HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Vehicle experts recommend taking some safety steps before the heavy rain hits, telling us you can help prevent avoidable wrecks and damage before you leave the house.
Hunter Johnson, General Manager of Bill Penney Toyota, said the key is making sure you're checking some simple things on your vehicle.
"Really just getting out and inspecting it," he said. "Most consumers never walk around their car before getting in it."
He gave us a list of things to look for:
- Wipers: Check the blades and the mechanism to make sure it works properly. "You're looking for dry rot. If you see they've aged, and it's been a couple years since you've changed them, it's definitely time. If you see any rips or tears, what that's going to do is lead to streaking. Physically touch them and make sure that's not happening. You'll definitely have clearer vision," he said.
- Windshield: Add some rain repellant. "Go out there, wipe it, and wipe it off. You'll have better vision and the windshield wipers are going to work 10 times better."
- Tires: If the tread is too thin and the tire too worn, it's time for a replacement. Click here to learn the penny test. You don't want to hydroplane and endanger yourself or others. "If there's a lot of water on the road and you're starting to brake, your tires are not going to grab the water fast enough so your tires are going to start sliding and you're just along for the ride," Johnson said of tires with thin tread. "If you know you need tires, that's a good time to plan ahead, drive slowly, and be safe." The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says there were 738 total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2017 in tire-related crashes.
- Lights: "Check turn signals. All lights. High beam. Fog lights. Is everything working," Johnson recommended. "The reason why is when it gets dark, the more vision the better."
- Headlight lenses: if they appear too foggy, it's time for headlight restoration. "When you see a film over your headlights, and it's looking a little brown or yellow look, it is time to do the headlight restoration," he said.
Some of these checks can be done as a complimentary service at an auto business or dealership.
While driving once it starts raining, Johnson also reminds you to slow down and watch your stopping distance so you have room if you need to abruptly brake and have to slide around a little.
"We always know If there's bad weather-- our body shop volume rises," Johnson stated.
And you can avoid being one of those people, and even save your life or someone else's, by being proactive.
"Prepare for when it rains. Leave 5 or 10 minutes earlier. Slow down," he said.
And once you get where you're going, he advises parking your car away from ditches or drainage areas that tend to back up. That way, water doesn't rise and have the potential to get inside your vehicle.
"The water can come up quicker than you realize. If it gets in your vehicle, you're leading up to mildew, changing carpet, changing seats. You're talking about an insurance claim," he said. Click here to learn more about safety during adverse weather conditions.
Thinking ahead like that can have great benefit.
"Overprepare and it could save you thousands of dollars," Johnson explained.