Thousands of vehicles were damaged in the recent hailstorm and there are a few different techniques available to repair that hail damage. But before we discuss those techniques, let me tell you about a couple of techniques that DON’T work.
One thing I hear all the time is that if you just leave your vehicle out in the sun this summer, all of those dents will just pop out on their own. The truth is that the heat of the summer sun will not get rid of all of those dents and neither will shrinking the dents with dry ice.
Here are the three most common methods of repairing hail damage the right way. Replacing the damaged panels is the most straightforward method, although the way the panel is attached to the vehicle can vary. For example, a hood that is damaged is simply unbolted and replaced with the new panel. But a roof is a whole different story. It is welded to the body of the vehicle, so it takes much longer to remove the old panel and weld in a new one. Either way, you are replacing the hail damaged panels with brand new metal.
In many cases, the dents can be removed with a process called "paintless dent repair" or PDR. This is a process where the PDR tech gains access to the back side of the panel and uses special tools to nudge the dents back out from behind. As long as the dents are not too deep and as long as the paint around the dent is not cracked, the PDR method can be used and guaranteed for the life of the vehicle.
If the PDR tech has a hard time gaining access to the backside of the panel, he can sometimes “glue pull” the dent from the outside. A tab is glued to the panel and a special puller is attached to pull out the dent. A little finish work afterwards and the dent is “gonzo."
If the dents are in an area where the PDR method cannot be used, the area will need to be sanded, repaired and refinished. This requires removing all of the trim on the panel for refinishing purposes and takes much longer than the PDR method.
On most vehicles that we are seeing, all three of those methods are used. For example, the hood and roof might be replaced, PDR is used on the sides and the repair and paint method is used on the other panels.
The time it takes to repair hail can vary from a day or two if the PDR method can be used, up to several weeks if you need to have panels replaced. So be patient and work with a local company if you want someone to actually be around to honor your “lifetime” warranty.