Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Hurricane Season: Automotive and Generator Maintenance


In just a few short days we in South West Florida, will be in the beginning of “Hurricane Season”. What does that mean to us? Well to me it means that if a storm comes our way, I will be inundated with scared people that have at the last minute decided to leave the area trying to make sure that their vehicles will make it.

It also means that the same percentage of people will be banging on my door with generators that haven’t been started or even looked at in the last 10 years.

Hurricane Season is Here

Now if that sounds just a little gruff maybe it’s the toll of being in this business for 42 years starting to take its toll. “Hurricane Season” comes every year on June 1st and ends on November 30th. Every year there is a Hurricane Expo, brought to you, the public, for free at the Convention Center.

This is pretty much run by my friend Wayne Sallade, who begs and pleads for everyone to be prepared. Wayne and I are brothers in a way, we both rode out Hurricane Charley, we both saw first-hand how destructive and fickle Mother Nature can be.

As usual the first couple of months of season is pretty quiet, just quiet enough for folks to get complacent and cocky. I lived through Donna while I was in Brooklyn, and had absolutely no idea what was really going on. But I do remember this, trees were down, walls that had ivy on them for all of my short life was now bare, images that just stayed with me. I watched Andrew rip across the state, I have pictures of the harbor emptied from the storm and the surge as the water came back.

I remember watching Charley track. I was so cocky that I invited friends from St. Pete to come here so that they would be safe. I was also naïve. Was I prepared? Yes I was! Why? I don’t know. I consider it being like an animal that knows when to hide when a storm is brewing. I had already purchased 2 huge generators just 2 weeks before, and had hurricane doors installed on my house. My garage doors were however still I permitting.

I helped my parent’s board up their home the day before. I didn’t board up the shop until that morning, a really last second decision. I was totally excited, no, enthralled. I took out my camera and rolls of film and I parked myself on the bridge to take pictures. And I did until the winds were up about 120mph. The Sheriff’s Department was pretty miffed at me and frankly told me that if I DIDN’T LEAVE I WAS GOING TO JAIL. Fortunately for me I did go home.

I found that my hurricane door was so stiff that when the wind was blowing it pushed the door out of the locks. A small adjustment rectified that but I was just a little concerned as I watched the debris flying around.

That was the first time that fear entered my mind. So much that I actually boarded up my own home. Now this was very much easier than the average person. You see way back in 1990 when I built my home I sheltered it with trees, I also built a wood house so screwing plywood over the windows was phenomenally easy.

So as I finished with the last set of boards I was soaking wet, as I stripped to my birthday suit I stood on my garage roof and yelled to Charley that he could “Kiss my a**”. A statement that I left on the plywood on the station until someone complained about profanity.

I brought many of these pictures to the Hurricane Expo and you and find them on Youtube or on our Facebook page. Look at the devastation, and disbelief.

Service your Generators

What in the HELL does this have to do with Maintenance? Well let me tell you. If you are going to stick it out, you better make damn sure that your generator is going to start and you have an extra five gallons of fuel close by. Just five not fifty.

Cash is King

More makes you prone for looters and fires. Make sure that you have cash because when the power goes down so do the ATM’s and CASH IS KING! Make sure that you have good coolers with frozen milk bottles of water, because it will keep your food cold for a while and as it melts it becomes good drinking water.

Car Maintenance

If you’re going to leave, make sure that you have multiples destinations. As like Charley, storms can change directions in a moment. Smart money says leave at least 3 to 5 days BEFORE the storm hits.
Most importantly make sure that your vehicle will make it.

Pay special attention to belts and hoses and especially cooling systems. Make sure that if you are dependent on the Air Conditioning working that it has been thoroughly checked and charged. Make sure that all of your filters have been checked or replaced, including the cabin air and fuel filters.

Do this now while it is the beginning of the season, because if a storm flares up early most everyone will be caught with their pants down. And if you wait to the very last moment, I may not be here. Because I will be in the only house on my block not in the dark and the only house with cold beer. Hurricanes are real, just like preventive maintenance is real.

During hurricane season maintenance starts on June 1 not only for your vehicle but for your generators. We do it all!!


Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950
Auto Repair, A/C Repair, Oil Change, Brake Repair & Transmission Services