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A Guide to Car Hail Damage Repair: DIY vs. Auto Body Shops

Key Collision Centers
A dent outlined by a bright marker on a red car

Mother nature can be unpredictable, but one thing we know for sure is that the elements can do a number on your vehicle. When a particularly heavy hailstorm impacts a car’s paint job or dents the surface, many owners are left wondering how to get their car looking good as new again.

Can I Fix Hail Damage Myself?

Yes, but probably no. While it’s entirely dependent on the level of hail damage, your experience and available tools, hail damage repair is not small undertaking. If you’re curious about DIY repair options, here are a couple of the most common.

  • Heat Gun Hail Repair – When a vehicle gets a dent — and in the case of hail damage, many dents — the metal surface stretches to some degree. To fix the stretch, remove the dent and make the car’s surface look normal again, you can use a rapid heating and cooling method. Using a heat gun, each dent can be warmed on a medium/low setting, then quickly treated with a very cold element, such as dry ice. The idea is that the heat will make the metal surface more pliable and the rapid cooling from the ice will cause the metal to contract, pushing the dent out of the car. However, this method is not foolproof — overheating the vehicle’s surface can damage the paint and make matters much worse.
  • Suction-Cup Pulling Tools – Another, more accessible tool for automotive hail damage repair are suction cup pulling tools. As implied by the name, these tools can be suctioned directly to the dent and then pulled up on to smooth the surface of the car. With many dents, this can be a time-consuming and physically demanding process, and must be done very carefully.

Why You Should Trust an Auto Body Shop for Car Hail Damage Repair

Many people worry that going to an auto body shop means getting overcharged for repairs and being left without a vehicle for an extended period of time. Thankfully, that is not usually the case, and there are a number of reasons why you should turn to a professional auto body shop for your car’s hail damage repair.

  1. Stay-of-the-Art Repair Tools: For most hail damage, professional auto body shops can use what is known as paintless dent repair (PDR). The PDR process requires trained technicians to use metal rods of various sizes and shapes to work and push each individual dent out of the vehicles surface from underneath.
  2. Highly Certified Technicians: When you let an auto body shop fix any dents or damage to your car from hail, you’re getting serviced by highly trained, certified and expert-level technicians who have the experience and tools necessary to get the job done right.
  3. Repair Guarantee: Depending on where you take your car, many auto body facilities have repair guarantees. This usually means that they guarantee the quality of the repair for the life of the vehicle or for however long you own it.
  4. Simple Insurance Claims: Working with your insurance company can be a headache, but an auto body shop can coordinate the entire repair process with your insurer. All you have to do is drop off and pick up your freshly repaired car.
  5. Multiple Repair Options: A professional auto body shop will provide many options for repairing the hail damage done to your vehicle. Depending on the extent of the damage, your car may require a few different solutions, such as paintless dent repair, crack repair, filler/glazing or body panel replacements.

Does Insurance Cover Hail Damage?

Whether or not an insurer covers your car’s hail damage repair can vary from policy to policy. At the most basic level, though, it comes down to whether or not you have collision coverage, comprehensive coverage or liability coverage.

  • Collision coverage, as the name implies, only covers damage caused by a collision with another vehicle or object. This coverage will not cover hail damage repair.
  • Comprehensive coverage, however, will cover damage to your car caused by things other than collision, like fire, natural disasters and yes, hail.
  • Liability coverage will protect you in the case of a car accident in which you injure or damage another person or vehicle. This will not cover hail damage repair.

Another important thing to check (no matter what kind of auto insurance you have is what your deductible is. Depending on your deductible and how severe the hail damage is, it might be more cost-effective to pay out of pocket.

How Much Does Hail Damage Repair Cost?

The cost of car hail damage repair will depend entirely on the severity and number of dents that need to be fixed. On average, cost estimates run:

  • Between $30-45 per small dent
  • Between $45-55 per medium dent
  • Over $75 per large dent

And because hail causes so many dents in your vehicle’s surface, those repairs will add up fast. The average cost of an insurance claim for hail damage repair is $3,000. So without coverage, that cost falls onto you.

Our expert staff at our 11 convenient Key Collision Centers will bring your car back to it's original pre-crash glory.