An external airbag for your car

According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, approximately 250,000 cars are damaged by hail every year in the U.S. alone. The average cost of repair comes in at just over US$3,100, so what’s a person to do to protect their vehicle when rain takes the form of ice sculpted golf balls? The obvious solution – airbag the car.

Shifting the airbag from a car’s interior to its exterior was the idea of the folks at Texas-based Hail Storm Products. The company’s patented Hail Protection System is essentially a puffy car cover/airbag in one that is designed to protect from hail damage…

The cover itself is made up of two layers, the first of which straps to the wheels and under the car, with the second forming the outer protection. The cover inflates via four blowers that are powered by a small compressor that sits idle until the owner engages the defense system using a small remote.

With the ability to inflate in less than five minutes, the manufacturer claims the system can protect vehicles from hail up to the size of a softball. Once the storm has passed, the system then goes on standby and returns to its role as the Clark Kent of car covers.

In addition to hail defense, the cover also offers the usual UV protection, water resistance and breathability when not in armor mode. Installation is also car cover simple, with a few minor steps added for the strapping down and power connections.

Back in the day, I was visiting clients in Denver and looked out the window and saw a black cloud approaching – flat, ferocious and big enough to scare the average dragon. It said only one thing to me. Here comes a monster hail storm.

My client had his own car parked inside the single-car garage at his business and it didn’t look like there were any other choices in the neighborhood. I jumped in my car and headed for the nearest freeway entrance. Got on, got rolling away from the storm as fast as I could – and turned back off at the first exit I came to that obviously connected to an underpass back beneath the freeway.

Dived down the ramp and just got parked under the freeway when the storm hit. Denver suffered tens of millions of dollars of damage that day. Glass-fronted buildings had their whole facade ripped away, smashed and demolished.

My car was just fine.

But, if I lived someplace in West Texas – where there isn’t an abundance of bridges – I would buy one of these critters.