How to Protect Your Car from Storm Damage
Extend the Life and Beauty of Your New or Used Car
The American Midwest and South regions are known for their wicked storms year-round. Whether we’re battling heavy rains, hail, tornadoes, blizzards, ice storms, or powerful wind, our vehicles are at risk of incurring storm damage any time a new weather pattern decides to rear its ugly head — and you know that could be randomly, at any time, even in the middle of a sunny day.
To help prevent damage during storms and inclement weather, follow these tips from us, Zeck Auto, to keep your new or used car running smoothly and looking great for years to come.
Tips for Driving Through Flood Waters
The best advice for driving through water over the roadway is: don’t do it. Turn around instead, and go back the way you came or look for an alternate route. Even as little as six inches of standing water is enough to hit the bottom of a regular sedan or coupe and can flood the exhaust. Moving water at any speed could also carry your car away, no matter what kind of tires you’ve put on. It only takes a foot of water to float your vehicle.
In a flooded roadway, you won’t be able to see hazards, like downed power lines or floating debris that could damage your car and leave you in a bad situation. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you may have no choice but proceed through standing water, consider these tips for safe driving.
First, always drive down the center, where the roadway is the highest and the water is the most shallow. Continue to watch for oncoming traffic as you proceed. Drive responsibly; don’t try to speed around other vehicles. Plus, slower speeds can help prevent water from splashing into and flooding your engine.
Only cross where the water is extremely shallow. It takes just about one half-inch of water to lose control, so if the water is taller than the center of your wheels, you should not attempt to drive through it. After you’ve gotten across, dry your brakes by braking lightly while driving very slowly.
Should you find that your vehicle is floating as you start down the road, you can open your door to let flood water in. The extra weight can help to hold down your vehicle. Obviously, do not do this if you’re floating away in deep water. If your engine floods, don’t try to restart your car. Just exit the vehicle and move to a safe area.
Tips to Avoid Hail Damage
The only real tip we can give you here is to park your vehicle in a covered area to protect it from falling hailstones. If it begins to hail while you’re driving, proceed to a covered area where you can park to wait out the storm, such as on the shoulder of a roadway under an overpass (be sure it’s safe for you to pull over), or in a parking garage.
If you don’t have access to shelter for your car during a hail storm, you can use a car cover, which could dampen the way the hail hits your vehicle. However, cars can still sustain hail damage despite a cover, so don’t count on it to prevent all damage. Some people place their car’s floor mats on the windshield, roof, or hood to help lessen hail damage. Be sure to place them grippy-side down, just as you would inside your car.
And finally, stay up to date on the weather before driving. If you know it’s possible that hail may hit your area, choose not to drive your vehicle out of the protection of its garage or carport.
Driving in Tornado Conditions
Summer and early fall are a tornado’s favorite times of the year. If you’re driving and find yourself facing down a tornado, you need to act fast. Don’t try to outrun the tornado if it’s close-by. Your goal, instead, is to get to the nearest solid shelter.
If you need to do some driving to look for a safe place to shelter from the tornado, drive at a 90-degree angle away from the tornado’s path. Stay aware of your surroundings. If you can’t find shelter, and the tornado is quickly approaching, park in a low-lying area and stay in your car with your seatbelt on. Put your head down below window level and cover your head with a blanket or other cushion, if possible.
Don’t park under an overpass in an attempt to find shelter from the tornado. Winds can whip underneath them, sending debris flying straight at you. Taking shelter in a culvert or other ditch, while previously a suggested safety measure for tornadoes, is not a wise choice. The ditch can become full of water, and you can be trapped and risk drowning.
Just as you should be mindful of the weather before leaving your home, consider staying home or near a shelter if possible tornadoes or conditions conducive to tornadoes are in the forecast.
Know When to Stay Home
Despite inclement weather, it’s human nature to feel inclined to venture out to run errands or participate in a leisure activity. However, the key to staying safe during storms and other weather events is to know when you should stay safely at home.
If visibility is nearly zero, worsening weather is headed your way, or conditions are already poor, opt to keep your car parked and pick an alternate activity that doesn’t require you to leave your home or other shelter.
Check the weather before leaving for the day and make sure you’re prepared with emergency equipment in your car, truck, or SUV, should an unexpected situation arise. According to the National Safety Council, your emergency kit should include items like:
- A properly-inflated spare tire, wrench, and jack
- Jumper cables
- Multipurpose tool or small tool kit, with flashlight, spare batteries, and roll of duct tape
- Reflective triangles to make your car visible should you break down on the side of the road, and a reflective vest for yourself
- First aid kit with essentials like gauze, tape, bandages, antibiotic ointment, over-the-counter pain medication, non-latex gloves, scissors, thermometer, tweezers, and an instant cold compress
- Nonperishable foods and drinking water
- Rain poncho and emergency blanket
- Spare car charger for your cell phone, or a back-up battery pack
- Cold-weather preparedness kit, including an ice scraper, small shovel, warm clothing, and cat litter or sand for traction
Get Quality Auto Replacement Parts and Exceptional Service at Zeck Auto
For skilled mechanics certified to work on Ford and Chevrolet vehicles, make an appointment at Zeck’s Auto Service Centers, with locations near Oklahoma City, OK, and Kansas City, MO. You can request service online, as well as place orders for parts and accessories from your vehicle’s original manufacturer or reputable and high-quality aftermarket makers. Learn more about our service centers.
And if you’re in the market to buy a used or new car for sale near you, Zeck Auto can help you with that, too! Shop our full inventory, which we can get to you via our Zeck-to-Zeck Transport Service!