5 Methods For Repairing Hail Damage…Are You Prepared For Hail Season?

by Donnie Smith

We get hit every year with hail season, which leaves many cars needing hail damage repairs.  There are several ways to repair the hail damage and we are going to discuss a few them in this article.  The last method I am going to discuss is probably the most common method used to repair hail damage when not using Paintless Dent Repair.

(1) R&R (Remove and Replace)

Many of the parts that have been hit heavy with hail damage may be replaced instead of being repaired.  Parts that may be replaced are bolt-on parts that can be easily removed such as: hoods, fenders, and trunk lids, etc.  It is usually less expensive to replace the parts than the labor it would cost to repair the parts.  Of course, there is the exception 1 or 2  random hail dents in a panel.  However, a car that has severe hail damage requires a lot of R&R (remove and replace).

(2) Hail Damage Repairs – Traditional Repair

Another way to repair hail damage is by using body filler.  This requires you to grind the repair area to metal, feather edge your paint edges, apply body filler and block sand the body filler.  Then you will need to prime, block and paint.  When using this method, care must be taken not to overheat the metal when grinding.  You may even want to use a Dual Action sander to remove the paint coatings to help reduce the heat.  I would not use anything finer than 80 grit to prepare the metal for filler.  This will assure proper adhesion.

Traditional Hail Damage Repair Steps (For small dents only.  Bigger dents may need to be pulled)

  1. Properly clean repair area.
  2. Remove coatings to metal using a grinder with 50 grit or a DA sander using 36 to 80 grit.
  3. Feather edge paint edges.
  4. Blow repair area with compressed air to prepare for body filler.
  5. Mix and apply body filler to metal repair area.  Do not apply body filler on paint.
  6. Block sand body filler with 80 grit followed by 150 grit sandpaper. (use guide coat when blocking to help find highs and lows).

Now you’re ready for priming, blocking and paint.

(3) Hail Damage Repairs – Old School (Some dents and thinner metal are not a candidate for this repair method)

This method uses heat to raise the metal.  You can use an oxyacetylene torch and heat the metal around the small dent in a spiral motion.  Work from the outside towards the center of the dent.  This will raise the metal.  Then slightly tap the high area with a body hammer to relax the metal.  Last, using a body file cross file the metal  level and determine if the dent is gone.  If there is not a dimple with paint in it, then the dent has been repaired.  As the metal cools, the high area will flatten back out to a level flat surface.  Then you can feather edge the paint, prime, block, and paint.  I have used this method to remove a lot of hail damage.  It is quick, fast, and eliminates the filler and block sanding filler steps.  However, I caution you…this is not a good method to use on newer vehicles.  The metal is too thin and overheating and warping the metal or filing too much metal off when using the body file is a few of the problems you may have.  However, if you are restoring an older car, this method works like a champ.

Old School Hail Damage Repair Steps (For restoration of older cars with thicker metal)

  1. Locate small dent
  2. Starting with about a 12″ radius around the dent, use a torch with a carbonizing flame (more gas – this produces a cooler flame) heat in a circular motion.
  3. Heat the metal until it starts to slightly move.  Then work the heat in a spiral motion towards the center of the dent.
  4. Once to the center of the dent has raised, slightly tap the high with a body hammer to relax the metal.
  5. Next, use a body file to file the top layer of metal to determine if dent is gone.  If the dent is you will see all metal in the repair area.  If there is a spot with paint, the dent is still there.
  6. Once you have crossed filed the area and it is all metal, allow the metal to cool naturally.  Do not use compressed air or water to speed up the process.  As the metal cools, it will level back to a flat surface.

Now you are ready to feather edge, prime, block and paint.

Watch the video demonstrating this method.  In the video, I did not have an oxyacetylene torch.  I used a small propane torch, which did not work as well.

YouTube Preview Image

(4) Paintless Dent Repair

PDR is heavily used for hail damage.  This is the process of getting behind the dent with tools and messaging the dent out without the need to paint the outside of the paint surface.  This method is used on many of the parts that are not replaced, such as roofs, quarter panels, bedsides, etc.  However, the tools are expensive and requires much practice to master PDR.

(5) Hail Damage Repairs – Finish Glaze (for smaller hail – large hail may need to be pulled)

This is one of the most common methods used for small hail damage when not using a PDR method and is a method easy to learn with little practice.

This last method for repairing hail damage is the method that I wanted to highlight in this article.  There are other methods, such as PDR that I may go into detail in another article.  However, if you are not performing PDR and the dents are small enough to fill with finish glaze, then this method works great.  I added a video below that will demonstrate this method.  The advantage of using this method is you do not have to remove the paint coating down to the metal.  You simply need to rough the paint with 180 grit or courser for the glaze putty to adhere properly.  It is best not to sand through the clear coat when sanding the surface.  You also want to assure the paint surface is in good condition when using this method.

The obvious advantage is the time it saves from grinding and feather edging.  However, another benefit is the factory e-coat (corrosion protection) is not removed from the part being repaired.  This will eliminate the need for primers to provide corrosion protection, as the e-coat is already providing optimal protection.  I will list the steps, then you can watch a video demonstrating this method.

Steps To Repair Hail Damage Using 3M Glaze

  1. Properly clean the areas being repaired
  2. Locate all the hail damage
  3. Using 180 on a DA, sand the hail dent areas to assure proper adhesion, but do not sand through the clear coat
  4. Blow repair areas off with compressed air
  5. Clean the surface using wax and grease remover
  6. Apply a thin coat of finish glaze to the surface.
  7. Block sand the glaze with 150 to 180 grit sandpaper

That is it, now you are ready for prime, block and paint.  Works great!

Here Is A Video That Demonstrates How To Perform This Method…Click Play To Learn More

YouTube Preview Image


P.S. Would you like additional dent repair training?  Check out my book!  This guide covers the basics to dent repair.  Eliminate many of the common mistakes when straightening sheet metal.  Visit Dent Repair Book to learn more.




  1. Make sure your vehicle is repaired to your satisfaction. Before accepting your vehicle, look at the surface in fluorescent lighting and from several angles so that you can see all the details. Check for any remaining dents before you take your vehicle home.

  2. Marco saenz says:

    I have seen your video and would like to see your method used with a acetylene torch instead. I have looked all over YouTube and could not find a video with the same process you displayed on the mustang. It would be very helpful.

  3. It is important to hail the dents or damage of a car.


  1. […] Hail Damage Repairs – How To Repair Hail Damage Without Grinding To Metal or PDR Posted on May 13, 2011 by automan| Leave a comment by Donnie Smith We get hit every year with hail season, which leaves many cars needing hail damage repairs.  There are several ways to repair the hail damage and we are going to discuss a few them in this article.  The last method I am going to discuss I have a video that will show…Read More […]

  2. […] 5 Methods For Repairing Hail Damage…Are You Prepared For Hail Season? […]

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