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Hail Damage

Hi Everyone,

I have a 2005 Acura TL that was recently subjected to a sudden and severe hail storm in the parking lot at work. Needless to say, the trunk, roof, and hood are riddled with dents. The side panels also have dents, though not as severe. If I had to estimate without counting, I would say there are roughly 50 dents, ranging from very minor to severe.

I called my insurance company and took the car to a body shop I’ve been loyal to for over 6 years. They told me I have to wait until the end of the month for their “hail guy” to come in – this is apparently a guy who specializes in “paintless dent removal.”

I watched a couple videos on YouTube to learn what this was, this is one:

However, there are so many dents on my car that I am doubting that this spot-repair technique will adequately alleviate the damage, instead of replacing the panels.

So I guess my question is the following: Is paintless dent removal the best choice to repair severe hail damage, or should my body shop be replacing the panels?

I take excellent care of my car: it has 105,000 miles right now, and I intend to use this car as long as I possibly can. I follow the maintenance schedule, use fully synthetic engine oil, repair body damage when it occurs, etc. So I want to make sure I get the best repair job possible.


I didn’t watch your video, but professional paintless dent removal (PDR) is the best way to fix hail damage. Car dealers get their entire lots fixed with PDR after hail storms. Some very bad hail can not be repaired with this method, but smaller to moderate size dents can be fully repaired.

I agree with TXdealer.  The paintless system is the best choice for both you and the insurance company.  I had that repair one time and it was not detectible after the repair and has lasted some years without a problem.

7 year old cars with 105,000 miles on them don’t get new body panels…They would total the car (cheaper) first. The insurance company will write you a check. What you do with that check is up to you…

Here’s The Problem I See. Some Of The Dents Will Be Above Spot Welded Or Bonded Reinforcements In The Roof, Hood, And Deck Lid (Look Underneath). Those Will Not Be Removed With Paintless Dent Repair As Access To The Underside Of The Dent Is Necessary.
Correct Me If I’m Wrong.

Usually filler is used to fill much of the dents prior to repainting.

Yes go with the PDR system if you want it fixed. I have used this system it works great. If you can live with the dents take a pay off from the insurance company. Its not going hurt the value of the car at this point in it’s life. I would make sure my insurance rates were not going up if you make this claim. It could cost you more in the long run.

I had a friend whose car was damaged by hail on the top, trunk and hood. The worst damage was the top and the insurance company wanted to total the car. I suggested that she might see about having a vinyl top installed on the car. The insurance company went for that and the car wasn’t totaled. I don’t know if trim shops will still install vinyl tops, or how it would look on your Acura. On my friend’s Oldsmobile, it actually increased the value of the car. Of course, this was back when vinyl tops were all the rage.

Urk. Not a fan.

PDR is fine. Replacing the body panels, involves cutting and welding on this car (they aren’t going to replace all the sheet metal, just the stuff that’s dented, and the roof doesn’t exactly just bolt on). Remember that when they get done, it’s supposed to be restored to the condition it was in before the damage. If it’s not, insist that they get it right.

Having to wait for the hail guy is totally normal, btw. They usually travel around with a big trailer full of their equipment and visit various body shops.

I had paintless dent removal done after a hail storm a few years ago. My insurance company contacted me and offered to pay my deductible if I went with this option. It turned out to be cheaper for all involved and the car was like new when I got it back. In addition instead of waiting days/weeks to get my car returned I had it back the same day.

On an unrelated note, make sure you check the roof of your house, these hailstorms do the same sort of damage to asphalt shingles.

Gee, I’ve been waiting since Memorial Day to get mine in to the PDR guy. The body shop and the PDR guy will evaluate whether it is better to replace panels like hood and truck or to repair them. Depends on a lot of things-access, how severe, how close together and so on. In severe cases, they will even replace the roof if they have to.

I watched the video and I have no idea what was going on. What part is that being repaired? Why is it suspended? What was happening when the entire image flexed? Or is it simply all a joke?

I watched the video. It appears that you make the car pucker up and eventually, the dent goes away. I imagine that wasn’t Dave’s intent, but I know what I saw. The problem with a video like this is it shows you only before and after. If he can use software to make the front end squint, then he can erase the dents with software, too. Or just replace the grill with a new one. I suspect that a shop would just replace a grill and spend their time repairing sheet metal dents. But you learn nothing about the process from the video.

BTW, you are basically at the mercy of your insurer. On the positive side, they probably have a lot of experience with shops that repair this type of damage, and know if it can be done or not. Make sure that this is the case (ask them). And you still should be able to tell them that the job is not up to snuff.

Steve, It looked like either a hood or a trunk but it doesn’t really matter. They were just showing the technique of working the dent out from underneath by flexing the metal in the right spots around it. The lines being reflected on the surface show where the high and low spots are. When the lines return to a straight line, the surface is smooth. Its a specialized field with some folks better than others as usual. They can also glue cups on the dent to pull them out. Just depends on where they are and how bad.

Dry Ice and Heat for the spots that cant be reached. I have watch it done and it is a true art. I have try to do it myself and its one job they can have. Give me a frame job or a car to clip. LOL

Yeah I tried it years ago on my 59 Pontiac hood and decided I’d best just do some dolly and hammer work and filler.

PDR is great but you need to repair and replace panels.

I’ve never tried this, but I’ve been told that placing ice on hail damage dents on a hot day will sometimes cause them to pop out on their own. This might be something you could first try on a couple of the dents to see if it works. If it does take the insurance check and repair it yourself using this method.