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Hail Damage Repair: Can You Really Do It Yourself?


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You might have heard many urban legends about repairing hail damage to your vehicle yourself. You can find countless videos on YouTube, for example, plugging the benefits of everything from dry ice to hair dryers when it comes to repairing the small but significant dents that pieces of hail can cause to your car. And since enough hail slamming into your new automobile can really destroy its value, it’s no wonder that there are plenty of DIY methods for car repair.

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Hail Damage Repair: Can You Really Do It Yourself?

  1. 1. Hail Damage Repair: Can You Really Do It Yourself? A lot of people think that you can just take care of hail damage by yourself with no knowledge, tools, or experience. The internet is fraught with videos lauding the virtue of all kinds of home remedies, including hair dryers and dry ice. It should come as no surprise that so many people want to find the easy way out when it comes to hail damage dent repair. After all, even little dents in your new car can be detrimental for its value. Regrettably, the reality is that they simply don’t work. The folks at Jungerman CARSTAR have broken these DIY methods down one at a time for you. Jungerman CARSTAR would like the people in St. Peters, St. Charles, O'Fallon, and Lake St. Louis, Missouri to understand that there is not always an easy DIY solution for hail damage. Sun Exposure Some sources will tell you that simply parking your automobile in sunny areas will cause the heat of the sun to get rid of the dents. Common sense probably tells you that this won't resolve your hail damage problem, and it won’t. Nevertheless, wikihow asserts that 1 week of parking in warm sunlight will solve 90% of hail damage. Of course if this were the case there would be far less call for dry ice, hair dryers, and obviously, professional dent repair. Hair Dryers This brings us to the hair dryer method. The idea is to apply additional heat the simple sun exposure cannot provide. Realize that as you apply heat you must watch to ensure you don't damage your car’s paint any more; if you notice any discoloration, stop immediately. Dry Ice Everybody likes to talk about how all it takes is a little dry ice can get rid of those pesky hail dents. They say that it is as easy as making the temperature cool rapidly by warming the
  2. 2. dent via a hair dryer before applying the dry ice. This method probably will not work. Even if it does, the hail damage will only be partially removed. Dent Removal Kit If all of those other homegrown techniques fail you, you can always fall back on the highly lauded dent repair kits. These kits generally come with something to knock the metal and a glue gun. Even so, these kits can’t give you the skills and experience needed to actually take out the dent. If you do choose to try these out, do not take the risk on any larger dents. Many people do not take into account that you can actually make the issue even worse when you do not do it right. Leave It To The Pros So, if nothing else works and you are stuck, must you pay a visit to an auto body shop? Possibly; in the end it is your call, but at the very least you know the damage will be fixed properly if you go to a professional. Will it cost you an arm and a leg? Not always. A lot will depend on the methods utilized. So how do auto body shops fix dents in the St. Louis, Missouri area then? There are several methods. Remove and Replace If the damage is severe and the parts that have been damaged are bolted on and can be easily removed, the remove and replace method may be the proper way to go. In this case the parts in question are simply replaced. Paintless Dent Repair Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) is frequently utilized to repair hail damage. In this process the technician goes behind the dent with tools to massage out the dent leaving the paint surface intact. This technique requires a lot of practice and specific tools, so it is not suited to the do-it-yourselfer. It's especially effective for parts not easily replaced, like roofs and quarter
  3. 3. panels. Of all the professional techniques, it's the most cost effective. In fact, in locales where damaging hail is a normal occurrence, it's the repair method most popular with insurance companies. Finish Glazing This strategy is good for small hail damage and is an alternative to PDR. Some individuals try this at home, outside the professional auto body shop; be sure you know what you are doing before you do. The main advantage of this technique is that you do not have to sand the paint all the way down to the metal; instead, you simply sand it coarsely so that the glaze putty adheres securely. A related advantage is that the protective anti-corrosion coat from the factory isn't removed during the repair since the paint is not sanded all the way down to the metal. Although of course this method is used to make repairs, other than the hail damage in question your paint surface should be in excellent condition for this technique to work well. Here’s how this process works. First, whoever is repairing the damage will have to clean the damaged areas well in order to locate all of the hail damage. The next step is to sand the damaged areas, usually using a hundred and eighty grit paper on a dual-action sander. This step helps to ensure that the glaze sticks well to the car’s surface. After the sanding, it is best to use compressed air to blow all debris from the repair areas. Next, the surface ought to be cleaned again, this time around with degreaser and wax. At this point it is time to apply a slim coat of the finish glaze to fix the little points of damage. Next comes another sanding session, with 150 or 180 grit paper on the dual-action sander. Lastly, the repair is done, and it is time to prime, block, and paint the freshly-repaired areas. Needless to say, this is not an easy fix, but it looks good. Traditional Repair with Body Filler This method is really much like the finish glazing technique with just a few exceptions. The main difference is that you need to remove the paint to the metal, and that your grind ought to be very coarse. Clearly anti-corrosion coating is an issue under these conditions. Very big dents cannot be repaired this way.
  4. 4. Traditional Heat Repair For automobiles with bigger dents and older cars made of thicker metal this is the method your auto body shop will have to go with. This technique uses heat, generally an oxyacetylene torch, to raise the metal. The technician heats up the metal surrounding the dent in a spiral motion working from the outside moving inwards; this will raise the metal. Next, to relax the metal, the technician taps with a hammer. Finally, he or she tests the metal to find out if it's level to see whether the dent is gone. After the metal cools, it is time to feather edge the paint, prime, block, and paint the metal again. The primary advantages here are that this method is the only one that works for thicker metals and larger dents, and that for proficient technicians it is quick and fast. It also eliminates the filler and sanding filler steps. However, as most auto body shops will warn you, newer vehicles aren't always able to take this method because they are made of thin metals that can warp. The Bottom Line Unless you really know what you’re doing, repairing hail damage is not an easy feat. The good news is that hail damage repair is most likely covered by your insurance. Since average hail damage repairs range between $2,500 and $3,500, and can often go much higher, it is well worth making a claim for the repair. If you'd like a professional opinion on your hail dented vehicle, go to Jungerman CARSTAR in St. Peter's, MO. They've got lots of experience using all of the latest dent repair techniques.