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How Does Extreme Weather Affect Your Car?

A car being excavated from beneath a tree that fell on it during a storm.Florida might be known as the Sunshine State, but it experiences its fair share of severe weather. Meteorologists estimate that Florida has one of the highest concentrations of thunderstorms in the country, with thunder and lightning occurring in the state at least 80 days out of the year. Florida also encounters tropical storms, hurricanes, and other forms of extreme weather throughout the year.

Mother Nature will wear down your car over time. From extreme heat to damaging hail, inclement weather can impact your car in multiple ways. Learn about the dangers that different weather patterns present and how to protect your vehicle on even the most blustery days.

Types of Extreme Weather

Just because Florida doesn’t get snowfall and ice storms doesn’t mean it’s always a tropical paradise. Even sunny days can have the occasional pop-up thunderstorm that causes a surprising amount of damage in a short period. Here are a few types of extreme weather that are found in Florida and how they can impact your vehicle.

High Winds

One of the most common forms of extreme weather in Florida is high winds. A windy day is usually a precursor to an afternoon thunderstorm or an incoming hurricane. Tropical storm winds exceed 39 mph while hurricane-force winds exceed 74 mph. Even if a hurricane is hitting a completely different part of the state, winds from the storm can travel to your location and potentially damage your car.

The wind itself usually doesn’t cause damage, but it can knock over tree branches, blow ground debris across the road, and lift objects from the ground. A falling branch or rogue trash can could hit your car and cause exterior damage.

It’s common for Florida residents to need windshield repairs, or even full a windshield replacement, after a period of extreme wind. Chips and cracks will reduce your visibility while driving and make it unsafe to get behind the wheel. Even if you think your car is parked away from any potential flying debris, a particularly high or strong gust can still cause damage.

Heavy Rainstorms

Heavy rain is another form of extreme weather that is common in Florida; in fact, the Sunshine State receives between 40 to 60 inches of rain per year. However, this rainfall is rarely evenly distributed throughout the year. Florida has two seasons: the dry season, which starts in October, and the wet season, which starts in May. The majority of Florida’s rainfall comes during the rainy season.

Hurricane season also starts in June and runs through November, with the majority of hurricanes reaching Florida’s coast in August and September. It’s not uncommon for parts of Florida to get a season’s worth of rainfall within a few days because of a tropical storm.

Rain and floodwaters can ruin the electronics and mechanical systems of cars, essentially rendering them useless. However, heavy rainstorms can also affect the exterior of your vehicle. Water can potentially damage your paint and even reduce the visibility of your windshield if it gets between the glass.

If heavy rainstorms or other forms of extreme weather damage your car’s exterior, especially your windshield, it’s worth the effort to get it repaired. Check to see if windshield replacement is covered within your insurance policy and decide whether filing a claim is right for you. It’s often more affordable to file a claim than to pay for windshield repair out of pocket, and some insurance providers won’t change your rates because you submitted a claim.

Extreme Heat

Even if you’re enjoying a beautiful sunshine-packed day in Florida, the natural elements could harm your car. Extreme heat can wear out your battery faster, which could leave you stranded if you aren’t careful. The heat can also affect your tire pressure, as hot air expands and can result in uneven tires, increasing the risk of a blowout. Your car is also at greater risk of overheating during high temperatures.

To get an idea of how harmful extreme heat can be to your car, consider that most Floridians change their car batteries every two to three years. In other parts of the country, car batteries can last up to five years.

Not only does Florida experience some of the hottest temperatures in the country, but it also has some of the highest humidity levels. Moisture in the air increases the heat index, which means it feels hotter than it is. Both heat and humidity can harm your vehicle, especially with prolonged exposure.

How To Protect Your Vehicle

Though you might not be able to protect your car from every potential weather threat, you can take steps to extend its life and keep yourself safe. Not only can this give you peace of mind when you’re on the road, but it can also save you time and money in the long run. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to protect your car during extreme weather:

  • Whenever possible, park your car in a garage. This will protect it from extreme heat, heavy rainstorms, and wind debris.
  • If you must park outside, choose your parking spaces strategically. On a hot day, look for shady places to park your car. If it’s windy, try to park away from trees and potential sources of debris.
  • Invest in a car cover. Weather-resistant covers can keep your paint looking new and provide shade for your car.
  • Keep up with car maintenance. Check your tires before you get behind the wheel, know when it’s time for an oil change, and address any needed repairs promptly. This will reduce the chances that you experience a breakdown while on the road.
  • Never drive through floodwaters. Not only could you potentially ruin your car, but you are putting your life at risk. All it takes is a few inches of water to lift a vehicle and cause it to float away.

All of these tips are especially important if you use your personal vehicle for work purposes. The last thing you want is for your car to be out of commission, preventing you from running both professional and personal errands.

Extreme weather will always pose a threat to your car, but by understanding the associated risks, you can take steps to protect your vehicle.