Why is hail so common in the spring?
We’ll start with understanding why it hails so much in the spring. Cold air from the north often runs directly into warm air coming up from the Gulf. That warm Gulf air is very humid. As we all know, warm air rises. When it does so, it carries moisture into the clouds. Here, that moisture freezes, condensing around particles of dust. It will often fall below the “freeze line” in the atmosphere before being carried up again. This helps it accumulate more moisture and refreeze many times in a row, until the hailstones are too heavy and fall down to the ground – or onto your car.
By the summer months, the jet stream calms down again. Air higher in the atmosphere is warmer, and this means the freezing line is at a much higher altitude than it is in the spring months.
What do I do when driving?
Now you know why it hails, but what can you do to protect yourself and your vehicle when it does? Hail can be very damaging to your vehicle. Large enough hail can leave dents and even crack windshields. This poses a danger to you as a driver: it is difficult to see in most hailstorms. Seeing through rain is one thing. Even small hailstones are far less transparent, meaning that the road in front of you will be more obscured.
The best thing to do is to find some cover, such as pulling over under a bridge or driving into a parking garage. Hail storms rarely last long, so you probably won't have to delay what you're doing for more than a few minutes.
How do I cover my car?
Investing in covered parking is a good option. Shelter will shield your car from hailstones. Carports are a good option to protect your car, but they can be pricey. Less expensive options such as canopies have very little hope of standing up to hail.
An additional option is to use blankets. There are specific hail covers for cars that help protect them. Some are better than others. What you're looking for is thick padding. To this end, you can even use blankets at home. They'll need to be tied or duct taped down; winds during a hail storm are no joke. Duct tape will leave some residue on your car, but it shouldn't cause any damage to the paint.
Be aware that these blankets will get soaked and will probably be covered in bits of broken leaves afterward. Don't use your best blankets or anything with sentimental value.
What if my car is damaged anyway?
Despite your best efforts, there's still a chance that your car might be damaged by hail. Hail can be unpredictable. Even large hail can come in at an angle or shatter and hit your car after it hits the ground. Hail can also collapse a canopy or bring down branches – these can also damage your car.
Be sure to check what your insurance covers (more on that in a minute). Professional dent repair can eliminate even hail dents quickly. Do not attempt to fix the dent yourself. While it's true something that you see online may work for that person, it won't work on every car, for every dent, or on every surface. Often, DIY dent repair results in causing more damage – and that damage isn't as likely to be covered by insurance.
Professional dent repair is inexpensive and technicians can even come to your location if needed. It's less expensive and time-intensive than a body shop, which specializes in larger and different types of damage, such as post-accident repair. Dent repair is faster and better suited to fixing hail damage.
Comprehensive coverage usually covers hail damage, but not always. Be sure to know what your car insurance covers specifically. You may wish to customize it to cover hail damage if it isn't already. This should just be a quick call to your car insurance company, or a quick check online to see if you do.
If you have more questions about hail damage and your vehicle, don’t hesitate to ask the experts at Dent FX. We’re here to help! Hail doesn’t have to put a dent in your car, your plans - or your budget.