If you live in the Snow Belt, the Southwest, along the Atlantic coast, on the banks of the rivers of the Midwest or within Tornado Alley, then chances are you know firsthand the effects that winter storms, dust storms, hurricanes, flooding and tornadoes can have on you, your house and, unfortunately, your car. While there’s nothing you can do to actually prevent these phenomena from occurring, there are ways to prepare your vehicle in the event of a weather emergency to help minimize the damage and ensure that you can quickly move past the crisis.
Ideally, you should start preparing your car for inclement winter weather before the first big snowfall. This involves getting your vehicle up-to-date on maintenance. Fluids (oil, transmission, even windshield wiper) should be topped off or changed, as necessary, and you should make sure the air pressure in your tires isn’t getting low. Get an idea, too, of where your brakes stand, as worn brake pads or warped rotors are dangerous in the best of weather. They’ll only get worse as the winter goes on and you could end up seriously in trouble if a storm catches you by surprise.
Check that your windshield wipers are in tip-top shape. Wiper blades that are older than six months could stand to be replaced; this is a pretty inexpensive swap to make. Also, you could end up with a great deal of muck and slush in your interior; putting down some heavy duty mats will help keep the flooring from getting too stained or otherwise abused.
One more thing: to be really prepared for the worst, keep some emergency essentials in your trunk. This includes blanket, jumper cables, first aid kid, gloves, a small shovel and even a small bag of kitty litter. If you’re feeling really ambitious, keep chains and possibly flares in your car. Accidents can happen in the winter, no matter how carefully you drive. Don’t end up stranded and vulnerable to the cold.
Dust storms weather can be predictable, so be aware of the weather forecast if you’re going to be driving through a hot, arid part of the U.S. You can keep bandanas at hand so that if you get stuck in a dust storm and have to pull over, you have something to cover your mouth and nose with. Keep bottled water close by, too – making the bandana damp helps keep dust from penetrating. Close all the doors, windows and vents, to prevent as much dust as possible from entering the interior. And while it may go against intuition, turn off all your car lights; in a dust storm, active lights coupled with limited visibility can confuse other drivers into thinking you’re still moving on the road and they could then end up rear-ending you.
Your car is one thing you do not want to be rocked like a hurricane. If you can’t evacuate and the storm is approaching, keep your car parked as close to the house as possible, whether that’s inside the garage, in a carport or just along one side. You might try a canvas cover, especially if the car is outside, in order to prevent debris from scratching it; if you can figure out a way to secure it, all the better!
Flood water can rise faster than you can imagine, so if a dangerous time is approaching, get your car to a gas station as soon as possible and fill up the tank. That way if there’s an ordered evacuation, you’re set to just get away to high, dry ground. If you’re in the car and you get caught in a flood, abandon ship immediately and head on foot for high ground. Flooding only has to be about six inches high before it poses an immediate threat to your vehicle.
Unfortunately, when you are at home, there isn’t much you can do for your car. If it’s in a garage, that’s your best bet for keeping it safe. If you know you’ll be driving through severe weather, have the foresight to pack an emergency kit with nonperishable food, water bottles and medical supplies or a first aid kid. Should you be confronted with a tornado while driving, grab your kit, get out of the car and head for the nearest ditch. Do not attempt to outrun a tornado in your car. You are not in “Twister” and the results could be dangerous, if not deadly.
This article was written by Chester Mellon. Chester advises that ether can wreak havoc on your car and its components. Investigate the best parts for your car, on sites such as http://www.partsgeek.com/parts/shocks.html and stay abreast of any weather developments!