Does a hail proof car cover exist? There is a lot of misinformation on the web and some of it is very dangerous.
Rain, snow and UV rays can all degrade car paint after repeated exposures. Hail storms only need one chance to cause severe damage that can cost upwards of $2,500 to repair. Specific cost estimates by number of dents and where dents are located are covered in detail later in this article.
Many marketers advertise “hail proof” car covers that will not protect against anything more than pea-sized hail. The problem is that no one can predict the exact size of hail stones in advance.
For those short on time, there is only one viable option for 100% protection against large hailstones if you park outdoors – an inflatable hail protection system. We provide a comprehensive review later.
For DIY-types, you can protect your car from hail, but it takes work, and you cannot be haphazard or cut corners. Please check out our article on homemade “hail blankets.”
Three Basic Strategies
As we know from our research, over 70% of cars are parked outdoors seven days per week, and 47% have endured at least one hail storm.
Protection strategies from best to worst are:
- Park indoors if at all possible. If you are caught in a storm seek temporary shelter in parking garages, covered gas stations, bank drive thrus, etc.
- If you must park outside, use an inflatable hail protection system that provides protection against golf ball and larger hail stones.
- If your car is outdoors and you don’t have a hail protection system, any extra barrier between your car and falling hailstones will help. Ideally you want a layer that protects car paint from scratches (such as a basic outdoor car cover), followed by an outer protection layer such as blankets or foam rubber mats. The trick is securing the layers so that they don’t blow off. That is why this approach is an emergency-only hail prevention strategy.
Regarding Point 3 above, never park underneath trees. Falling limbs can cause more damage than hailstones.
Where and When Are the Risks of Hail Damage the Greatest?
First, to give you some idea of overall risk, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association reports that there is usually around 6,000 hail storms in the U.S. each year. That compares to approximately 14,000 wind storms and 1,500 tornadoes.
Here is the number of hail storms, compared to other severe weather storms, by month (source: NOAA).
|Month||Hail Storms||Wind Storms||Tornadoes||Total|
Hail storms can literally happen any time. That said, the classic hail season is March through July, and after July, the number of storms starts to taper off quickly
So, that’s WHEN hail damage occurs. What about WHERE it occurs?
Let’s start with the good news. Most drivers in the Western third of the U.S. are relatively safe, averaging less than one day of hail per year.
Hail Alley, a wide arc ranging from eastern Wyoming to Texas to the Southeast, receives the most hail damage.
Although this NOAA image is somewhat dated, it does a great job of visually representing hail risk and the data are very stable over time. The numbers represent the average severe hail days per year over a ten-year period.
Using a different metric, insurance claims filed, provides a similar picture. According the NICB, the top states for hail insurance claims over a recent three-year period were:
- Texas (395k)
- Colorado (183k)
- Nebraska (148k)
- Kansas (128k)
- Illinois (121k)
- Oklahoma (98k)
- Missouri (95k)
- Minnesota (93k)
- South Dakota (75k)
- Indiana (65k)
Note: this ranking is based on number of claims filed, so it favors large states like Texas over smaller states like South Dakota.
So, what is the key takeaway? If you park outdoors, especially in Hail Alley, you need to think about protecting your car from hail for a good six months out of the year.
What Does Hail Damage Cost to Repair?
Obviously it depends on the extent of the damage. Here are a couple of views on costs from insurance companies and body shops.
The blog, First Quarter Finance, has a great breakdown of estimates by size of dent, number of dents, and location on the car. It’s definitely worth a read.
The example below is for costs to repair hood damage. For damage on the roof, estimates would increase by 70% to 100%.
|Size of Dent||1-5 Dents||6-15 Dents||16-30 Dents|
Auto repairs shops charge based on number of dents, size of the dents and if the repair is “paintless.” Paintless dent repair means the dent is carefully massaged back into its original shape and no repainting is required.
For another view, let’s look at estimates for total damage. Auto Trends interviewed a personal lines insurance representative that said damage averaged $2,500 for private autos. Note: that estimate includes broken windshields and mirrors.
The moral of the story: prevention is the way to go.
How Do You Know if a Hail Storm is Coming?
You should always check local weather reports. We promise, they’re not always wrong! Using your own eyes and ears and common sense should never be underestimated either.
Knowing the telltale signs for when atmospheric conditions are likely to produce hail can save your car. The 4 conditions to know are:
- Thunderstorm clouds must be visible
- These clouds must have a high moisture content, i.e. they look dark and rainy
- Lightning almost always accompanies hail storms
- Part of the upper cloud layer needs to be freezing, so cold fronts or sudden drops in temperature are indicators that hail could be imminent.
Another factor required is an updraft (which is hard to see from the ground). Basically, water droplets get blown up into the freezing layers of thunderstorm clouds. The more this is repeated, the larger the hail stones.
If you see these conditions, check local and national weather services and take all necessary precautions. Also continue to monitor weather updates. One characteristic of hail storms is that they can change intensity in relatively short periods of time.
How Can You Protect Your Car?
If you can park in a garage or at least find temporary shelter under some kind of structure, e.g., overpass, filling station, that is likely to be your best bet. Some people park under trees, but this puts your car at risk of falling limbs, which often do as much or more damage than hail.
The internet is full of human interest stories about how homemade hail blankets for cars allowed people to avoid serious damage. Blankets or exercise mats along with tape are common items used in a pinch.
We do not recommend this as your main hail protection strategy. It may work on occasion, but over time it’s a recipe for trouble. For example, what if dime sized hailstones suddenly become baseball sized; what about the sides of your car? Also, most household blankets will scratch car paint.
If you cannot park in a garage, car covers will help. There are two categories here.
The first is an inflatable protection system that creates a bubble around your car. When not inflated, these systems act as classic car covers protecting against dust, rain, UV rays, etc. As we noted earlier, they offer the only 100% effective protection against hail.
The other category is high quality, traditional car covers that provide protection against light hail not larger hail. Note: even against light, pea size hail, not all car covers will work….only the thickest ones.
We are mainly talking outdoor covers with 3-7 layers of material to provide extra padding. These are not truly “hail proof” car covers, as even medium-size hail would be a cause for worry.
HAIL PROTECTOR Portable Car Cover System
The HAIL PROTECTOR Portable Car Cover System is unique. It acts as a normal car cover in terms of preventing moisture and UV rays from damaging paint when no storms are present.
However, if hail storms are threatening, it can be inflated via remote control to be a hail car cover and block “any size hail” according to the manufacturer. Models exist for cars, SUVs and even trucks up to 22 feet 6 inches.
What is really cool is that this cover is remote controlled. When you know that hail is coming, just press the button (range is 100 feet) and the HAIL PROTECTOR will inflate in about 5 minutes.
This particular hail proof car cover comes with a mobile weather app that will warn you when dangerous storms are coming, which is nice because it gives you enough time to inflate the cover before the hail actually starts.
Several customer videos exist showing the Hail Protector in action.
While the HAIL PROTECTOR is a premium product, the fact that it also acts as a normal car cover certainly helps justify the investment.
The PROTECTOR does everything that a normal car cover does. It has been specially treated to ensure that it is moisture resistant so very little water gets to your car.
It also has a fairly high level of UV resistance to keep UV radiation from fading and oxidizing car paint. Also, the HAIL PROTECTOR System is designed to withstand winds up to 60 mph, which is quite impressive.
Other than that, it is easy to assemble, easy to install, durable, and it gets the job done without question.
Earlier, we provided detailed information about when and where the risk of hail damage is the greatest. If you live in Hail Alley, have a nice vehicle, and must park outdoors the HAIL PROTECTOR is worthy of your consideration.
The fact that it also functions as an everyday car cover, makes it a much easier choice.
- One of the only covers designed to protect against large hailstones
- Six different size choices
- Remote control
- Included mobile weather app
- Functions as a normal car cover
- Good UV protection
- Assembled in the U.S.
- 2-year parts and labor warranty
- Premium price
- One-time, 20 minute set up required
- Everyday installation a minute or two longer than traditional car covers.
Check out the Hail Protector here.
“Light Hail” Protection Options
The best car covers can protect against light hail, but ONLY light hail. The problem is that it is almost impossible to predict when light hail will become quarter-sized hail or the feared, golf- and baseball-sized hail.
Our advice is that if your car is at risk and you cannot afford a hail protection system, at least get the thickest, good quality outdoor car cover you can.
These will not prevent damage from medium-to-heavy hail, but they can mitigate light hail damage, especially if you can safely add blankets or other layers of protection.
What are some of the thicker car covers? Here are a few at different price points.
|Car Cover||Model||Usage||Layers of Material||Price|
Custom Fit Ultrashield
light hail damage)
light hail damage)
light hail damage)
A New Product on the Market
There is a new product on the market. We have NOT tested it. Rather, we want to make our readers aware, so that you have all available information as you research various options.
Basically, these are tarps made out of a flexible Ethylene Vinyl Acetate that provides more protection than basic car covers. These tarps cover the tops of cars and offer partial coverage of the sides.
They almost certainly will NOT provide complete protection against really large hail. Our view is that they are likely better than a basic car cover though. Please do your own research as these are new products.
Check here for SUV and larger car sizes.
Hail storms pose a real risk to residents in the Midwest and upper-South. The damage to cars caught in hailstorms can be extensive, up to $2,500.
The good news is that with a little planning and investment in a hail prevention system, car owners can limit their risk to virtually nothing.
We would first recommend assessing the real risk of hail damage based on where you live. The links to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association we outlined above are an excellent place to start.
The other considerations are your parking habits (e.g., is your car outside 24/7?) and the value of your car.
It is far easier to prevent hail damage than to repair it. If your car is at risk, a hail car cover system like the HAIL PROTECTOR is definitely worthy of consideration.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How many size options are there?
Six in total. Three for cars and three for trucks and SUVs. The options are:
- Car Size 1 (up to 175 inches)
- Car Size 2 (176 inches to 195 inches)
- Car Size 3 (196 inches to 211 inches)
- SUV and Truck 1 (up to 197 inches)
- SUV and Truck 2 (198 inches to 230 inches)
- SUV and Truck 3 (231 inches to 270 inches).
What accessories are included with the HAIL PROTECTOR car cover system?
This premium system comes with an impressive set of included accessories.
- Storage bag
- Accessories bag
- Blower assembly
- Blower blanks
- Remote control
- AC adapter
- Car power plug (e.g., “cigarette lighter” adapter)
- AA batter pack (batteries not included)
- Cinch wand
- Threading drawstring
- Waterproof cord connector
- Retracting tape measure
Can rechargeable batteries be used?
Yes, nickel metal hydride is recommended by the manufacturer.
Is assembly required?
Yes, an initial, 20-minute set up is required. The manufacturer provides an excellent catalog of support videos.
What is the range of the remote control?
According to the manual, it is 100 feet.
Can the PROTECTOR be used for snow?
Although some reviews have mentioned it works well in snow, the manufacturer notes that it is not intended for that purpose. The synthetic material is not designed for extreme cold and can crack or break down prematurely. There are plenty of good affordable options for snow.
Is there a way to lock the cover?
There is currently no way to lock the cover as it doesn’t include side grommets. Also, no locks or rubber coated cables are sold as accessories. This system is more challenging to remove and carry without a storage bag than traditional car covers. While a truly determined thief can find a way to steal virtually any day-to-day item, most thieves would find easier targets than the PROTECTOR.
How much space does the PROTECTOR take up when stored?
It depends on which size option is chosen. The range is 3 to 4.5 cubic feet. (Note: to calculate cubic feet it’s: L x W x H divided by 1728)
How long does it take to install (on a daily basis) and how does that compare to a traditional car cover?
The manufacturer estimates 5 minutes to install and uninstall respectively. Traditional car covers normally have elastic hems in the front and back, and some have included strap and buckle systems. They usually require 1-2 minutes to install and / or remove.
Will it fit in a parking spot when fully inflated?
The manufacturer notes that sizes CAR 1, CAR 2, CAR 3 and SUV 1 will typically fit in a traditional parking spot. Truck and SUV 2 and Truck and SUV 3 require more space.
If the material is cut, can it be repaired?
Very few instances of cuts have been reported because the material is very tough. It could, however, be repaired by a professional seamstress or auto interior repair shop.
Is the PROTECTOR made in the U.S.A.?
It has been assembled in the U.S.A. since 2015.
Should I spend the extra money for a hail proof car cover?
This is a matter of choice and certainly depends on your disposable budget. That said, if I had to park outdoors the majority of the time and lived in the arc from Wyoming to Texas arching around to the Carolinas then I personally would invest in a hail proof car cover, i.e., an inflatable hail protection system. Cost estimates vary but the Hail Protector averages about 10% the cost of repairing severe hail damage.