Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Is it ok to drive in a hail storm?

So, my Wife and I have a major disagreement going.

We had a prodigious(for Wisconsin) hail storm recently. A huge volume of 3/8" diameter hail fell in just a few minutes, covering everything in sight. We were at home, car in the garage, no problem there. Seeing several trucks speed by, sparked a discussion.

Should you continue to drive in a hail storm?

I say “heck no, pull over or preferably under something ASAP!”.

My wife, says “keep on driving at a reasonable speed”


You are not unsafe in a hailstorm. However, the car may be damaged beyond repair.

In our area last year we had a record hailstorm with golf ball and up size ice balls. The total claims were $400 MILLION for cars and buildings damaged. Some shops are still busy fixing hail damaged cars.

I would seek shelter ASAP to protect the car.

3/8" diameter hail probably won’t damage your car, even if you drive in it, but hail can suddenly get bigger. Hailstones that get much larger than golf ball size are getting close to glass-smashing proportions, including possibly breaking out your back window or even your windshield. Like any kind of inclement weather, if you can avoid driving in it, do so. For larger hail, definitely try to find shelter for your car. If a hailstone smashes a window in your car, you could be injured either by glass or by the hail which suddenly has a way into your car.

Well, here’s the deal: in 3/8" hail, you’re probably not going to get any vehicle damage. But hail is indicative of strong updrafts (hail forms as rain drops are hurled upward by the updraft into upper-level air that’s below freezing. It keeps getting bounced up into that air until enough ice layers form to make it heavy enough to fall despite the updraft.)

What that means from a safety standpoint is that any time you see hail, you know there’s a good updraft nearby - the bigger the hail, the more powerful the updraft. And that’s why you often get hail in tornadic storms.

Pulling over generally won’t do you much good, as if the hail is severe enough to damage your car, it will whether you’re driving it or not, and if the hail is that severe you need to worry about finding shelter for you before your car.

Short version: When there’s hail, it’s possible that severe weather up to and including tornadoes is in the area. You should find out what the weather situation is ASAP.

As for parking under stuff, I know you didn’t specifically address this, but it’s a good time to talk about it since severe weather season is kicking off shortly: In a severe/tornadic thunderstorm, do NOT park under an overpass despite what you saw in that famous tornado video. Overpasses are death traps in a tornado.

I’d be more worried about driving on a frozen road than about damaging the car, but I would probably pull under an overpass and wait for it to stop and melt.

I agree. It’s a judgement call like most driving situations and toomdifficult to make a general assessment. At higher speeds where even 3/8 inch hail stones could damage a car, yes pull over. If those smaller hailstones are accumulating and produce slippery driving, yes pull over.

Depends on how bad the hail is…

I’ve seen hail storms that have dented car hoods and cracked windshields. The problem is you don’t know how bad the hail storm will get.

Question: do you want the 3/8" hail to be hitting your windshield at its falling speed or at 50 mph?

Ever been on a motorcycle in a rainstorm?

Personally, I’d stop under an overpass.

Drive on

It’s really a no brainer. If some one is throwing ice pellets at you, go for cover.

We just had softball size hail here in Ga. Killed roofs and cars. A friend was trying to drive home and had his windshield smashed. I would think driving on a lot of hail would be close to driving on ice. I would rather stop.