How to keep your car safe in a storm
There’s rough weather on the radar, and there sits your pride and joy: outside in unpredictable elements, with no garage or carport to protect it. Damn.
Concerned? You should be. A big storm can do big damage to your car. Of the 80,000-plus insurance claims that resulted from the massive hail storm that struck Sydney and parts of NSW in December 2018, nearly 60,000 involved motor vehicles. And it's estimated that another 20,000 cars were damaged in Canberra's ferocious hailstorm in January 2020.
While you can’t rule out your non-garaged car getting damaged in a storm, it is possible to minimise the risk. Here are four steps to help keep your car sitting pretty when the weather turns ugly.
Clear and secure the area
If you can’t get your car under cover, you want it in the least risky space possible. Obviously, try to park away from trees or areas you know could become flooded. Inspect the area around your car for any objects that could either become airborne in strong winds (buckets, bins, etc.); or objects that could fall or move (overhanging branches), and take appropriate action. Being prepared by removing obvious risks can often make all the difference.
Use a hail cover
These do exactly what they say on the tin – they’re a car cover with additional padding to help prevent or reduce damage from hail, branches and other small objects that tend to fly around in a storm and damage a car.
But not all hail covers are the same or cost the same. The most affordable have padding that covers just the horizontal surfaces. Others have padding that runs halfway down the side of the vehicle or even suspended padded sections that jut out over the extremities of a car for increased protection.
If your car’s likely foe is truly apocalyptic weather, then a hail cover that includes padding right down to the ground is worth considering, but be prepared for a price premium.
Raid the linen cupboard
So you haven’t got a commercial hail cover, but a storm is imminent – what now? Well, do as Winston “The Wolf” Wolfe did in 1994 cult-hit flick Pulp Fiction and send your underlings off to the linen cupboard for blankets. The thicker the blanket, the better; folded in half for additional padding, and enough to cover over the edge of your car’s horizontal panels, windows and lights – or even cover it completely if possible. Then tie it all down.
The downside of this tactic is the pre-storm fiddling and the big pile of wet blankets post-storm, but that will teach you the value of a commercial cover. And hopefully, you’ll have prevented – or at least reduced – the damage to your car.
We don’t recommend racing out of town during a storm or with one nipping at your heels – that could leave your car with accident damage as well. However, if you have plenty of notice, consider making your way safely to somewhere that offers shelter for your car before the storm hits. This could be a friend with a two-car garage, a shopping centre with undercover parking or even a commercial parking garage. Basically, anywhere you can get your car under cover without parking illegally or becoming a public nuisance.