a courtesy car or have to use public transport.
Do your research beforehand and seriously think whether it’s worth making a claim or not.
If you’re away from home when a hailstorm starts, you may not have anything that will protect your car from the hail damage. This is when you need to improvise.
Using the floor mats that are in your car to cover the windscreen, hood or roof could protect your car from any serious damage.
You could also use the removable floor in your trunk that covers the spare wheel. This is harder though and may cause damage, so be careful when placing it on the car.
It’s easy to see how quickly improvising could save you a lot of money.
When the storm starts, don’t panic. Think about which steps to take that will give you the best results.
If you’re driving in very light hail, more often than not, your best option is to keep driving. Hail storms don’t last forever and they certainly don’t cover every inch of the country.
In most cases, if you keep driving, you’ll be out of the hail storm just as fast as you entered it.
How do dealerships protect cars from hail damage?
You can probably imagine the dread that dealership owners feel when they hear that a hail storm is forecast.
Very few dealerships own covered parking, sure they have the showroom but that’s never going to fit all of their cars. Add in the time it takes to maneuver them all around, It’s not realistic to expect them to move cars around every time there’s a hint of hail.
So what do they do?
The exact same as us. They pray that the vehicles are not damaged by the hail.
Some will follow the tips and tricks that I’ve listed in the article, others will even open up the bonnets and trunk in the hope that there’s less surface area hit but there’s no certain way to protect their cars.
The most common solution among dealerships is to wait for the storm to blow over, assess the damage and then make a claim to their insurance or sell the cars off as “hail damaged”.
Some smaller, independent shops may even use DIY Dent Repair kits to remove minor dents as making a claim may do more harm than good.
What to do about hail damage on a car
- Ignore It – A lot of the time, hail damage doesn’t necessarily need to be repaired. It may look ugly, but as long as the paint isn’t cracked, you will not see any weather effects taking place.
- Claim For It – Depending on your car insurance policy, you may be able to claim for hail damage repairs. I’d personally avoid this option, but it’s up to you at the end of the day.
- Pay To Get It Fixed – If the hail damage is minor, I’d ask around at local body shops for estimates. I’d much rather pay out of my own pocket for any bodywork repair as, they can be costly and insurance companies will make sure they get their money back.
- Repair Hail Damage Yourself – Are you a hands-on, practical person? You may want to repair the hail damage yourself.
If you choose this route, you’ll have to buy a DIY Dent Repair Kit and learn how to use each tool for the best results.
As someone that repairs dents for a living, it’s definitely not for everyone and you could make the damage worse.