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posted: 4/20/2014 12:01 AM

Hail, harsh weather batters vehicles

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Ahhh spring. Wait, is that snow I see coming down? Oh no. Hail!

We can only hope this lousy weather is behind us and we can now get on with spring and sunny days. This is the time of year car enthusiasts get their vehicles out of storage, and those of us who drive our special set of wheels all year long try to spiff things up after a hard winter.

If you were fortunate enough to get some hail damage like I did the other day, don't panic. It can be repaired fairly inexpensively.

The process is called Paintless Dent Repair (PDR). The technician makes the repair from the back side of the metal panel by massaging the dent back out with special tools. Typically when they are done with this process you can't even tell there was a dent in that panel.

The price generally depends on how many dents and where they are, but fixing several dents usually costs less than the amount of your insurance deductible.

After you get the dents out and the car detailed, spring is also a good time to check out all of the mechanical components. This winter was hard on the underside of vehicles. Although my own truck seemed to be driving OK, I asked my technician the other day to look it over and he found a whole host of problems underneath.

I had broken sway bar links, a blown-out shock, a seized rear caliper, an axle seal leak and a pinion seal leak. Like you, I don't like having my vehicle tied up in the shop, but I don't like having stuff wrong with it either so I will be glad to have it all fixed up.

My vehicle was last looked at about 4,000 miles ago at the normal oil change interval so all of these problems happened over the winter. If all this could be wrong with my truck, don't just assume you didn't have anything wear out or break during this harsh winter and current pothole season.

Make an appointment today with your repair professional to get your baby checked over and you'll enjoy a worry-free spring and summer driving season!

• Douglas Automotive is at 417 W. Main St., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit Send questions to

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