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Post-storm car damage: Check for hidden dangers

"We are more likely to encounter wildlife under our parked cars in the aftermath of a storm, so it's always worth having a quick look before setting off," advises Dominic Wyatt, an expert from the International Drivers Association. Among the more surprising occurrences, wildlife displaced by a storm often takes refuge under vehicles, presenting another post-storm concern.

Check for Visible Damage

An initial assessment of your vehicle after a storm involves checking for visible damage.

Areas to inspect include:

Windows and windshields potentially cracked or shattered by flying debris or hail

Dents or scratches on the bodywork caused by heavy winds or fallen branches

Damage to tyres, including punctures or splits, potentially caused by debris

Attached or detached flood water markings hinting at potential water damage

"Check all-around, particularly the roof and the hood," Wyatt suggests. "Hail damage can be deceptive and not immediately apparent."

Check for Hidden Damage

A visual inspection will reveal some damage, but it is also important to look deeper. Hidden damage to look out for includes:

Underbody and engine component damage, potentially resulting from driving through floodwater

Water ingress in the electrics or mechanical systems, which might cause the vehicle to stop suddenly or not start at all

Check the oil for water contamination. A milky appearance indicates water presence.

Floodwater in the vehicle can increase the risk of mould and rust, damaging upholstery and carpeting and introducing health risks to occupants.

"As always, when in doubt, consult with a professional mechanic," Wyatt advises. "Hidden damage can have serious consequences if not dealt with promptly and correctly."

Wildlife Refuge Under the Car

Perhaps a less considered but vital part of the post-storm check is to look under the vehicle for wildlife that might have taken refuge there. It's not uncommon for small mammals and birds to seek shelter under vehicles when their homes are destroyed in a storm.

"Rabbits, hedgehogs, and even cats might curl up in the wheel wells or under the warmth of the engine," says Wyatt. Before driving, check for any sign of these temporary occupants and gently coax them out to safety if possible.

Dealing With Detected Damage

Once you've completed checking your vehicle following a storm, you can move forward with attending to detected issues. Comprehensive insurance should cover most types of storm damage. Cars parked on public roads bear the owner's responsibility to make necessary fixes as it directly relates to public safety.

Although it's normal to feel overwhelmed after experiencing a storm, remember Wyatt's words: "It might just save a life, whether it's enough to prevent a crash because your car's in working order or ensuring small wildlife doesn't meet an unfortunate end under a wheel."

After all, storms carry an undeniable impact, and acting responsibly in their aftermath underpins not only your safety - and that of your vehicle - but also the well-being of local wildlife. Effective disaster management often hinges on individual accountability, and checking for post-storm car damage is certainly one of them.

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