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Oh Hail!

For someone who loves to drive and prides himself on keeping his car immaculately clean inside and out, what happened on May 15th of 2022 was a devastating blow.  If you previously read my post on driving out to California to deliver the doll house my sister and I had been building for her grandchildren, you know that as I was driving over to my sister’s house in northwest Arkansas to begin that cross country trek, I was caught in the most severe hailstorm I have ever been caught in of my entire 50 years of driving.

As I was driving west on I-40 at highway speed, the storm blew in from the southwest.  As it first started coming down, it seemed like hard snowballs hitting my car.  But quickly, it really started coming down harder with larger hailstones that sounded as if a full-roster baseball team was going at my car with all their bats simultaneously.  With nowhere to find cover and with no way to outrun it, everyone, including myself pulled off to the side of the rode to wait it out, watching the hail begin to cover the road.  We were just sitting ducks.

While inside the car during the storm, I could not see all the dents that my car incurred but once out of the storm, I was able to pull into a rest stop to assess the damage—it was extensive, to say the least.

What I saw was that the hood,



 and the entire left side of the car had taken the brunt of the hailstones.

To give you an idea of the force of these ice balls it only takes a glance at this dent in the driver’s side A-pillar, a structure engineered to support the entire weight of the car in the event of a rollover accident.

I knew I was actually quite blessed upon seeing this as had the large hailstone that caused this dent hit just two inches over towards me, it would have absolutely shattered my entire windshield right in front of my face.

Because my trip out west was 10-days long, it was not until I returned to Memphis on the 24th that I could actually begin the process of repairing my car.  I had filed my insurance claim while on the trip, so I already had the name of a body repair shop to take the car to.  But when I arrived there, I was told they had such a backlog of work, that they were booked out for the next six months.  More back and forth communications with the insurance company identified another shop to try.  I never thought I would be happy to learn that their backlog was only about three months caused by the pandemic-prompted shortage of workers and replacement parts.

They explained that for hail damage, this type of repair involves PDR (paintless dent removal).  I was relieved that they were not going to have to cut body panels off and replace them, as from my experience, a car is never the same afterwards.  The technician took numerous photos and then categorized the dents as “nickel’, “dime”, and “quarter” sizes.  When I was given the $4,000 estimate for the repair, I discovered by their count that my car had incurred more than 300 direct hits.

Obviously, with this type of damage, the car was still drivable but considering that the windshield crack had grown larger over my trip back from Arkansas, this could not wait 3 months.

Fortunately, I was able to get this replaced the day after Memorial Day but for June, July, and half of August, I was forced to drive my car that had taken on the look of a dimpled golf ball.

When I was finally able to take it in for repairs, it still took a week before they could get started on repairs.  And when the PDR guy looked at it, he said the hood with 50 individual dents was not repairable by PDR.  His explanation was to imagine crumpling up a piece of aluminum foil and then trying to smooth it back out by hand.  It would still have a crinkled appearance no matter how hard you tried.

So, he focused on what he could repair and a week later I got a call that I could come pick it up.  The PDR guy had done an outstanding job on the roof…

… and trunk lid…

…as well as the front fender.  The body shop salesman then explained that he had to pull down the headliner and take off the interior door panels to work his magic getting on the back side of the dents.  He then said he was sorry to say that he had no idea when the hood would come in as it was on backorder with no release date.  But once it did come in, I would not have to wait in the repair queue line but could come back right away.

And, for the next four months, I drove the car with most of the dents still in it until I got a call in December that the hood had finally come in.  When I learned it would take up to three weeks to complete the repairs, I figured with our granddaughter out for the holidays, that I could not be without my car that long.  So, I arranged to drop it off the first week of January.

I said a temporary goodbye to my car on January 3rd and did not see it again until the 30th.

But when I did, I was most pleased with how it looked.  They had done an outstanding job!  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had even fixed several door dings as well as a 15-inch-long scratch on the right front fender that I had inflicted on her myself one time when pulling into the garage too close to an electric miter saw sitting on top of a wall cabinet.

I had considered asking them not to repair that huge dent on the driver’s side A-pillar to serve as a reminder of how close I had come to true disaster but in the end decided not to and I am glad I didn’t.

Since the car looked as good as it did the day I brought her home over six years ago, I decided to take one more shot of her by the lake…

…with the hope that the incurred hail damage was the worst that would ever happen to her.

2 thoughts on “Oh Hail! Leave a comment

  1. You certainly had to have patience to get through this ordeal! The car looks great, and I’m glad you didn’t ask for them to save the “reminder” either. That reminder is in your head anyway. And I’m glad you weren’t hurt either. Hope you have a great week ahead!

    • Thanks, it was a painful ordeal. It hurt every time I walked up to the car and saw all those dents. I’m so glad it’s behind me now. Hope you have a great week too!

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