Your Car Windscreen and Hail Damage
Summer storms are often welcome because they offer a brief respite from the heat, and while any sudden downpour presents a hazard when you are driving, it’s nothing compared to getting caught in a hail storm.
Any time you are driving and find yourself in a hail storm, there is a risk of damage to your car and your windscreen, and the hail stones don’ t need to be the size of golf balls – or bigger – to inflict damage.
What to Do If It Starts to Hail When You’re Driving
If you’re fortunate, you might get a weather alert warning of a potential hail storm. But this doesn’t always happen, or it might come through when you’re already on the freeway and not in any position to exit it before the storm hits. Steps you can take to stay safe and minimise damage to your car if you’re caught in a hail storm include:
- The best recourse is to try to get under some form of cover, such as a petrol station, or undercover parking lot. Avoid stopping under trees because if the storm is severe enough, you could find your car being damaged by falling branches.
- If there is no cover around, slow down as much as possible, and try to pull over to the side of the road. A moving car tends to suffer more severe damage. If it isn’t safe to pull over, keep driving, but as slowly as possible. Make sure your headlights are on so your car is also visible to other road users.
- Try to avoid or get off roads that are busy, since you’re also at risk of being involved in an accident brought about by the abrupt chaos of a severe storm.
What to Do Once the Storm Has Passed
Once the storm has passed you should still try to get your car under some form of shelter, for two reasons: weather conditions could cause the storm to appear to double-back, and within a few minutes you are again caught in hail, and even if this doesn’t happen, you still need to check your car for any significant damage.
Many people are aware that hail can damage the body of your car, leaving dents or chipping of paint. While these are annoying and will need to be repaired, what you should actually be looking for is damage to your car’s windows, notably the back window and the windscreen. If one or more hail stones ended up punching a hole in any windows, you would notice that as soon as it happened, but a lot of hail damage to autoglass can be quite small, and hard to notice. Carefully check your windscreen and rear window for cracks and chips, and if you know of any cracks and chips that were already there, check them too to see if they appear to be bigger.
You won’t be able to drive your car if there are any holes in your windscreen or rear window, or if there are large cracks or chips, especially if they obscure your vision. It would be best to instead call an auto glass repair centre immediately to see if they can assist with mobile repairs. If the chips or cracks aren’t too big and aren’t blocking your view of the road in any way, you might still be able to drive your car, but we do recommend that you get the cracks and chips assessed by professionals as soon as possible, as any crack or chip can weaken the glass. Depending on where they are, small chips and cracks can often be repaired, if taken care of as soon as you notice them, but could call for a new windscreen if ignored for too long.