These dramatic weather patterns shouldn’t come as much of a surprise; locals know that they can count on at least one nasty hailstorm to strike sometime from May to August.
But do you know why hailstorms form in the summer? And if your hapless vehicle gets hit with an icy barrage, do you know the steps to get it fixed for cheap?
Get ready to don your rain poncho and scan the horizon, folks. It might get dicey out there, but hopefully you’ll learn a thing or two.
Hailstorms: Explained for a 5-year-old
Hailstorms are more likely to happen in the summer because the temperature is warm, the air is humid, and dark, towering cumulonimbus clouds are kicking up the static electricity necessary for thundershowers.
Now, hail occurs when strong, warm air updrafts push water droplets into elevations with temperatures well below zero. This freezing process forms ice pellets (hailstones), which fall to the ground when the updrafts aren’t strong enough to support their mass anymore.
The grapefruit-sized hailstones you’ve seen in the Guinness Book of World Records? Those are caused by hailstones rising and falling within the cloud so many times that water droplets freeze on layer after layer of ice. (Slice open a large hailstone and you’ll see the icy layers like an onion.)
The last stage, of course, is when the hailstones are too heavy to be supported by the hot air updrafts, they fall down to earth—striking your vehicle’s bare bodywork without mercy.
The ins (& outs) of paintless dent removal
Whether your car has been dimpled by hail, an errant mall shopping cart, or a bitter ex-girlfriend/boyfriend, paintless dent removal is the most cost-effective way to return your vehicle to factory condition.
Think of paintless dent repair as the “McDonald’s of the automotive world”—they make everyone happy for a lot less money.
Tools of the trade
Unlike traditional auto body repair that involves smoothing out the damage with putty, sanding, and a paint re-spray (or replacing the body panel entirely), technicians who perform paintless dent removal typically use an assortment of hammers, punches, levers, and light-boards to gradually mold the dent back to a smooth surface.
Therefore, paintless dent removal ranges from between one-third to one-tenth the price of traditional body repair.
And while the paintless dent repair specialists at Bennett Dunlop Autobody and River City Ford Collision Centre work in-house, there are many mobile businesses who will come to you to perform ding removal services.
Insist on experience
Like the greatest skills, removing dents is a lot harder than it looks. Our technicians are known to spend close to 90 minutes on particularly onerous dent in a tricky spot.
We recommend that you hire a paintless dent repair technician with at least three years of work experience. Why? Poorly-done dent repair can make your car’s body panel look like topographical view of a mountain range. Those in the business call this “chewing up” the dent.
HELPFUL TIP: One way you can tell if your dent repairperson is a real pro is if they know how to remove taillights, door panels, headliners, etc. This is often a necessary step in getting the right amount of leverage to remove large dents on a vehicle’s fender, roof, or door panel.
My car has hail damage. What do I do now?
First, contact your insurance company
As long as you have comprehensive insurance coverage (i.e. a plan that will reimburse you for car theft, vandalism, fire, animal damage, and other acts of nature) you should be in the clear. However, if you carry only the bare minimum liability insurance, you might be out of luck.
Regardless, you ought to contact your auto insurance company as soon as it’s convenient.
Next, go get an estimate
All reputable auto body shops in Saskatchewan and Manitoba will be happy to give you a quote for your hail damage. Keep in mind, though, that your insurance company is likely only to cover repairs conducted at an SGI- or MPI-approved shop, such as those under the Driving Change Group.
Want to learn more about how to file an SGI or MPI damage claim? Check back here on July 6th for an entire post on how to handle the process.
Repairs that won’t put a huge ding in your wallet
That’s really all there is to it! Paintless dent repairs are relatively inexpensive (approximately $100 per dent), quick to complete (1 hour or less), and don’t involve any messy Bondo, sanding, and paint application.
Speak your mind
- Did your vehicle get damaged in this summer’s latest hailstorm?
- What’s the biggest hailstone you’ve ever found?
- Have you ever tried to remove your own door dents using the paintless method?