No one’s favorite pastime is driving in a hailstorm. If you find yourself in one, you’ll want to do everything within your power to get out of it with as little damage to your vehicle and person as possible. Here’s what to do when blackened skies rain down hail while you’re on the road.
Not only can hail damage your vehicle, but it can also harm you personally. Although death by hail is infrequent, it is possible that large stones could injure you. Stay in your vehicle until it’s safe to exit.
2. Pull Over as Soon as Possible
When driving in a hailstorm, you’ll find your visibility diminished, perhaps significantly. Further, if the storm is especially severe, hail may accumulate on the roads, making them slippery. Even on a hot day, hail may accumulate enough to affect your vehicle’s steering and handling. As soon as you can, pull off the road. If you’re on a highway, find an overpass, stop underneath it and pull all the way over to the right. Keep your head lamps and emergency flashers on to warn other drivers. Avoid ditches or any low-lying place where water can accumulate rapidly.
3. Mind the Glass
If hail does hit your car, you’ll want to approach the storm from the front. That’s because windshield glass is specially reinforced and less likely to break. Your side and back windows, however, are far more prone to breakage.
4. Protect Yourself and Your Passengers
Once you’re parked and waiting out the storm, move as far away from the windows as possible. This may mean reclining your seat or having your children leave their seats to sit on the floor. If glass begins to break, instruct everyone to cover their face.
5. Deal with Damage Immediately
Fortunately, hailstorms are typically brief, lasting anywhere between five and 10 minutes. But even during that short duration, damage can be severe. Call for help if the damage to your car is extensive. Broken glass and water intrusion may necessitate roadside assistance.
If your car undergoes damage, call your insurance company as soon as possible to file a claim. Take photos of your vehicle and submit them to your insurer, if needed. Keep these photos for your personal records.
Your insurer will evaluate your vehicle and recommend repair options. Some repairs you can handle yourself, such as replacing damaged wiper blades or a smashed headlight. For more serious repairs, it’s a good practice to obtain estimates from up to three shops. Once you’re satisfied with the best repair estimate and you’ve verified the shop’s reputation, have the work done. In most cases, it’ll take one day to complete the repairs. Ask for a written guarantee before you leave the shop.
Check out all the vision and safety parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on driving in a hailstorm, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.