How to prepare your vehicle for a hurricane or major storm

When you’re preparing your home for a serious storm, don’t forget your vehicle. It's probably the second most valuable thing you own and could be your most important possession in the days that follow. Here are a few tips from the experts on how to batten down your hatchbacks, sedans, crossovers and trucks:

Fill up the tank or charge the battery – before and in the aftermath of a storm fuel may be hard to come by and the power could be out. Whether you drive a conventional automobile or an electric, get it ready to roll. If you have extra gas cans, top them off too.

Check your oil, wipers and tires – now is as good a time as any to make sure your vehicle is in the best running condition. You don’t want to break down when help is unavailable, and being able to see and grip the road in the rain will improve your safety. Be sure to properly inflate your spare tire, too, as there will likely be more debris than usual out there that can cause a puncture.

Park safelyHagerty Insurance suggests parking in the garage facing out for an easy exit when necessary, and putting a cover on the car if one is available. Also remove any items from shelves that could fall on top of it and anchor anything that could move around if the garage is flooded. The garage door is the weakest link in many homes, so brace it if possible. If your house is prone to flooding, move your car to the highest ground away from any trees and utility poles, or next to a sturdy building for protection. And don’t forget to close the sunroof and windows.

Take photos and protect your documentsConsumer Reports recommends taking photos of your vehicle inside and out before a storm hits to make it easier to file any damage claims, and putting all of your ownership, registration and insurance papers in a waterproof container.

Pack supplies – It’s always a good idea to have a go-bag ready with essentials, but you can put another one in your car for an unexpected evacuation. Include water, food, extra clothing, flashlights, physical maps and car chargers for any electronics you bring along.

If your car sustains major water damage, don’t try to start it, but if you do head out remember these tips for driving during flood conditions.