Buying a car with hail damage, is it really a good deal?

buying hail damaged car good deal?

Hail damaged cars being offered for thousands below book value. Steep discounts. Our loss is your gain.
Could buying a hail damaged car really be a good deal for you?
But there’s a few things you need to know before you drive away. This article could save you thousands and much heartache down the road.
You’re getting the inside scoop here, because car salesman say stuff to me, the paintless dent tech, they would never say to you or in public.
“I love a hail sale!”
This I heard 20 years ago from a salesman at an auto dealership.
I asked him why.
“Because people think they’re getting a good deal, so I sell more cars. There is more commission on each unit, so I knock ‘em dead!”
Does this mean there are no good deals at a hail sale? Not necessarily.
But you do need to be aware why that car is being sold with hail on it in the first place. Let’s cover the reasons, then dig a little deeper.

Why dealers sell damaged cars

  • Car could not be repaired paintless
  • Price of repair was too high
  • Car needed combination repair, or painting along with PDR

First, the car could not be repaired using paintless dent repair. This was the case with a lot of cars from Oklahoma City and Edmond area, and the two big storms to hit the Dallas Metroplex in 2012.
After 20 years in the business, I can guarantee you this, every car that can be fixed with Paintless or PDR before sale, will be fixed.
There are companies which do nothing but travel the country and repair these hail damaged units. Sometimes as many as 20 technicians will swarm in and fix them in rapid fashion.
The fact that you are now looking at a hail damaged car that was not fixed should give you serious pause.
It still has damage for one of the three reasons listed above.
Dents can be fixed by paintless up to a certain point of damage. Too large, too deep, too severely stretched or worse yet, cracked paint, all are reasons paintless repair was not used.
PDR works excellent for dents within the range of what is repairable, after that the only right repair is with conventional auto body shop and paint.
Paint damage and conventional repairs are expensive and time-consuming. Car dealers know it is better to sell a car as is than let it go to the paint shop.
The last reason for dealer not to fix a hail car pre-sale is the price was too high. The cars perhaps could have been fixed using PDR or paintless repair, but they did not want to pay what it took to get it done.
For example, the PDR company told the manager all the cars could be fixed for $1500. Dealerships have deductibles on claims just like you do. They decided to cut their losses and sell the cars as is.
Now you are standing in front of the car and the salesman is telling you he knows you can get it fixed for $500. Maybe he wasn’t in on the negotiations with the PDR company or maybe he just wants to make a sale. This happens all the time. I see it when it’s too late, the car is already bought.
If a car is not fixed and is being sold with hail on it, caveat emptor, or buyer beware.

Hidden dangers

After considering the above and you still feel it’s a good deal and are ok with purchasing a damaged car, I support you 100 percent.
You know the vehicle’s value is affected and are fine with it. After all, you bought it at a discount, right?
Here’s a few more gotchas that could sneak up on you later.

  • Insurance coverage
  • Car vehicle damage reports
  • Future accident coverage

First, if your insurance agent is good, he’ll want to see the car when you call for coverage. He’s going to spot the hail and will give you coverage, but exclude future hail damage.
But lets say you get away with something, and he covers you without looking. After all car is brand new, right?
You’ve heard of Carfax car vehicle reports, I’m sure. They get their information from a database that is like a credit report for cars. Every car has a VIN and when an insurance company pays a claim, that damage is attached to the car from now on.
While it is used today by careful used car buyers, its real purpose is for insurance companies to keep from getting stung by fraudulent clams.
Tied to this, are future accident claims. If your car is damaged in an accident somewhere down the road, the hail damage will be deducted from the cost of that claim. Huh?
Car’s hood and fenders have $1000 worth of hail. New accident in front end is $3000 claim. Since the damage was not fixed prior, the money is subtracted off the top. Pay now, pay later.
This can be avoided if you document the repairs you make on the vehicle after purchase.

How can you keep from getting burned on a hail damaged car purchase?

  • Get an estimate up front from a reputable PDR company*
  • Remember pictures don’t tell the true story of hail damage. Only the most severe dents will show up. If you see it in a photo, its much worse in person.
  • Be ready to walk away if you smell a rat. If your tummy is tingling, probably not a good deal.
  • If you still want the car, make sure you have the cash on hand to fix it.
  • Oh, and take what the salesman told you the repairs would cost and multiply it by 4.

*Caution: often the salesman will flip you a business card and say, “This guy said he would fix for $X.” You want to check the dent company’s credentials. BBB, website, years of experience, customer reviews, etc. Finally, you want to call them to verify the price, then ask to see a repair on a car with similar damage.

Is buying a hail damaged car a good deal?

Some cars with hail damage cannot be fixed with paintless dent repair. These are often sold at a discount by car dealers.
Good deal?
There are 3 things you must consider into the real cost of a hail damaged car.
Tim Olson

isarivelan - August 23, 2015

Hi. Thanks for the article very informative. I live in Canada and planning to buy a hail damaged Honda Fit 2012 model. My friend is selling because the insurance told him that they will pay him out instead of fixing it. The damage is more on the roof, this happened just a month ago. If I buy the car I am not interested in fixing it, I will drive for few years as it is then sell for whatever price I get. My question to you is

1) Can I use this hail damaged card without fixing it? The car is in good condition so what are the problems I would be facing.

2) Can I dive this car to the U.S? Is there any restrictions in the U.S in registering unfixed hail damaged cars? Will it pass the test with registration department. As I said the car is very good only damage is because of hail and no other issues. I would like to use as it is?

3) What happens if paint starts coming out on the roof due to hail damage. Other than the appearance of the car, is there anything else I need to worry about.

Thank You

    Tim Olson - September 17, 2015

    1) you are not required to fix the car unless it affects safety or drivability. If the windscreen is severely cracked, you gotta fix that. Otherwise, you’re fine.
    3)If paint comes off, you will need to have it resprayed.
    Other than lower value, tough to sell and its appearance, you may have trouble getting insurance coverage for comprehensive.
    Thanks for your questions

Jason Elyk - July 21, 2015

Hi Tim, do you know if there are any “vulnerabilities” to a car with known hail damage? There’s 2-yr old car where I live that has a “prior salvage” title b/c of hail damage. Other than that it’s in great shape mechanically and internally. Huge price discount and low miles which is why I’m looking at it.

Are hail damaged cars more susceptible to rust or other issues (besides looking like cottage cheese)?



    Tim Olson - July 24, 2015

    Hi Jason,
    hail damaged cars are only more vulnerable to rust in areas where the paint was broken. Usually near edges, cracks can appear around the dent allowing moisture to reach the metal below. Rust will appear within a month or two so should be easy to find.
    After repair – if you do see cottage cheese or texture in poorly repaired areas, you’ll also want to check for micro cracks in the repair area. A strong magnifying glass will help you here.
    You want to take a hard look at such a new car that reaches total loss damage level. The car should have high value still and this tells you the repair estimate was also quite high.

      Jason Elyk - July 24, 2015

      Thanks Tim, checked out a hail damaged car that looked okay in the photos but had massive rust issues around the dents when I saw it in person.

jo ann - July 14, 2015

Tim, I’m considering an infinity 2005, has 102k miles on it they seller wants $6,000 had a couplr of dings in it from hail last night. Nothing major. Wonder what you think about the price with those miles. I’m buying it for a winter xarsincei can’t drive my TA in the winter in chicago.

    Tim Olson - July 15, 2015

    Jo Ann, sounds like a nice car. Only way to know if its a good deal is check the blue book price and deduct out the cost of the hail damage. Does sound like a good winter car.

Felan - June 14, 2015

Hi Tim,
thanks for the post!
Do you know a good body shop for hail damage in Denver, CO?

    Tim Olson - July 15, 2015

    I don’t Felan, sorry.
    I would look for a well reviewed Paintless Dent Repair company in your area and start there.

r crag - March 18, 2015

I found a 2009 lancer gts with 72000 miles and hail damage no broken windows but a cracked (still working) door handle, some exterior trim coming up and lots of little dents throughout hood roof and few on rear while none on spoiler. There are a few tears in the paint on hood And roof very snall not inside the dents. Car seems in mechanically perfect condition though I’m getting it checked out by a mechanic I find and pay, for 4000.. I feel this is a good offer even when putting in the factor I think I may buy a carbon fiber hood for 500 also.

    r crag - March 18, 2015

    Also title is apparently completely clean on carfax and by the salesmans word. I was worried about a salvaged title

    Tim Olson - March 19, 2015

    Thanks Ronny, sounds like a nice car.
    Just be aware those “tears” in the paint are indicators of severe hail damage that cannot be repaired with paintless methods only. You will need a paint job.
    Once you factor that in, you’ll be closer to an accurate offer.

      r crag - March 19, 2015

      Yeah, don’t think I’m too too worried about the paint I realize all warranties are null at this point, the roof isn’t too severe or easily seen, by replacing the hood I feel the car will look almost as good as new. There is rust under the scratched off paint, that’s normal correct?

        Tim Olson - March 20, 2015

        The rust is normal, since the paint crack allowed the elements to get the steel below. This will spread over time.

jim m - March 15, 2015

Hi Tim
How can you tell if PDR was done I was going to buy a used car from a rental company and noticed there were 2 small dents on roof and the right side off the head liner looked as it was pulled done because both door gasket were not push all the way back on thanks for your info

    Tim Olson - March 18, 2015

    Jim, sounds like you might have already found a couple of ways to tell.
    Truth is, if its done well and carefully put back together you won’t be able to tell.
    But yes, door gaskets, electrical grommets in doors out of place, and sometimes even holes drilled in jambs and door edges.
    Another good reason to visit a Paintless dent repair tech, since we can spot bad work super quick.

Tiffany - March 13, 2015


I’m considering buying a hail damaged car – 2007 Honda CRV, 4WD, 63,500 miles for $11,700. The auto place i’m buying it from repaired the car & now it has a reconstructed title instead of a salvage title. From the pictures, you can clearly see the dents; however, this doesn’t bother me – I do not care about cosmetic defects. I’ve bought used my entire life & never cared about this. I’m attracted to the low miles (my current vehicle has 218,000 miles) & that it’s 4WD which is what I want due to the harsh winters in PA. I’m going out to see it on Saturday and unless the paint has been chipped (I don’t want rust & think it may be too much cost if the paint is chipped), I’m seriously considering buying it. I already got a quote from my insurance company & they know about the title & hail damage & will put full coverage on it. I am going to ask them for before pictures & really grill them about the type of damage that it had but from what I can tell, it’s only dents in the roof, hood, & some on the quarter panels & the guy said it only suffered cosmetic damage. Do you think this is a good deal?

    Tim Olson - March 13, 2015

    Tiffany, sounds like you are doing the due diligence on this hail damaged car.
    I can’t tell you if its a good deal or not, since there are so many factors.
    The formula is value minus damage equals true value.
    In this case, take into account the rebuilt title and what it will knock off. Then be sure and get a real estimate for damage during your test drive.
    As to the insurance promising to place full coverage on it, this is true. Where it will sting you is when or if you have a claim. Prior damage is always subtracted from current claims.

      Tiffany - March 13, 2015


      Thank you. I do not plan on ever selling the vehicle so I’m not concerned that the value of the car has taken a hit. I keep my cars until they fall apart & even then, I keep fixing them to run because it’s cheaper to fix them than to have a car payment every month – I pay myself instead. However, I really want a crossover SUV. I’ve had one accident my entire life (been driving for 11 years) due to hydroplaning, but it happened 7 years ago & I’ve never had an another accident since then. I’m a very careful driver, but you can’t be sure of other drivers on the road either. I’m asking them for pictures of the vehicle before it was repaired & what parts they replaced. If they can’t provide this information to me, then I might pass on the deal.


Dave Zwyer - January 24, 2015

If he keeps the car forever, never gets into an accident he wins, except for the fact that the car doesn’t look good. This assumes that there is only body damage and the paint is as good as the undamaged car.

There are always different sides to a story. I have kept cars for over 20 years not getting into an accident.

Hitesh - January 2, 2015

Hi Tim,

Would recommend hail repair co near princeton, nj?


Trent - December 22, 2014

Hi Tim,
Does PDR work on tiny hail damage dents? I have about 5-10 little spots on my bonnet (Subaru Liberty) and wanted to get them fixed as I am thinking of selling.


    Tim Olson - December 23, 2014

    yes Paintless dent repair would be the smart choice for this kind of dents.

Roslyn - December 2, 2014

Is it true that if enough dents from hail are there it cannot be fixed with pdr because the metal is stretched?

    Tim Olson - December 14, 2014

    it is possible for a dent to be overstretched. This can happen with one dent when it is extremely deep or large. The number is a factor only when it comes to cost of paintless repair vs. replacing and repainting.
    You didn’t ask this, but every dent is stretched, so we shrink it to fix. Overstretching requires a different technique and your mileage may vary depending on the shop or technician.
    You will want the opinion of a PDR tech or specialized shop to tell you if overstretching has occurred. Paint and Body shops are not qualified to tell you since they don’t do the work, but outsource it.

      Kasey - December 15, 2014

      We just bought a 2013 ford fusion from a ford dealer in Kansas. We get the vehicle home and a couple days later, when the sun was finally out, notice the car has hail damage. We take it to get an estimate and it’s $7500 to fix. We contact the dealer and they admit they forgot to tell us about the hail damage. We tell them we don’t want the car. They want to sell us another car and we don’t want another car. They offered to take $ 500 bucks off. Umm nope. What do we do? They showed a clean car fax but that’s because it was a rental car that received the hail damage on the ford lot. Any advice would be great. We paid $17000 for this car.

        Tim Olson - December 15, 2014

        sorry to hear this happened to you. I can only imagine how you are feeling right now.
        Since laws vary state to state, I recommend consulting an attorney. Ask them up front what their fee will be, should be able to tell you.
        Your recourse where I live would be limited because it is a used car, but again, worth finding out the laws in your state.
        Just a side note, $7500 is a high number for damage you did not notice at first. Could this be a body shop estimate?
        Find a good pure paintless dent repair shop and see what can be done there.

Sarah - November 30, 2014

hi Tim, could you please recommend me some good reliable company that fixes hail damage car in Brisbane near Windsor 4030.
Thank you

    Tim Olson - December 14, 2014

    Hi Sarah, I sent you a contact with lots of experience.

      Jo - January 13, 2015

      Hi – I’d also be interested in a reputable contact in the Brisbane area (4064) if possible? Need to get a PDR quote for a hail damaged car before I go ahead and buy. Thanks!

Leenard - November 21, 2014

Hi, I just bought a car which has some hail damage at $9500 two years ago. Recently I just want to repair the car and the agent estimate it would cost $2000 to repair the car. I am not sure if that is worth to repair. Because I may sell my car when I graduate. I am not sure if the price I sell will add $2000 more when I sell the car.

    Tim Olson - December 14, 2014

    It depends on how fast you need it to sell.
    The pool of buyers willing to drive a hail damaged car is smaller, which means it will take longer to sell.

Ryan - November 12, 2014

Hi Tim,

I am in a dilemma right now. I am looking at a brand new Mazda3 with hail damage. The dealer says they will fix the car and add back in $2200 to the $5000 they are discounting the car. The sales manager told me that by having the dealer repair the car nothing would ever show up on the car fax. Is this indeed true or am I being scammed?


    Tim Olson - December 14, 2014

    Hi Ryan, it is likely that the car might not show up in carfax due to the way insurance pays on fleets. Often it is a blanket settlement for the whole lot.
    But it is still a risk.
    Your biggest concern is whether the factory paint warranty is still in effect. It likely is not.

Emily - October 29, 2014

Hi! Great article, you really brought up some stuff I never thought about. I am currently looking at two hail damaged cars. First is a 2013 Chrysler 200 limited with 7k miles for $10,000. Blue book mint condition was $17000-$18000. I plan on paying cash and keeping this car until it’s dying day. The hail damage is pretty bad. Lots of little dents, no paint cracks and the windows are all perfect. I don’t care about the cosmetics of a car I just want something that’s going to last me. Would this be a good buy? The other one I am looking at is a 2013 Honda civic coupe with 12k miles. $10000 as well. This one the back window had broken but has been replaced. The back window speaker covers have some damage and the dents are all over but again no paint cracks to be seen. It blue booked at $18,000 in mint condition. I don’t drive very much and plan on only having liability insurance however I noticed your comment about insurance companies deducting the price of hail damage. Do they do this if someone were to hit me and be liable for the accident? Thanks for your time

    Tim Olson - December 14, 2014

    Hi Emily,
    since there are many factors, I can’t tell you if a car is a good buy. I can only do the math which is current value minus real damage estimate equals real value today.
    The rest is personal preference.
    To your last question about insurance deducting damage. Yes, if they are paying for current damage to a car with previous damage, they will subtract out the previous. They are only on the hook, or liable for current accident. Any pre existing damage is someone else’s to pay for.

John Russ - October 23, 2014

Thank you for putting this info out there. Can hail damage affect the ride or how the vehicle drives? Can it damage the frame or underbody?

    Tim Olson - December 14, 2014

    hail is cosmetic only in most cases. In severe events it can break out the wind shields and then destroy the interior.
    To affect the suspension would require biblical sized hailstones of about 40 lbs. each.

Lee - September 7, 2014

Might be buying a 2010 suv that had hail damage that was repaired under 40,000 miles the dealership(shop) is getting an inspection this week. It is a good price that the car dealership that sells part as well as repairs cars got from an auction.. Think they are trying to get new vin number for vehicle. It seem to be a good deal but if my insurance won’t cover it that has me thinking…..is it really a good deal?

    Tim Olson - September 8, 2014

    Hi Lee,
    if your state uses tag agencies, might be good to visit with an agent there. Especially someone with lost title experience.
    The VIN stays with the car for life and can’t be changed. Perhaps they meant new title? Salvage title, perhaps.
    Don’t forget the extended test drive to have it inspected. Then its just math.
    Book value minus repair cost equals today’s true value.

      sai - September 23, 2014

      Hi Tim,

      We found a few hail affected BMW cars on sale in Reading, PA in the last couple of months, found the prices really attractive. Is it better to buy a hail affected car with no mileage or a used car with mileage. What are the possible complications we could expect in future, is it a fair deal..Could you please guide us.

        Tim Olson - October 7, 2014

        Hello Sai,
        a new car with hail vs. a used car with hail is going to be the same issues listed in the article.
        To know if you have a good deal or not requires math and some legwork.
        Take the car to a PDR shop and get a real estimate.
        Deduct this from the blue book value and you will arrive at a fair asking price.
        Anything above this and you are losing money.

Tiese rocillo - August 19, 2014

Please help me Tim, I meet an elderly lady that is ready to sell her car since her husband has passed away. It is a 2004 Chrysler 300m special. It has 48000 miles or a little under that. After I meet her today and drove it to my home my husband and I noticed small hail dents on hood and roof and such, not bad but clearly hail. She is not willing to negotiate one dollar under 6000 with is book price. Even after I said no one told me it has hail damage. So hard to walk away givin the rest of the car and the miles on it. My stomach is in nots as to what to do. My stepdad is also loaning the money to me that I will have to repay. Any solid advice is grealy approciated. Thank you for your time as well

    Tim Olson - August 19, 2014

    HI Tiese,
    wow, you found a really low mileage car there.
    But she does have it priced at excellent condition value according to Kelly Blue Book.
    I cannot tell you what to do here, but I do empathize with the feeling you have. Those knots in your tummy are natural and it comes from fear of loss. You are afraid if you don’t snatch it up, someone else will.
    Truthfully, they might.
    Perhaps you could detach for a moment and pretend you are a friend offering someone else advice about buying this car.
    After looking at all the facts, would you still advise them to buy?
    Getting a real estimate on the damage is the only true way to know what it would cost to fix, and I always recommend this.
    But lets plug in a number, say $1000 damage. This car has an aluminum trunk and hood so this might be in the ball park.
    Math says: Blue book price 6000 minus damage of 1000 equals 5000 dollars.
    What advice would you give your friend if you knew the above?
    In negotiation the most powerful thing you have is walk away power. When a seller with a clear mind sees they might lose you, then they will budge even when they say at first they won’t.
    The seller in this case is emotional about the car, because it reminds of her dear loved one. You may not be able to break through this emotional barrier, but the length of time trying to sell often does.
    The kindest thing you can do is, get a real appraisal for paintless dent repair, then make her an offer and hand her the keys.
    “It is a really nice car. I can offer you x because of the hail damage. Here is my number, please keep it. If you still want to sell, please give me a call. I am looking at other cars, but I really like yours. Hope to hear from you soon.”

      Tiese rocillo - August 20, 2014

      You are a doll! And I so thank you for your truthful honesty. A few years ago I gave her my number just meeting her in a parking lot and said if you ever want to sell it please keep me in your thoughts. Well I got that call a few weeks ago. She even had several other phone numbers her son in law told me but all were lost except mine. The car is beautiful. I did see it without hail damage so I was taken back by it and I know it was a resent storm. I also was taken back by her unwillingness to budge even 500 dollars.

        Tiese rocillo - August 20, 2014

        Her son in law runs a car dealer mechanic work and has offered to at any point if I wanted to get the hail repaired. I really was set back by her not coming down and so I did have a set ballpark in mind prier to meeting her I guess. I figured 5000. Really because I had put the wrong info in the kbb as I didn’t realize it was the special edition. I would tell a friend they got a good deal but I would also notice the tiny dings lol the miles are hard to ignore and has only had them as the owners bought new 10 yrs ago. I always thought about that little old lady and that beautiful black car but never thought she would remember me. I keep my cars till they die so a low mile car that I can afford is hard to find. I have a 2000 300 and has 192000 and our also every day driver 1987 f150 with over 35000.00 miles on the original chassis so we clearly keep our cars for life! That is a blessing and a curse lol

crystal - August 12, 2014

Hi Tim,

Im glad to have stumbled on your video and blog. This is really very informative. I saw a good deal on cars.com for a 2008 mazda3i and we went to look at it. Turns out it is a hail damaged car. The dents are not very noticable though. It is is being offered for $7995 with 51k miles. We put a refundable reservation fee on it but have not purchased it yet. Do you think you’d be able to assess if it is a good deal or not and if it is repairable with PDR? Pictures are here:

Thanks again!

    Tim Olson - August 12, 2014

    Hi Crystal,
    looks like they are offering right at the fair condition price. The photos are pretty good, but photos are also good at masking hail damage. I see some dents in hood, but this car has a roof that is easily damaged and will often look worse than rest of the car. Without a real estimate, you are at a disadvantage.
    If it is an individual seller, he or she should have an idea what the damage is if they filed a claim. I would ask.
    Beyond this, I can’t help much.

      crystal - August 13, 2014

      thanks for the response Tim!

bridgett white - August 6, 2014

and I need a car because I a because I am disabled and thank you for all the information and thank you for all the information I received receive than thank you

Cindy G. - August 6, 2014

No I haven’t made up my mind. I just don’t care about if it looks perfect or how resell is, I was asking if I missed any other issues.

    Tim Olson - August 6, 2014

    the question you want to ask yourself is this:
    If I leave the lot in this hail damaged car and someone runs into me, do I have the cash in the bank to make up for what the insurance company deducts from the claim for previous hail damage?
    As long as you know the risk and have the cash to cover it, then it can be a good deal for you.

Cindy G. - August 5, 2014

Guess what, I don’t care if the hail damage is repairable or not. As long as their are no cracks in the paint. I don’t care what the resell value is because I plan to drive it till it is dead or close to it. If I am in a wreck I only want insurance to pay for what was damaged in the accident. So any thing else I need to be concerned about?

    Tim Olson - August 5, 2014

    Hi Cindy,
    sounds like you have made up your mind and I applaud your diligence.
    Thank you for commenting.

Joseph Kim - August 1, 2014


Thank you for giving me very useful information. I also need some helps.
Actually I bought a 2011 Hyundai Elantra GLS, 28,629 mi. hail dented from Copart auto auction. It’s $5,100 and has the own certification of salvage as the state of Pennsylvania. It can be driven, but the back window needs to be repaired. It will be delivered next Thursday to me. As a individual buyer for personal use, this is first time to use a junk or salvage titled car. When I check auto vin number through Car-fax, it is reported as a junk and salvage titled car. How do you think about my auction? And there are many hail dents.. Can them be repairable? As final, after I fix my all dents and some can I get the inspection to transfer the title to another salvage title like rebuilt title or reconstructed to drive it if there is no any problem? Is it available to transfer the title or change the title to another salvage title to drive. I am confused about whether I am fine to deal with this work as a individual, but not a dealer. Please help me…

    Tim Olson - August 5, 2014

    Hi Joseph,
    I cannot comment on your purchase being a good deal or not.
    Each state deals with salvage titles in a different way. If you have tag agencies in your state, I would call one and ask for help.
    It is likely you can accomplish much yourself without being a dealer.

To buy or not to buy.... - July 28, 2014

Hey Tim,

I’m hoping you can help me judge whether I’m getting a good deal or not. I recently found a 2013 Audi A6 for sale for ~$31,000. It has hail damage on the hood, trunk, and roof and small chipped paint at 2 places (door frame and some where else–I forgot). It has 15k miles and seems mechanically sound from my test drive. The interior is in practically brand new condition. The car was a lease and was turned in after a year (due to the hail damage). The carfax doesn’t show hail damage however.

I did a search of used 2013 A6’s within 75 miles of where I live and found that the only ones priced as low as this had over 90k miles. At face value this seems like a good deal (orig MSRP was $51,000), but I’m not sure if I should be negotiating for less or passing on it altogether. The sales manager “guesstimated” the cost of repair at $4000-$5000 by a PDR shop and $10000 if I went through a body shop. Thoughts?

    Tim Olson - July 31, 2014

    Hi Jonathan,
    thanks for your question and comments.
    The only way to know for sure is to take the car on an extended test drive during which you need to go around to some PDR shops and body shops to get a real estimate.
    The 2 different prices from the salesman tells me its pretty bad damage.

Mann - July 24, 2014

Thanks a lot for the information!

sharon smith - July 11, 2014

Tim, have questions re hail damage cars..would it be more feasible to buy a “new” no mileage hail damaged car or “used” with mileage and hail damaged car? if I am looking at this correctly and see trade in value would be say 33,000 dollars and car has 10,000 dollars damage, would a fair price be 25,000 dollars to offer, taking into consideration the cost to repair…that said, the same scenario for new and used cars, which would make more sense….I am leaning towards the used car, only because it would be even less money. also, if car dealership has received the cost for the hail damage, wouldn’t you think, the dealership should sell the car for their cost less the cost of insurance received on the car.
I know of a Mercedes benz ml 350, 35,000 miles on it, trade in would have been $26,000…now hail damage on everyside except passenger side, the dealer also has same vehicle for sale “no damage” for $33,000…yet they are wanting at least $25,000 for the damage vehicle…I am saying I would offer $19,000 (trade in 26,000 minus 10,000 damage and 3,000 profit)…am I wrong to think this? thank you for your help.

    Tim Olson - July 12, 2014

    Hi Sharon,
    whether you buy a new or used hail damaged car, you will have same issues down the road. Harder to sell, won’t receive full compensation in a collision, etc., as stated in article.
    Why doesn’t dealership give full amount off for damage? They still have to make a profit. We don’t know if they bought car with damage or it happened on the lot.
    A better question is $10,000 in damage an accurate number? You must take the extended test drive to either a dent shop or body shop to get accurate numbers. Even if you never plan on fixing it.
    Once you know this you can negotiate with confidence.

      Sharon Smith - July 15, 2014

      Thank you Tom for your quick response. The car is from a Mercedes Benz dealership lot, we had a hail storm and hundreds of cars were damaged. I believe dealership said 450 cars. Looking over the cars which were moved to another area, I found several brand new ones which I would be interested in. However, the dealership will not tell me what the damage estimate was. They are going to have them all inspected with new inspection sticker, then slowly list them.

      I spoke with my insurance company and they are questioning why they would not be upfront with providing the insurance estimate. They feel the dealership is not being honest. This is a dealership that has been in our area for probably 30 or 40 years, now the son is running it. So I felt it is a reputable dealership. Also my insurance company said I could not get comprehensive or collision coverage on it. The car 2014 ml350 was new at 53,000 b4 the hail. The dealership is selling this car for 35,000. Since I will be financing this car, I may not get the finance due to the comprehensive/collision coverage, and I would not want to drive a car without such coverage. I felt I would get the hood fixed and eventually the other sides, all but one side has damage. Since it is a new car, I feel I would hold onto it for probably 15 years. I am just trying to see if this is something I should still pursue or if at the end of 15 years, this car will not be worth anything, or such a small amount, that buying this damaged car is truly a loss. I never owned a Mercedes, but felt this might be good deal. Your thoughts please. Thank you for you time.

        Tim Olson - July 17, 2014

        Hi Sharon,
        I can’t decide for you of course. I do wonder if the pool of buyers for a hail damaged Mercedes might be even smaller than any other car.
        I prepared a video for you above, which will help you to know what you face when buying a hail damaged car.

Linda - July 6, 2014


My 2003 automatic Toyota Echo with 140,000 was totaled in a hail storm. The insurance company will give me $4800 for it or they will subtract $1600 if I want to keep it and fix it. To replace the glass will be approximately $900. I won’t fix the hail dents. At this point, I just finished graduate school and am looking for work–so, I need to either keep mine or find something under that price until I get a job. I have friends who also had their car totaled and they are offering to sell it to me. It’s a 2006 5-speed Toyota Corolla with only 65,000 miles on it. They’ve already fixed the glass and will let me have it for $2400 + it will cost around $500 for tax, title, and license. I’m looking at this as a car to last me a year or so until I can upgrade. Any thoughts on which car would have more value? Maybe neither?

Thanks! Linda

    Tim Olson - July 6, 2014

    Hi Linda,
    tough choices there, but all good outcomes.
    You could be in a newer car with less miles and have some cash left over, but it is a standard trans.
    Or, keep what you got, fix the glass and still pocket (less) cash.
    Your question is about value and I bet you can see the insurance company is telling you the Echo is worth 1600 while your friends want 2400 for a less mileage, newer car.
    Either one is going to be tough to sell with the damage, since the pool of buyers is smaller.
    Also since you have broken glass, you may also have cracked paint near edges. These will start rusting soon, making it less desirable to next buyer. Go ahead and put clear nail polish on these cracks to delay the rust.
    One other point to consider is the marked title. In Oklahoma a car that has been “totaled” is given a salvage title. Check the regs in your state.
    You could avoid this by keeping your car (in some cases), but the Corolla will be re-titled so it could be marked. (Please consult a local tag agent or specialist as I am not expert in these areas.)

CIndy Newendyke - June 28, 2014

My husband I were about to sign papers to purchase a new car today. I noticed two dents in the chrome and mentioned them to the sales manager. He said they would fix that no problem. I asked if the car had been hail damaged. He went and got the file and showed the H on the front of the envelop and said yes it had. They had repaired it. We negotiated a price on the car thinking it was new, I took it home for a test visit in the evening. The next day in the sunlight, I noticed the dents just before signing. My husband is upset that they did not disclose the information. They said they would have before we signed. I highly doubt it unless it was to sigh a hail waiver form that it had been fixed. Are wrong to feel misled??? Should they have offered a discount up front on this car. They did search their inventory for another car identical to the one we were going to purchase that came in after the hail storm and showed me the invoice date etc. We left without purchasing for now. They lost my husband’s trust. What are your thoughts. Do they need to disclose the damage on a new car if they fix it prior to sale???

    Tim Olson - June 28, 2014

    you have a good eye! This was very discerning of you to catch the damage and look even closer at the car.
    I can appreciate how you guys feel misled, as well you should.
    There may well have been a hail waiver for you to sign at some point, but presenting it at the end is not good practice.
    Hail damage on some makes of brand new cars voids the paint warranty. If this were the case, a disclosure would be required.
    But if the factory doesn’t know about the hail damage, disclosure may not be given.
    I’ll give my own disclosure here and remind all I am not an attorney and it is best to consult one when needed.
    Damage disclosure laws will vary state to state as well, so where you live matters.
    Trust is everything and if a salesman is worth his salt, he would tell you up front. Really, he would have gained a higher level of trust from you guys right away had he done so.
    It is possible he didn’t know, but if the paperwork was marked, likely the car was too.
    Your post is appreciated and is a good cautionary tale for those buying new cars.

pck - June 24, 2014

Looking at a 2011 Sienna for my wife. 20K miles, very nicely kept car. Salesman tells me that the vehicle had hail damage and most of it was repaired. When I looked at the van, I could find no evidence of prior hail issues. However, when I asked them to install the roof rack crossbars, I was told that the hail damage which occurred from the sunroof toward the rear of the vehicle (essentially the roof space between the roof rails) was not repaired. Went and looked at it again. With the light just right, I could see the damage. The vast majority of the dents on the roof I could not even feel with my fingertips.

In your opinion, does this type of ‘minor’ hail damage affect the durability and longevity of the paint on the roof?

    Tim Olson - June 24, 2014

    Hi pck,
    your question ‘does this type of hail damage affect the durability and longevity of the paint’ is a good one.
    Ultimately, I would recommend an extended test drive during which you run it by a PDR shop or auto body shop. We offer this free of charge here in Tulsa, and I hope folks in your area would too.
    Second best is for you to make this inspection yourself inside a garage or shop. Look for areas of damage near edges or on the ribs of the roof. Any dents closest to these areas can crack paint on impact. This will show up as lines which can sometimes catch a fingernail when rubbed across. But not always. Sometimes they are so small they only show as tiny white lines.
    If no paint cracking has occurred, the paint should hold up fine for years.
    But again, please don’t skip the inspection.

RamK - June 9, 2014


Is it a good idea to buy a used car that has a dime sized hail damage. Thinking of buying one. hence the question.


    Tim Olson - June 10, 2014

    Hi RamK,
    if you like the car and can live with the hail, it could be a good deal for you.
    Just be aware the previous owner was likely paid for it by insurance. So you should be able to get it at a discount.
    How much of a discount depends on the damage.
    Tell the owner you want to have the car checked out and find a good local PDR company to give a true price for repair.
    Then you will know what the discount should be.

Michelle - June 8, 2014

My car was in a recent hail storm. The damage was assessed at $15-17K. Insurance company left it up to me if I want to fix it or have them deem it a total loss, as the numbers are close enough to do so. Its a 2013 toyota highlander with 14K miles. How do I assess the loss in value if I decide to fix the car? Is it a bad idea to keep the car? I love the car but it may not economically make sense.

    Tim Olson - June 10, 2014

    Hi Michelle,
    lots of things to consider here.
    There will be a measure of diminished value once the car is fixed, but you should also be compensated for this by your insurance company. They don’t want you to know this, so you need to be ready. To figure the DV take a look at this diminished value calculator.
    Keeping the car should be fine if the shop you choose is reputable and offers a lifetime warranty.
    Once fixed properly, and you are compensated properly, there should be no downside to keeping the car.

Susan Vance - June 7, 2014

I’m trying to get some prices on F150 or 250 pickups damaged at Woodhouse, but haven’t been able to find anything. Is there a site or blog or even comments from someone who’s been there?

    Larry Bell - June 8, 2014

    I went up there Friday….There were so many people shopping the police had 1 lane of the road blocked off due to the backup of just trying to get into their parking lot. I left and will try this coming week during the weekday

    Carlos - June 22, 2014

    I had the same trouble getting prices too and no salesman really felt that anxious to help either. They told me go look at what I want and come back to them with a car number and they’ll ask the manager. I think they’re playing with people and they know what they’re marked down to but really want you to make an offer first. I’m going back Monday to get better answers. I hope that this is a good investment. I’m not worried about the dents and would just pay to replace the broken windshields and mirrors and lights. The rest i can live with. I think for being a brand new vehicle for lower price with hail damage it wouldn’t be bad.

      Larry Bell - June 22, 2014

      I went up there the week after….sat there for 3 hours…..CASH BUYER….Still walked out and could N EVERY get them to give me a price….not even a HIGH Price….NO Price at all…..It is like they don’t want to sell any of the cars.

        Carlos - June 22, 2014

        I’m going as a cash buyer too but I hope that I have some better luck this coming week. The guy was really pushing me to go the financing way because then they can get paid better commission. What an idiot. I will take cash in hand to she them I’m serious.

chuck petterson - June 6, 2014

Big time hail damage at Woodhouse in Blair, Nebraska earlier this week. Looks like everything on the lot (one of the largest dealerships in the country) was wiped out. A point not mentioned here is that vehicles with extreme damage lost most, if not all of the glass and the interiors were soaked with hail melt and follow on rain. Can you spell “electrical gremlins” for all of the seat controls, interlocks, etc., etc.?

The wife could use a new Town and Country, but I have re-thought the prospect of getting a “marked-down” dimple baby.

    Tim Olson - June 7, 2014

    Good point Chuck!
    In addition, when a car is damaged this severely, you will see lots of areas near or right at edges of panels where paint has cracked and will soon corrode.

Larry - June 5, 2014

I am thinking of buying a new one. I stormchase, and get hail hit all the time….so the dent/dings don’t bother me. My current vehicle is 3 yrs old and has 102,000 miles on it.

I am looking at it as the motor is still brand new….the interior is brand new….and the first storm I chase with it, is going to look on the outside like it does now…..

Now the question for me to ask to ya’ll……….what kind of discount pricing do dealers really offer for hail damaged new cars?

I live in Omaha and one of our dealers had 4500 vehicles hit by baseball sized hail.

    Tim Olson - June 7, 2014

    Larry, a pre-damaged car sounds perfect for a storm chaser!
    I don’t know the discount levels, but the dealer has a deductible either per car or a blanket level for the lot.
    They still need to make a profit, plus incentivize the salesman to push the damaged cars instead.
    Still could be a good deal for someone like yourself.
    Just watch for areas of broken paint. Lightning bolts will love the exposed metal.

Courtney H - May 27, 2014

Hi Tim
I’m looking at buying a 2014 Subaru Forester with 28k miles on it that has hail damage. It’s not visible at all in photos, and I plan on going in to look at it at least. They are asking $17991 which is about $6k under what it would be worth blue book for the model. It’s really tempting because I would never be able to afford one new (even the 2010 listed at 68k miles is $22k). I really like this car because of it’s top safety rating. Is there ever a time you WOULD recommend buying one with hail damage? Are there any other cons other than the cost to repair the damage and the deducted cost of future damage?

    Tim Olson - May 30, 2014

    Hi Courtney,
    the only time I would recommend buying hail damaged car is when its me and I fix it. I really love Subaru’s, can you get me that phone number?
    Seriously, if you have weighed the risk, can live with the damage and its worth it to you, then go for it.
    This article is only to emphasize that the discount you get is always out there, taking some value away.
    Your last question covers it, with the obvious lower value if you decide not to fix it.

DOctor - May 22, 2014

Thanks a million.

I live in South Africa and I was about to buy a hail damage car but after reading this article, I now know better and I don’t think buying a hail damage car is an option for me. Thanks again!!!

Kushal Thapa - March 29, 2014


I am in process of buying a new car that is hail damaged on the hood. I don’t know if this is in the carfax report or not. Are you saying that if its not, I should notify the insurance company while getting insurance?

    Tim Olson - March 30, 2014

    Hi Kushal,
    thank you for this question. You are not obligated to disclose the damage so use your own discretion here. Just know the risks going in.
    If you’re never in a collision, it might not ever come up. If you file a claim in the future, it can be a problem whether the damage was reported on Carfax or not.
    As played out in the scenario in the post.

Mark - February 1, 2014

Tim, first, thank you for the great information. Second, I am currently looking at a used car in OKC and recent;y got wind that this particular dealership has in fact sold cars that have been repaired of hail damage. The problem is this type of work is usually not reflected on a Carfax report. Can you give me some tips on how to see if any body work has ben performed to fix hail damage?

Thank you

    Tim Olson - February 14, 2014

    Mark, great question.
    To find bodywork, run your hand along the back edge of the hood. It should be smooth and glossy feeling. If you feel a line or any roughness, its been repainted. Same will work for the trunk.
    Other panels are tougher, but the door jambs will also tell you. Again, should be smooth inside to out. Any lines or texture differences are a tell tale sign.
    This happens as the paint is sprayed, and does not occur on factory finishes, since they bake it to flow out.

Linda - January 10, 2014

Thank your for being honest, this does answer several of my question and a great way to approach the sales man abou the car.

andrew - December 20, 2013

Just an additional comment.
I have the car in my possession and live in a cold cold city in Canada.
It would be 12 thousand Canadian $.

    Tim Olson - December 20, 2013

    Hi Andrew,
    I can’t answer this for you, but since you have the car, you can do a couple smart things.
    1. Get an appraisal for repairs
    2. Find the cars value without hail damage today.
    3. Subtract the repair cost from the value and determine if its still a good deal.
    You may be under estimating the cost of repairs and a true appraisal will help.
    If you still feel its a good deal, review the 4 points listed in this hail damage repair advice listed above.

andrew - December 20, 2013

I have the opportunity of buying a 2011 Mitsubishi eclips with only 3000 miles on it for 12,000.00.
The vehicle was written off in Phoenix for hail damage and it is pretty severe.
Aside from the hail damage the car is showroom.
What do you think I should do??

Suzy Q - October 1, 2013

I found a 2001 Z3 3.0i that I’m looking at buying from a private owner. Spoke to the owner today and he said the car was bought by him at auction after the vehicle was deemed totaled by insurance because of hail damage. The damage has been repaired. Now I’m wary of buying it. I’ve scheduled it for a used car inspection at the local BMW dealer. What are economic repercussions of buying a hail damaged totaled car? Thanks.

    Tim Olson - October 2, 2013

    Hi Suzy Q,
    you are wise to get it looked at before purchase.
    When a car is considered a total loss, this means the damage cost exceeded the value of the car. Some insurance companies use a lower threshold, even as low as 60% of value.
    For example, a car worth $10,000 gets $6000 damage, the car could be considered a total loss.
    The biggest concern would be the state you live in and how they treat the title of a totaled car.
    In Oklahoma, the title is “marked” and is even a different color from a regular title. This is meant to protect consumers from buying cars with less value. They even call it a salvage title, since thats what someone did, bought it at a salvage auction (usually) and fixed it for resell.
    A marked title will affect the cars value by 20 – 40% or more.
    Check the laws in your state before making the leap.

Mk - September 5, 2013

It makes me think harder on the point that Car is damaged from outside and not inside . So buying a hailed car is better than buying a used car . I am getting an offer to save about 3k on new 2013 camry that has some quite visible hails but the price is really 3k less than most of the dealers so it makes me believe its still a good deal.

    Tim Olson - September 6, 2013

    I see your point. Having a new car with a warranty is appealing. Especially with a $3000 discount.
    Since you are about to make a 20k purchase and possibly pay for years, why not spend the time to get a paintless dent repair tech to look at it and tell you the real price?
    We have seen many occasions where the discount did not cover the real cost of damage.
    Just for giggles, lets say it does have $3000 in damage.
    1. The car will always be worth less than similar models.
    2. Will be harder to sell
    3. If in a collision, the insurance will not pay full value due to previous damage.
    4. Will not have a paint warranty
    The discount seems nice, but is a cost factor that never goes away. Pay now, pay later.

Marty - August 16, 2013

Im a 10 yr PDR tech in Baton Rouge. This is sooo true! I’m glad to hear other techs putting the word out!

PDR techs vary greatly. Do some research before dropping $$$$!!!

Ant G - July 24, 2013

I was just offered this vehicle at 16K less than MSRP. This is a tough decision.

Thomas - July 17, 2013

I was about to go to Edmond Hyundai and look at some Velosters that they have $3k under MSRP…. Now I’m rethinking it :/

The salesman wont send pictures of the damage because they aren’t going to be visible by a camera (huh?).. claiming that the damage isn’t that bad.

I live almost two hours from the dealer.. not like I can just pop in, take one look and say nope.

Mike McDonnor - July 16, 2013

Buying a used car is really a risk. But in some cases you can be a winner; if you are well acquainted of the first user and if it slightly used.

car service - July 1, 2013

This article just have some good points! Buying a car with damage is just too risky. Wouldn’t go for it personally.

Donn Ovshak - June 18, 2013

I got stung, too much of a hurry and the boys at Big Red (auto sales) got me big time!

    Tim Olson - June 18, 2013

    Sorry to hear this Donn, lots of hail in Norman and OKC this year.

      eric - July 13, 2013

      Good day all,am so glad I read this article.
      I live outside the united states a friend just offered to help me buy rx 330 for 9500 dollars.
      I saw the pictures the car looked good but on googling the vin number I found out it was hail damaged.
      So I got to this site to find out more.

      Karen kennedy - July 21, 2013

      My husband just bought a Nissan from hudiburg last night. They said it was not hail damaged but when he was signing the papers, they wanted him to sign a hail damage paper. He refused to sign it and told the lady it was not supposed to have been hail damaged. She called the salesman in to verify and she asked if the truck was in the lot during the hail storm and he said no. They got it in after that but the way he said it led us to believ he was lying. Is there a way to find out for sure? He never signed the hail damage paper.

        Karen kennedy - July 21, 2013

        Hudiburg Nissan in okc that is.

        Lester T. Grif - May 18, 2014

        Well, hail damage is one of those things that really cannot be hidden. Is the car full of circular dents that are about 1 inch in diameter? If you can’t see the hail damage, the car was either not damaged or was repairable which shouldn’t effect it’s value.

Kenneth Ng. - June 13, 2013

Wow! Im glad I read this article.
The Saleman told me that this is not on the report. so Insurance won’t know it!

    Tim Olson - June 16, 2013

    Not to mention no paint warranty…
    Thanks Kenneth

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