Considering Hail Damaged Cars: Is Buying a Car with Hail Damage a Wise Choice?

Big hail ice balls on car hood after a heavy hail storm

With used vehicle prices sky-rocketing and no end in sight, we are all looking for ways to save money on a purchase. While searching for a car online and you see a great deal on a new or used vehicle; the only problem is, it’s listed that it has existing hail damage. How does this happen? Should you buy it? How much would it cost to repair it yourself? How much does hail damage devalue a vehicle?

Why do some dealerships sell cars with hail damage?

Normally, when dealerships sell a vehicle with hail damage a couple of things are possible.

  1. The dealership bought a used car from another driver or from an auction that already had existing hail damage.
  2. The dealership experienced hail damage and is selling a used or new car with hail on it. Sometimes this is referred to as a “Hail Sale”.

If the dealership bought the vehicle with existing hail, they may or may not have realized it. If the car was traded in after dark or in the rain the dealership honestly might not have known it had hail at all. Normally, if the dealership does know it has hail they will de-value the trade amount in order to allow for the car to be either be fixed or sold at a lower amount.

If the dealership experienced a hail storm then they will have gone through an insurance claim process. This means, they will have been compensated to repair all of their inventory but are instead opting to sell the vehicle as-is and pocket the insurance payout.

One thing to note here, the hail damaged vehicle will probably have a clean Carfax report at the time of purchase but after 2-3 months the hail claim will show up on a Carfax. Meaning, if you buy a car with hail from a dealership (even a new vehicle) it will have a dinged Carfax report even though you didn’t file a claim. This will devalue your purchase even more if you ever resell it.

Quality Assurance

Should I buy a vehicle with existing hail damage?

This is honestly a tricky question. Usually, we advise no unless you are going to drive it around with the hail damage as it is. Hail damage is cosmetic only and does not cause any issues with driving the vehicle.

So if you’re just looking for a “point A to point B” vehicle, it might be a good fit. Just note, if you do not repair it, it devalues the car tremendously. A future owner may not share your desire to leave it as is and may not buy yours unless it’s repaired. The average hail claim with minor damage is $3,500-$5,000 with heavy damage costing significantly more (as much as $15,000-$20,000 or more).

Light hail damage, just a couple of hits, could be just enough to meet your deductible. On the other hand, heavy hail damage is extremely noticeable and could cost the same as the car’s value. If you are considering buying a car with hail damage, ask if you can take it for a full estimate for repair, this will give you an idea of the cost to repair and the price of the vehicle and see if it is worth buying it.

Remember that a full estimate needs to be scheduled and that an assessment may be all you need.  

How much will it cost me to repair hail damage out of pocket?

If you buy a vehicle with existing hail damage, the car should be devalued by the dollar amount of damages.  For example, if the vehicle is worth $20,000 but has $5,000 of unresolved hail damage, the vehicle is worth $15,000. 

But how much will this cost? Honestly, hail cost is a really dangerous thing to try to generalize. We have seen clients buy vehicles with existing damage for $5,000 under sticker price thinking they had a great deal, only to find that the actual repair cost exceeded $15,000.

Our advice is to consult with a professional repair technician before making a purchase. If that’s not an option, then we would advise you find a lit of info to help make your decision.

Find out when and where the damage occurred and try to find a shop that has fixed damage from that storm. Storm damage varies in size and severity but generally a storm in a certain town on a certain date will give a tech a lot of info to determine a price range. If you are buying a vehicle out of state, this may require you consulting with repair facilities in the local market affected by the storm, even if you bring the car home to repair.

How much does hail damage devalue a vehicle?

If hail is not repaired, as stated above, the vehicle should be devalued at at least the cost of the repair.

If hail damage is resolved and fixed, there is no simple answer if it devalues a vehicle. Minor damage is a non-evasive and relatively simple repair process for our technicians. It’s not an easy repair, but what we do every day. This damage does not typically affect your vehicle’s resale after repair, and it should really appear like it did when it came from the factory. Not all dent repair is created equal. Our goal is to make a minimal impact when repairing your car or truck. 

If there is severe damage to a vehicle, the value of the car will definitely go down. Severe damage may require replaced and painted parts. Just think of how you purchase. If you looked at two identical vehicles, one had been painted and had replacement parts where the other was all original, which are you more likely to purchase? This is what causes a severely damaged vehicle to go down in value. Most buyers want original parts and paint and will pay for it.

We hope this helps you make the right decision for you. Feel free to browse our other articles:

What if my personal car was damaged by hail?

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