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What Size Hail Will Damage a Car?

What Size Hail Will Damage a Car?

When you think of all the terrible things that can happen to your car while traveling around New Jersey, one of things that you might forget about is hail. Although New Jersey does not get hail as often as some other states, there is always a chance. Understanding the size of hail that can cause damage to your car is crucial in preparing for and protecting your vehicle during severe weather. Today, you are going to learn what size hail will damage your vehicle, as well as how severe that damage can be.


What are the Different Sizes of Hail?

Do hailstones come in different sizes? The answer is yes! Hail can range from very tiny to large, and that is determined by the size and strength of the storm that forms it. Here are the common categories of hail sizes:


Pea-Sized Hail

These hailstones are around 0.25 inches in diameter, roughly the size of a pea. They are relatively small and usually do not cause significant damage to most structures, including vehicles. However, if accompanied by strong winds, they can still cause minor dents on car surfaces.


Marble-Sized Hail

Marble-sized hail is around 0.5 inches in diameter. While still relatively small, they can cause more noticeable dents and scratches on vehicle surfaces, especially if they are wind-driven.

Quarter-Sized Hail

Hailstones of this size are approximately 1 inch in diameter, roughly the size of a quarter coin. Hail around one inch in diameter has enough density and mass to cause damage to a vehicle’s aluminum or steel surface.


Golf Ball-Sized Hail

At 1.75 inches in diameter, this is a relatively large hailstone that can cause significant damage to vehicles, including dents, chipped paint, and cracked windshields.


Tennis Ball-Sized Hail

Hailstones of this size have a diameter of approximately 2.5 inches, comparable to a tennis ball. These large hailstones can cause severe damage to vehicles, breaking windows and causing extensive dents and scratches.


Baseball-Sized Hail

With a diameter of around 2.75 inches, these hailstones can cause significant damage to vehicles and other structures, often requiring extensive repairs.


Softball-Sized Hail

The largest hailstones can reach diameters of 4.5 inches or more, similar to a softball. Hail of this size can be extremely destructive, causing major damage to vehicles, buildings, and other structures.


What Size Hail Will Damage a Car?

The size of hail necessary to damage a car can vary based on several factors, including the vehicle’s material, wind conditions, and the angle of impact. As a general rule of thumb, hail around one inch in diameter or the size of a quarter has enough density and mass to cause damage to a vehicle’s aluminum or steel surface. Hail smaller than an inch, as long as it is not wind-driven, is less likely to cause significant damage.


However, it’s important to note that even hail smaller than an inch can cause damage if it is accompanied by strong winds or is very dense. When hailstones are propelled by wind, their impact force on the vehicle can increase, leading to dents and scratches on the surface.


How Fast Can Hail Move?

Hailstones are formed when updrafts carry raindrops into freezing levels of the atmosphere, causing them to freeze. Once the hailstones reach a size heavy enough to overcome the force of the updrafts, they fall to the ground. The speed at which hailstones fall depends on their size and the strength of the storm’s updrafts.


Now, why is this important? As mentioned earlier, the speed at which hail falls will also influence how much damage it can cause. Even smaller hailstones can cause damage when they collide with your vehicle at high speeds. Researchers at the National Severe Storms Laboratory estimate that small hailstones, less than 1 inch in diameter, can reach the ground at speeds between 9 and 25 mph. Larger hailstones, such as those greater than 2 inches in diameter, can reach speeds of up to 72 mph.


In the event of high winds and hail, your car is going to suffer damage. Try to get it out of the storm’s path before the hail begins.


How Much Damage Can Hail Cause?

As you have seen in a previous section, the damage caused by hail is relative to its size and speed. Smaller pieces of hail may not cause any damage at all to your car, especially when there is little to no wind. You may hear it pinging off the roof of the car, but it rarely causes damage. Even if smaller hail does ding your car, these dents are usually shallow enough that DIY repair methods work.


Hailstorms with hailstones reaching two inches or larger, combined with strong winds, can cause severe damage to vehicles. The larger and heavier hailstones, propelled by strong winds, can crack paint, break windshields, and even shatter side windows. In such cases, the repair costs can quickly escalate, and the vehicle may require extensive repairs or part replacements.


Additionally, hailstorms with hailstones larger than two inches can lead to what is known as a “wind-driven hail event.” These events can be extremely destructive, similar to tornadoes, as the large hailstones propelled by powerful winds become more like missiles, causing extensive damage to vehicles, buildings, and other structures.


How Do You Repair Hail Damage in New Jersey?

When your vehicle sustains hail damage, prompt assessment and repair are crucial to prevent further damage and maintain its value. For minor dents without chipped paint, paintless dent repair (PDR) is an effective and preferred method. PDR technicians use specialized tools to gently push the dents out from the inside, restoring the vehicle’s appearance without the need for paint or fillers.


For hail damage that includes cracked paint or more severe dents, traditional auto body repairs may be necessary. In such cases, parts may need to be replaced, and the affected areas will be sanded, primed, and repainted to restore the vehicle’s original condition. It’s important to have the vehicle inspected by a qualified technician like those at Elmer’s Auto Body in New Jersey to determine the extent of the damage and the appropriate repair method.


Need Hail Damage Repair in NJ?

What size hail damages a car? Hailstones of any size can cause damage when driven by wind, but the most destruction begins at around 1 inch in diameter. The extent of hail damage will vary depending on your vehicle’s make, model, and the materials used in its construction. If your vehicle has been subjected to hail damage, don’t wait for those damages to get worse. Look for a reputable NJ body shop with traditional body repair or paintless dent repair (PDR), like Elmer’s Auto Body.


Whether you need collision repair in NJ or a few dents and dings removed, our team has your back. Call one of our four NJ locations today to set up an appointment or to learn more about our hail damage repair services.

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