Repairing Hail Damage

By: The Auto Guy Email
By: The Auto Guy Email

It’s been a few years since our area really got hammered with hail, but it happened about a month ago. In fact, some of the hail was baseball and softball-sized and that can do a lot of damage. Let’s look at some of the ways to repair hail damage.

Hail damage can be repaired several different ways, depending on the size of the dent. If the dent was caused by hail that was golf ball-sized or smaller, a process called paintless dent repair (or PDR) can be used.

The PDR technician has a large assortment of tools that are designed to reach behind the panel that is damaged and push the dent back out from behind. Many times things such as lights or trim need to be removed to allow the tech to have access to the back of the dented panels. With this process, the panels do not need to be repainted and the vehicle can sometimes be returned to the customer after only one or two days.

Some dents are located in areas where the PDR technician can’t get a tool in behind them, such as along the roofline. In this case, the tech uses a glue gun to attach a tab to the metal, then pulls the dent out from the top with a puller. He then massages the area around the dent with a plastic tool to avoid scratching the paint. After repeating this process several times, the dent is gone.

When you start getting up into the baseball-sized dents, the PDR process just isn’t going to work. Those dents are just way too big to push back out with a PDR tool and the paint is usually cracked as well. When the hail dents are that large, many times the panels need to be replaced and replacing all of that sheet metal takes a lot longer than the PDR method. The hoods and deck lids are not too tough to replace as they are just bolted on.

But roofs are a whole different story. The roof is welded onto the vehicle at the factory so you can’t just unbolt the old one and bolt on a new one. There is a lot of labor involved with removing the damaged roof from the vehicle and welding on a new one. After all of the new panels are installed, the vehicle heads to the paint department.

After the vehicle is painted, it still needs to be reassembled and cleaned up before being returned to the customer. The whole repair process might take one or two weeks, so be prepared for that when you schedule your vehicle for repairs.

The cost to repair a vehicle with the PDR method averages between $1,500 and $3,000 while the cost to repair one that needs a lot of panels replaced can easily exceed $8,000. So you can see that there is a big difference in cost, depending on the size of the dents.


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