Safety Tips for Summer Storms

This beautiful weather also brings storms that could be very dangerous.  Tornados, hail, and white-out rain storms are prevalent this time of year.  We put together some tips on what to do if you find yourself stuck in a storm while you’re in your vehicle.

Tornado Safety If Caught In Your Car
It’s easy to think that your vehicle could easily outrun a tornado, but they can change directions quickly and strong tornado winds are capable of picking up a vehicle and depositing it miles away from where it started.

‘Trying to outrun a tornado in your vehicle is the number one thing to remember not to do. AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist, Dave Samuhel, said that trying to outrun a tornado is a bad idea because tornadoes have the potential to travel over 60 mph and they don’t have to follow road patterns. Driving on a 90-degree angle away from the tornado is a good strategy to follow in order to distance yourself from the tornado.

“A compass or GPS may be helpful to determine which way to drive on a 90-degree angle away from the storm,” Samuhel said.

If you see a tornado developing where you are driving, the best thing to do is to pull over and evacuate your vehicle. Seek shelter in the nearest sturdy building or storm shelter; do not hide under your car. The wind could potentially roll your car over. If there is no available shelter, find the nearest ditch or low-lying area and crouch low to the ground covering your head with your arms.

Potentially sturdy structures to look for while driving are fast food restaurants and banks. Fast food restaurants will usually have a cooler that could withstand a tornado similar to a safe in a bank, according to Samuhel. Also, seeking shelter in an interior wall is a good idea.

“The more walls between you and the tornado, the better off you are,” Samuhel said. (excerpt taken from AccuWeather.com).’

Protecting Your Vehicle (and Yourself) During a Hail Storm
Hail storms can be detrimental to your vehicle and your pocketbook. Being prepared ahead of time can help you avoid some significant damage, and even injury.
Obviously, a garage is ideal. If you have a garage that needs to be cleaned out to allow space for your vehicle(s), now is the time to do some spring cleaning! No garage? There are lots of other options:
– Invest in an inexpensive car port
– Purchase a padded car cover – (if you have time before a storm hits, add some blankets or towels underneath the padded cover for added cushion)
– Make sure you receive weather alerts on your phone. Lots of free weather apps offer this service so that you know ahead of time when a hail storm should hit.
– Put those floor mats to use – in a pinch, use floor mats to cover your hood and roof. It won’t protect the entire vehicle but it will help mitigate the damage.
– Use tall buildings as hail shields. If you are caught driving during a hail storm, find the tallest building near you, determine which directions the hail is coming from and park your car on the opposite side as near to the building as possible. Parking on the west side of a tall building during an easterly hail storm will help minimize your hail damage as well.
– If caught driving before a storm hits, try to get into a building before hand, and put those floor mats to work on your while you’re taking shelter inside.
And should your vehicle sustain any hail damage, the Monken Service Department  is here to help you fix any damage you may have sustained.
What To Do When Caught In a Heavy Rain Storm While Driving
Our number one tip for staying safe while driving in a heavy rain storm is to get off the road when visibility is bad.  Pull over to a rest area, a store parking lot or to the side of the road in a pinch.  Note: If you pull off to the side of the road, be sure to put on your hazards.
If you can get under a gas station overhang, try to. DO NOT park under large trees in the hope of trying to stay dry and avoid damage. Even large trees can topple or lose heavy branches during a heavy enough rain.
During lightning and thunder, do not leave your vehicle unless you can QUICKLY get into a nearby building.  If lightning hits your vehicle, the electrical current will travel through the metal cage of your car and into the ground.  Note: the electrical current could still affect your car’s electrical system, so be careful not to touch any metal buttons or instruments in your car until the lightning has subsided.
If you notice that the road is starting to flood, turn around. Don’t try to drive through a flooding road – two feet of water can float a car and even a truck.
And to be on the safe side, keep an emergency kit in your car at all times.  For tips on what to keep in your emergency car kit, see our post here.

Spring Vehicle Maintenance Checklist

Now that winter is (FINALLY) behind us and spring has decided to make an appearance, it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning – for your vehicle! Winters can be harsh on your car, which makes spring the perfect time to do some good maintenance and a deep clean.

Check out our Spring Vehicle Maintenance Checklist below, and stop by for our no appointment necessary oil change or see our service specials and let Monken help you with your spring chores!

Schedule an Oil Change. A good rule of thumb is to get an oil change approximately every 5000 miles.  It’s an easy and inexpensive part of your vehicle maintenance and it really helps extend the efficiency and reliability of your vehicle.

A GOOD Car Wash – Inside and Out. More than just the aesthetic of having a clean car, giving your vehicle a good wash at the start of spring is a step toward maintaining the overall health of your car. Road salt left on the exterior for too long can deplete the color and corrode the metal. (And spring rain showers are not enough to rinse off all that winter grime). Don’t forget the wash the undercarriage as well – this is where a lot of the road salt tends to sit and cause problems.

Don’t forget about the interior. Most car washes offer free vacuums after you’ve paid for a wash, so take advantage of them! Winter tends to encourage a trash buildup in the doors, nooks and crannies of vehicles. Take 20 minutes after your car wash and vacuum out the entire inside.

Replace Wiper Blades. Winter can be very harsh on wiper blades and small tears and cracks can appear without you being able to see them. With the onslaught of spring showers, you want to make sure that your wiper blades are up to snuff.

Check Tire Pressure and Alignment. Your tires are literally the cushion between you and the road, so it’s especially important to take care of them. We recommend checking your tire pressure monthly. Most newer vehicles will send you an alert when one or more tires has fallen below the recommended level.

Check the tread for wear and tear. Roads can be very slippery during spring rain storms, so you want to make sure you’re able to stop without sliding. You’ll want to rotate and align them in the spring as well.

Change Air Filters. You may not be using that AC just yet, but before it becomes an absolute necessity, make sure that your air filters are unclogged and replace them if necessary.

Review Your Insurance Policy. This is one of the vehicle maintenance items that people always forget about. Oftentimes, your agent will proactively reach out to you every so often, but if they don’t, spring is a good time to be proactive about it yourself. Are you in the most efficient policy for your family? Will you be adding a new teen driver to your policy soon? Call your agent and find out if there are any deals or discounts that you can get as well.

10 Most Important Items to Keep In Your Car

A car emergency kit is always something we recommend people have in their vehicle at all times. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize their need for one until it’s too late.  There are a number of kits that you can purchase, like this one from AAA, or this one if you’re prepping for a zombie apocalypse , but they are simple to put together yourself at home.  You’ll be glad you made one should you ever find yourself in the position to need it.
Even if you have AAA, they may not come immediately, inclement weather may keep them from getting to you at all, and passengers inside the car could be injured. We put together our list of the 10 most important items to keep in your car emergency kit at all times.
1. A First-Aid Kit. Yes, a kit within your kit. These can be purchased very inexpensively at any drug store, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. and should include the typical items like Band-Aids, gauze, antibacterial cream, and anything else specific to your family’s needs.
2. Water. Depending on who your typical passengers are, you may want to keep more or less water handy, but a gallon jug is a good amount. We find this to be handy not even during a vehicle emergency, but also after a hike when you realize your dog doesn’t have quite enough water!
3. An extra cell-phone charger. Buy a spare charger that you NEVER take out of this kit. Most people have one handy inside the vehicle, but if your family is anything like ours, they mysteriously go missing from time to time. Keep one in the emergency kit that your battery-hogging teenagers don’t know about.
4. Non-perishable snacks. We recommend protein or granola bars and trail mix. We’ve also heard of people keeping those energy gel packets used by avid hikers and marathoners.
5. Rain poncho with a hood. This one sounds kind of silly, until you have to try and change your tire in the rain and you can’t see through the rain dripping down your face. It’s also helpful if you run out of gas and have to walk in the rain to the nearest gas station.
6. Multi-purpose utility tool. You can do a ton of cool things with a Swiss Army Knife, and the best part is, they are compact and lightweight. Handy for any number of emergencies, including, but not limited to, packing a romantic afternoon picnic and realizing you left your corkscrew or bottle opener at home.
7. Duct tape: One of the world’s most underrated inventions. A favorite of Michael Scott when he had to survive alone in the woods.
8. Flashlight and extra batteries. Bonus points if your flashlight is waterproof.
9. Jumper Cables. The longer the better, in case they have to be used after someone’s vehicle has gone off the road.
10. Foam tire sealant. Definitely not a permanent solution for a flat tire, but if you’re dealing with a small puncture, this foam sealant is a good quick fix to help you get from the side of the road to a nearby service center.
Also, here is a list of our  Roadside Assistance Numbers you may want to keep in your vehicle.