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How Do You Protect Your Car During a Hurricane?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro September 2017

If there's a hurricane bearing down on you, you're probably considering all the standard items -- like how to protect your house and your family, how to stockpile supplies you might need in case the power goes down for days or even weeks, and -- if it's especially bad -- how to evacuate your area. But you may also want to know how to protect your car from a hurricane, since it's a valuable asset -- and, of course, an important means of transportation. Here are some tips for keeping your car safe from a hurricane.

Don't Drive Into Floods

Probably the most important piece of advice we can give you is that you shouldn't drive into floods. This may seem obvious, but keep in mind that "flood" doesn't have to mean fast-rushing water or an overflowing river. Even just a foot of standing water can render some cars inoperable, and you shouldn't drive into any area where you don't know how deep the water is. People often make the mistake of thinking a local road they travel often is "probably fine," even if it's under water -- and they don't discover that it presents a hazard until their car is submerged and they can't get out.

Simply put, driving into a flood or a flooded area isn't worth the risk. When you see off-roaders drive through giant mud puddles in online videos, that's usually because they know the area well -- or because they measured the puddle's depth off-camera before going through it. Unless you know precisely how deep the water is and how much depth your car can handle before it stalls, don't take the chance. If your engine or interior fills with water, your car will probably be undrivable, and not just temporarily -- you likely won't be able to use it again.

Fill It Up With Fuel

If possible, try to fill up your car with fuel before a hurricane hits. This can help protect both your car and you: If you have gas in your car, you may be able to flee an area if the storm is more intense than predicted (or if it takes an unexpected turn). And having fuel in your car can help you leave an area after a storm has hit. Most importantly, filling up with fuel before a hurricane ensures you aren't stuck looking for gas during a storm or in its immediate aftermath, when fuel supplies are often disrupted.

Park Inside

Although flooding is a common threat from hurricanes, many people forget about another major threat: blown debris. If you can, move your car into your house's garage to keep it safe from anything that might blow around outside, like trees, fences or other debris. If you don't have a garage, try to park your car under some sort of overhead cover or next to a building to avoid leaving it fully exposed -- though avoid parking it anywhere near a tree or power lines, as they could topple over on the car and destroy it. You likely won't want to be separated from your car during a storm, so you may not want to drive somewhere else (like a parking garage) to park it under cover.

Get to Higher Ground

Of course, flooding is a risk, too. If you live in an area that's known to flood, you may want to consider moving your vehicle to higher ground. While it may not be a good idea to be separated from your vehicle in a major storm, having a flooded vehicle isn't much use, either. If there's a hill near your house where you can park your car or cars, consider doing it. And if you have multiple vehicles, consider leaving one wherever you plan to ride out the storm while moving the others to a safer location with a higher elevation. If you're evacuating before the storm hits and you plan to leave vehicles behind, try to find a higher location to park them in order to prevent flooding, with as much cover as possible to prevent damage.

The truth, of course, is that there's no fail-safe way to ensure you can protect your car in a severe storm. And if the storm passes and you return home (or walk outside) to discover your vehicle has been destroyed, we've got you covered there, too, with some tips about next steps after your car has been through a natural disaster. Regardless of what you do, however, remember that your own life is a lot more important than your car's -- and you shouldn't do anything to protect your car or your other property that puts your life in danger.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
How Do You Protect Your Car During a Hurricane? - Autotrader