The Ins & Outs of Buying a Hail Damaged Vehicle

Hail Damaged car sale

The Ins & Outs of Buying a Hail Damaged Vehicle

In the market for a new car? Vehicles with hail damage are usually the price tag of our dreams, but what about the repairs? Let us walk you through the ins and outs of buying a car with hail damage –  so when the time comes, no detail is missed, and you are able to confidently make the correct decision!

Why do dealers sell damaged vehicles?

First, let’s remember that hail damage is almost always superficial damage – meaning that the body or glass may need some cosmetic attention, but the engine functions are still intact.  When dealerships get hit with a hail storm, the dealers will decide which vehicles to repair based on the cost of repairs vs. the profit from selling said vehicle after repairs. 

The preferred method of repairing a hail damaged vehicle is called “Paintless Dent Removal” or, PDR. This is a very technical, artistic & specific process that uses metal rods to reshape each dent. The lining of the car is removed to create access from the inside of the car. Paintless Dent Repair is the preferred method because it keeps the paint intact, therefore keeping the vehicle’s value intact as well. (We’ll go more into PDR at the end of the article). 

Dealerships will often have a contract with a company specializing in Paintless Dent Repair, resulting in a “wholesale” price for each car damaged in the storm. Each car is also covered under insurance by the dealership (just like any other owner would, including the deductible!). In rare cases, parts of the car are not able to be repaired by paintless dent repair (sometimes there are too many dents, or they’re directly on an edge, or the paint cracked in the storm or simply there is no access for the rods). When these factors add up to affect the bottom price of a car, dealers often choose to sell the vehicle as-is including damage and all! 

What to know before visiting a dealership! 

We now know why dealers will sell a damaged vehicle – most times it is because they feel like repairing the hail damage will cost the same as their profit margin on selling the vehicle after repairs. This does not mean that buying a hail damaged vehicle is a bad option, though! Here are a few topics to discuss while you’re exploring your hail damaged car buying options. 

Look around! Are there hail damaged cars throughout the lot, or just a few? If the entire inventory of a dealership has been damaged, their best option is likely to sell the damaged vehicles as is in order to lose as little profit as possible. This could put you in a great position for negotiating the price tag! 

Ask the dealer! They should be comfortable telling you why they chose not to repair the hail damage, and are selling the vehicle as is. Also ask the dealer how much they estimate the repair costs would be, even if you are not intending to fix them (it can give you a clue to how bad the damage really is). 

Check the warranty! If the dealership is not offering a warranty with a hail damaged car sale, that’s a caution flag – the hail damage on the vehicle may be more severe than it appears. A money-back guarantee or a reasonable warranty are good signs that the car is in fact salvageable, and the hail damage can easily be repaired with paintless dent repair. 

Salvage Title details! A Salvage Title is issued when an insurance company declares the vehicle a total loss (When the cost of repair exceeds the value of the vehicle.). If a salvage title is included in the paperwork, that is a good indication of a high repair cost. Each state is different, and some have a special hail damage designation, which classifies the hail damage as less severe than damage from flooding or collision accidents (that’s a great thing!).

Bottom line, the dealership wants to sell the car – with or without damage. Don’t be surprised if the salesperson gives you a beautifully low price for a vehicle with hail damage. Talk to the dealer and ask them to repair the hail damage as a condition of you buying the hail damaged vehicle (Sometimes dealerships employ a paintless dent repair technician in house, though you may receive a better price tag/quality of repair from a shop that specializes in PDR, like Capital Dent Masters.). The key to negotiation is communicating these specific points with the dealer, ensuring you get the best deal for YOU. 

Other tidbits to consider when choosing a vehicle! 

Here are a few details not to be left out when making the decision to purchase a hail damaged vehicle from a dealer:

Resale Value – A hail damaged vehicle has an impact on it’s resale vehicle. While the upfront cost of purchase plus repairs may seem like a hefty price tag, remember that paintless dent repair (PDR) maintains the value of the car! This means that repairing the vehicle after purchase will increase the resale value of a car. Similarly, a new car is a hefty price tag upfront; but as you use your vehicle the resale value drops. Research estimated resale values for the vehicles you’re looking into, and see which is the most sensible option financially for you. 

Financing – Are you planning to finance your purchase of a hail damaged car? Be sure to check with your lender and confirm that they cover hail damaged vehicles before you sign any of the dotted lines. 

Inspection – In order to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road, be sure to thoroughly inspect the vehicle. You can run the car’s VIN number (vehicle identification number) and information through an electronic background check, such as sites like Carfax or AutoCheck. Get yourself a second opinion! At Capital Dent Masters, we’d be happy to assess the damage of a vehicle prior to your purchase. Our estimates are totally free.

Insurance Coverage – Ask your insurance agent if purchasing a hail damaged vehicle will put your comprehensive insurance plan at risk. Sometimes the insurance agent will give you coverage cost for the current damage, negating your future damage coverage. If you live in a place with frequent hail storms, this might be a big factor to consider. Any hail damage that is undocumented with the insurance company will effect future claims (For instance, if you are involved in a fender bender resulting in $2,000 worth of damage claim, but you have $1,500 worth of previous hail damage that went undocumented, your insurance company could decide to only give you the difference, in this case resulting in only $500.).

All of these tidbits to consider hold a higher factor for each person, as well as each vehicle. If knowledge is power, then you can rest assured that you made the correct, financially sensible, purchase for you and your car. 

Ask yourself these questions before you buy: 

After you’ve done your research, gotten a second assessment of the hail damage, and feel confident in your choice, there’s only two more things to ask yourself – Who is getting the most out of this deal, you or the dealer? & Will this vehicle fit my needs? 

If you are looking to buy a vehicle that will get you to and from local places, for a low price tag, a hail damaged vehicle will typically fit that bill. If you’re searching for a first car for a new driver, a hail damaged vehicle could be a perfect fit. The debate to get the hail damage repaired with paintless dent removal is not clear cut, as there are so many factors that make each hail damaged car purchase just as unique and individualistic as the owner of the car! A few dents may not be a cosmetic bother to you since you do not drive often, are on a tight budget, or if you’re simply looking for basic personal transportation. Repairing the damage can be costly, which is why we always recommend having a PDR specialist technician assess the vehicle before purchase, whether or not you intend to fix the car post-purchase (We humans are fickle and are apt to change our minds as time goes on, so, you never know! And remember, it helps you assess the real damage to the car.). 

Some paintless dent removal specs, because knowledge is power. 

As of this year, 2020, the average cost of repairing a hail damaged vehicle with paintless dent repair is $4,500, but the cost of each car varies dramatically – depending on the damage. The size of each dent, where each dent is located, and the total amount of dents on each panel of the vehicle contributes to the total cost of repairs. Some metals have a memory, and will return to their original shape with guidance of the PDR rods. Other metals do not have  memory, making it much more taxing and difficult to repair. Thus, even the material of the vehicle is a factor in the total cost. Each dent can range in price from $30 to $80 on average – something you may want to keep in mind as you’re comparing different vehicles and dealerships. 

Paintless Dent Removal, more commonly referred to as PDR, is a technique of repairing dent damage to the body of a car while keeping the original paint intact. Metal rods are inserted between the panels of the vehicle, and each dent is attended to separately. The rods are used by the technician to gently massage and apply accurate pressure to each area of the dent, molding the metal back to its original shape. This technique takes years to train and master, and it is no small feat to become a specialist in paintless dent removal. Our team here at Capital Dent Masters has over 12 years of experience, perfecting our technique and customer service by working around the world (including Spain, Brazil, Italy & the United States!). With age comes settling (a bit) and family, which led us to Denver, CO 3 years ago, and we couldn’t be happier. If you’re not in the Denver area, research the shops in your area to make sure you find someone with experience, honesty, and your best interest in mind! 

Insert shameless plug… LOL 

Hey Denver! Capital Dent Masters is here to help. We hope you found this article useful, we hope you learned a few new things, and are feeling confident in your vehicle purchase decision. So if you see a hail damaged car at the price of your dreams, call us! If you have questions, would like a free estimate on a vehicle you are looking to purchase, or need help with a claim, we can walk you through it all. Our team can guide you through the repair process, including communicating with your insurance so you don’t have to be the middleman. Have a question you’d love answered? Shoot us an email at contact@cdmhailrepair.com and we just might turn your question into an article.  Have a great day, and happy car purchasing! 

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