09-26-22

Prepping Your Toyota For a Hurricane

Summer may be over, but we’re still in the thick of hurricane season. While Florida usually gets the brunt of the storms, there are good chances that those strong residual winds, rains, and other terrifying weather will affect Birmingham as well. And when that happens, it’s crucial to protect your Toyota from the damage these strong storms can cause. 

Storms can cause a lot of damage, especially if you’re unprepared. Falling trees or limbs, hail, debris blown around by the strong winds, and all of this and more can pose significant risks to a car sitting out on the street unprotected. And there’s nothing worse than waking up after a crazy storm to see your car dented or windows cracked or broken as a result. While your favorite local Toyota experts are here to help repair any damage, we’d rather you avoid that situation completely. So here are some things you can do to keep your Toyota out of harm's way! 

 

How to Protect Your Car During Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

 

Strong storms like hurricanes or even severe thunderstorms can produce some crazy weather conditions. These can include hail the size of quarters or larger that can fall at speeds faster than 100 miles per hour, fast and strong winds sometimes reaching speeds of 74 miles per hour, and incredible amounts of heavy rain averaging around 16 inches, all resulting in flooding from storm surges, personal and property damage, and more. If you’ve left your car out on the road in the middle of a hurricane, tropical storm, or even a severe thunderstorm, there’s a good chance that your car will be on the receiving end of some crazy damage from trees, debris, water, and a lot more. We’re here to help give you some tips on how to protect your car in the event of severe weather events and future-proof yourself a bit in the process. 

 

Preparing Your Car For The Storm

 

Protecting your car from any potential damage is definitely the first thing you should be thinking about. There are a handful of things you can do to prep your car from the barrage of wind, rain, and more that is bound to come during any severe weather event. 

 

  • Remove any crucial documents and personal items
  • Lock all doors and close windows and moon/sunroofs
  • Protect windows and lights with foam and duct tape
  • Set your hand/emergency brake to brace your car
  • Fill the gas tank
  • Use a car cover or large blanket/rug

 

The number one thing you want to do is secure any and all documents as well as personal items. This can include your insurance cards, registration, and any other important papers you may be keeping in your glove box. In the event of flooding, you definitely don’t want any of those papers to receive any severe water damage. Once you’ve got all you wanted to out of your car, you can begin adding layers of protection. Placing foam against the windows secured with duct tape will support your windows during intense winds. Setting your parking brake gives your car something to brace against in the event of flooding and winds. And of course, covering your car with a heavy blanket paired with a tarp will help protect against falling debris or hail. Filling your gas tank is a really good way to give yourself an out if you suddenly need to move your car or evacuate from your house or apartment. All of this, as well as anything else you come up with, will be great ways to protect your car the best you can from damage during a storm. 

 

Future-Proof Yourself

 

Before any serious storm, if you’re expecting the chance that your car may be damaged, it may be a good idea to take pictures of the condition of your car BEFORE the storm. Most car insurances do provide a level of natural disaster coverage. However, insurance also typically will look for any reason not to pay out that coverage. If you take pictures of the condition of your car before the storm, you have a solid baseline to compare any damage that may have taken place during the storm. And photo evidence is irrefutable in most cases. 

 

Where to Park Your Car During a Storm

 

Knowing where to park your car during a storm can give you a huge advantage and help you avoid serious damage. It should come as no surprise that parking under a tree or next to the water is probably not the greatest idea during an intense storm. You want a place that does more to protect your car and avoid anything that may easily break off and land on said car. Places like covered parking garages are very ideal, as they provide not only nearly complete coverage on all sides but often place your car at a higher elevation which can protect your car from flooding. You definitely want to avoid basement or low-level parking areas, as those will be the first places to flood during heavy rainfall. However, any enclosed parking space will be more ideal than an open-air parking lot, so if you have a parking garage best make use of it. And even if you’re car is protected on all sides, it’s still a good idea to implement all of the layers of protection. More protection is always a good idea.  

 

Driving During a Severe Storm

 

Obviously, it’s not a great idea to head out on the road in the middle of a hurricane or other severe weather event. However, some situations are unavoidable, like having to evacuate from your home or apartment building, or driving back home and you get stuck in a storm. So if you’re going to be driving in the middle of one of the worst situations possible, be smart about it. 

 

The number one thing to avoid is any flooded roads or washed-out bridges. Even if you have a decent off-road vehicle that’s prepared for situations like that, you likely don’t have the necessary training or experience to come out of that unscathed. Find a new route that takes a higher road. Another road hazard to watch for is fallen objects or downed power lines. Storms can bring down a whole manner of branches, whole trees, telephone poles, and power lines that can pose a great risk to you on the road. Don’t take the risk of trying to move the branch and definitely don’t touch downed power lines as they are likely still live and extremely dangerous. Stay in your car and find a way around or a completely new route. 

 

The way you drive will also change depending on the situation. During low visibility and high winds and rain, it’s best to slow down as much as you can. Driving slow allows you to have more time to respond to stalled vehicles or road hazards, while also giving you more control against strong winds. 

 

Stay Safe Out There

 

Hurricanes, tropical storms, and other forms of severe weather are no joke. They’ve accounted for billions of dollars of damage and countless deaths over the years and we don’t want you to fall victim to the increasing danger these severe weather events bring with them. While these tips are not a guarantee that you’ll avoid any and all danger or damage by any means, they are certainly a good start to protecting yourself and your property. To learn more, please visit https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes and stay safe out there! Remember, a car is replaceable, you are not. 

 

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08-02-22

Tricks For Stress-Free Street Parking in Birmingham

Birmingham is a city unlike any other. However, all awesome cities have their issues. It just so happens that here, we fall into the same roadblock as many others, which is the parking situation. 

As a Birmingham resident, you know that parking downtown can be hard to come by, especially on weekends. With street parking as one of only a few options available to you, it's simply an unavoidable part of your life behind the wheel. So, if you have to park on the street, you may as well stay safe. Below are some basic things every Hoover Toyota driver can do to ensure the safety of their vehicle when parking on the street.

Stress-Free Street Parking in Birmingham

 

Having to parallel park on a busy street can certainly be nerve-wracking. In fact,  parallel parking is something that many drivers struggle with, but it’s still an important skill to master. So, how comfortable are you with parallel parking? More importantly, can you parallel park? Because if the answer to either of these questions is no, you may want to just pony up the twenty-or-so bucks required to gain access to an oversaturated parking garage. However, if you have the mettle to take on the tall task of parallel parking on a busy city street, keep reading. 

 

Super Fast Street Parking Tips

  • Pay attention to the street signs: A common joke among big-city drivers, street signs are something that should be simple to interpret but, oftentimes, are not. With differing messages, time restraints, and symbols all coexisting on the same small rectangular sign, parking legally on the street can require some focus and mental fortitude. Take your time, read the signs and ensure that you won't be returning to a freshly booted vehicle.
  • Park under street lights, not tree branches: If possible, it's always a good idea to park your car in a well-lit area. In general, the more visible your car is, the safer it will be. On the other hand, parking under trees should be avoided whenever possible. Trees shed debris with rain and wind and, on occasion, come down completely in severe weather. Not to mention bird poop is rather annoying, especially with a convertible.
  • Fold in side mirrors: One of the easiest ways to protect your car when parking on the street is by simply folding in your driver-side side mirror. This prevents an irresponsible driver from passing too close to your parked car, clipping off your mirror, and continuing on with their day, leaving you with the bill for repairs.
  • Take or hide your things and lock up: On average, over 80,000 unlocked cars are stolen yearly. That's right, unlocked cars. So, while this may seem like an obvious tip, it is an important one. Lock your car, take your keys with you and be sure that no valuables are visible to people passing by and peeking in. Make sure potential thieves are not interested in your car or anything inside it.
  • Hey Siri, drop a pin: People are forgetful. We forget our keys, our phones, our wallets. Heck, sometimes we forget whether or not our kids are in the backseat. We also, on occasion, forget where we park. Prevent this issue by dropping a pin on your maps app before you leave your ride behind. Then, when you're ready to return, simply pull up the pin and find your ride in no time.

 

Worthwhile Investments

  • Car wash: Getting your car washed about every two weeks is a great way to make sure your car looks presentable. Beyond that, it shows would-be thieves that you pay attention to your vehicle. Oftentimes, car thieves target vehicles that look neglected. The idea here is that they will have more time after the theft to do with the car what they want before the owner even notices it's gone. So, protect your car's exterior appearance and show people you care about your ride with frequent washes. 
  • Snow cover: A snow cover or car blanket protects your car from all elements. Whether that's snow, hail, tree debris, or bird droppings, a cover is a great way to protect your ride and prevent passersby from seeing what's inside.
  • Sunshade: Over time, constant exposure to the sunlight will cause fading and cracks on your dash and other areas of your interior. A sunshade is a great way to protect your car's interior and prevent potential thieves from seeing something worth stealing in your car.
  • Catalytic converter shield: This may sound like an unnecessary precaution, but when you consider the fact that an experienced thief can steal a catalytic converter in about two minutes, that $350 shield is looking a lot better than a $2,000+ converter.

 

Getting Used To Street Parking 

 

With more and more people moving to major metropolitan areas each year, parking in areas like Dayton is getting harder and harder to find, while inventory for car thieves has never been higher. However, if you follow these steps, you can rest easy knowing that you've done all you can to protect your car while it's parked on the street.

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