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Can Small Hail Damage a Vehicle?

Do you know when to expect small hail? Hail season in America is often unpredictable. But, you can count on a few hail storms between March and August each year.

Vehicle problems due to hail damage don't just happen from large hail storms. Small hail, such as pea-sized hail, also causes unsightly exterior damage to your vehicle. Luckily, there are easy and convenient ways to fix any vehicle issues caused by small hail.

Use this guide to learn when to expect auto hail and how to prevent vehicle damage.

Expect Small Hail When It's Warm Out

It seems strange that during the peak of summer you get hit with a hail storm. At first, it seems like the hot temperatures would prevent any freezing rain from occurring. But, these conditions are exactly what pea-sized hail (or larger!) needs to form.

Hail forms when warm air travels on an updraft, creating a large cloud. These clouds are high enough in the atmosphere where it's very cold. The moisture in the warm air freezes at these high altitudes.

The stronger the warm updraft wind is, the larger the hail balls become. When the moisture vapors freeze, they become heavy and fall back to earth. This is the hail we experience that damages vehicles and other infrastructure.

The speed of how fast hail falls depends on a few factors. First, the size of the hailstone determines how fast it falls from the sky. Other factors include the wind conditions and how quickly the hail begins to melt as it enters warmer altitudes.

Can Small Hail Damage a Vehicle?

Hail that is over half an inch in diameter is more likely to cause severe damage to personal belongings, like your vehicle. A half-inch diameter is not considered small auto hail. Small hail is pea-sized, with about a quarter-inch diameter.

This size of hail causes exterior vehicle issues, especially if the hail storm lasts more than a minute or two. The faster the hail is falling back to earth, the harder it hits your vehicle. The wind speed and length of the storm factor into how dented your vehicle may get.

The angle of the wind is also a factor in how much damage small hail causes to your vehicle. Little to no wind causes the hail to fall straight down, while a hail and windstorm will angle the hail to hit the sides of your vehicle.

The material your vehicle is made out of also factors into how much damage small auto hail causes to its exterior. Steel and aluminum have different strengths and abilities to absorb shock.

Top Four Types of Auto Hail Damage to Look For

If your vehicle was hit by a hail storm, there are some tell-tale signs of damage to look for. Sometimes a vehicle looks okay immediately after a small hail storm. It's when the sun hits it, or when it’s under parking lot lights, that all the dents and scratches appear.

1. Look for Dents

Dents are the most common and noticeable damage to your vehicle from hail. The dent sizes depend on the size of the hail and the severity of the wind. Often, dents are found on the roof, hood, trunk, and side panels of your vehicle.

The side doors often received severe dents if the wind had blown strongly. Sometimes dents damage or crack paint. Remember that small dents are hard to see at first glance.

When the sun hits the vehicle, dents you didn't realize were there start to appear. This can make you feel embarrassed about the look of their vehicle. That’s natural! But auto hail damage is not your fault. And, luckily, hail dents are easy to fix.

2. Look for Paint Damage

Paint damage takes a thorough look to discover sometimes. Severe dents often have paint damage, but smaller dents can also mess up a paint job. Sometimes a paint job looks undamaged but the clear coat is compromised.

Scratches are the most common form of paint damage after a hail storm. Hail gets whipped sideways with the wind and the falling ice scratches the exterior of the vehicle. Ensure that you also check the passenger side doors for scratches.

3. Look for Cracked Glass

Cracked glass is common for storms with large hail. Small auto hail also damages glass on your vehicle. The windshield is the first place to look, but don't forget all the other glass or plastic features.

Remember to check your taillights and your side mirrors.

It's not just a broken windshield to consider when looking for small auto hail damage. Small cracks and chips in the glass require filling immediately to prevent the cracks from spreading. Taking care of this issue right away will prevent costly repairs down the road.

How to Prevent Small Auto Hail Damage

The best way to prevent small hail damage to your vehicle is to park it undercover during a hail storm. If you live in the part of the country that has frequent hail storms during the warmer months, use a car cover to protect your vehicle.

And, if you know hail is expected and you don't have a garage or cover, move your vehicle to an area protected from the wind. That way it mitigates the potential damage.

When your vehicle does get exposed to small hail, call Express Auto Hail Repair to restore it.

Fix Auto Hail Damage with Express Auto Hail Repair

There's no time to wait to get your vehicle fixed after a hail storm. And, insurance covers small hail damage in most cases. Express Auto Hail Repair is a specialized auto hail repair shop for people who want their vehicles repaired in only 48 hours.

Get started with a free 3-min Express Estimate online right now. You can also book a 1-Hour Custom Estimate at our shop. Plus,  if you're 1 of our first 200 customers after a storm, and you have full coverage insurance, your deductible will be fully paid by us. 

Contact Express Auto Hail Repair to learn more about what to expect.


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Team member using specialized tools to work on dent repair on a bright orange 4-door sedan