While today's hail damage repair techniques can restore most cars to a like-new condition, it's far better to avoid this kind of widespread body damage in the first place. Hail as a severe weather phenomenon is spreading, and each year many car owners encounter it for the first time. Learn what steps to take to protect your vehicle from hail.
Install a Carport
Parking in your garage no matter the weather forecast is an obvious way to prevent hail damage, but what do you do when you don't have a garage? A freestanding carport is the most affordable way to get your vehicle under cover without a long wait or complicated construction permits. Aluminum and other solid carports offer the most protection, but in areas with very small and rare hail, homeowners may get away with temporary tent-style carports with heavy duty vinyl covers. Car ports can be located anywhere, allowing you to take advantage of small yards and parking areas without having to give use any useful space. If storms are particularly bad and include high winds, consider adding walls to the structure to reduce lifting from wind that gets under the carport canopy.
Pay for Parking
Of course, installing a carport still requires some kind of driveway or other ground level space that is solely your own. Hail storms don't care where you live, and many urban dwellers will have no choice but to park on the street or in a nearby lot. Weigh the costs of paying for covered garage parking near your home and work versus the cost of repairing the effects of a single hail storm. Costs for paintless dent removal start at $30 or higher per dent, and even a short hail storm with small hail can leave hundreds of dents on each body panel. You can likely afford years of parking compared to the repair cost of restoring your vehicle.
Improvise with Padding
If you get a warning that hail is on the way and it's too late to think about carports or high tech solutions, find whatever padding is available in the home linen closet and garage. Inflatable pool rafts and toys, air mattresses with or without leaks, comforters and quilts, and other soft materials can all absorb the shock of hail. Inflatable items should be protected with another layer of blankets, towels, or tarps as well to prevent damage. Concentrate on the front and back windshields since they cost the most to replace.
Invest in Inflatables
For long term protection you can store in the trunk, try a self-expanding inflatable car cover. You'll need to find one designed to fit the specific model and type of vehicle you drive so that it doesn't blow off in a storm and leave your car exposed to the elements. Other devices unfold into a high tension tent that bounces hail back and away from your vehicle, but these often can't be deployed in a parking lot or on the street because they rely on stakes that must be pounded into the ground.
Subscribe to Warnings
Finally, all the covers and carports in the world still won't protect your car from hail when you forget to use them because you're unaware of a pending storm. Subscribe to local and state level weather alerts, and check them rather than ignoring them, to always stay on top of the risks to your vehicle. Even a sunny day can create wind advisories that lead to falling branches and dented hoods. Staying on top of changing weather conditions only takes a few seconds with apps and text message alerts.
Even with temporary protection from a cover you may still need vehicle hail damage repair, but your car will definitely be in better shape compared to if you had not used anything at all.