Buying a car with hail damage, is it really a good deal?
Update April 2016
Proceed with caution.
A young couple just bought this car from a Chevy dealer in Sand Springs, OK, then brought it by for an estimate. The car needs a trunk, hood and the roof will need painted as the dents were so large, the paint cracked at the edge.
Dealer told them it was $5000 below value, but there is at least $7000 in hail damage.
If you are in the market, please be sure and have the hail estimated first, using the tips found in the article below.
Article from July 2014:
Cars with hail damage 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 paintless repair methods
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.
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.