Rain. Snow. Sleet. Wind. Driving in inclement weather can be dangerous. But there’s one weather condition that may supersede them all: hail. It forms when drops of water freeze together in thunderstorm clouds, creating chunks of ice. It can be downright scary — especially when it becomes the size of golf balls — and can do quite a bit of damage.

But into every life a little hail must fall, so heed these steps to avoid hail damage to your car.

1. Don’t drive in hail

Okay, this one’s a given, but it deserves notice. Check the forecast, and if hail’s imminent, park your car in a garage or covered parking when possible.

2. Seek cover

If you’re out and the hail starts, find the nearest covered location, whether that’s a parking garage, a gas station overhang, or any other area that’ll protect your car.

If you’re on the freeway, you might be tempted to pull off to the side of the road underneath an overhead bridge to wait it out, but don’t do it. Too many cars under a short overpass can block the road and put other drivers in harm’s way.

3. Make an impromptu cover

If you can’t find any cover, pull over where it’s safe and create a makeshift car cover. You could, for example, put your floor mats over your windshield to absorb the pressure and keep it from cracking. Or you might cover the hood and top of your car with a blanket. Other vulnerable areas include your taillights and side windows. And cover yourself, too, just in case the hail causes a window to break despite your best efforts.

4. Use a car cover regularly

While it’s not always possible to find covered parking, keeping your car safe from the elements can prevent all kinds of damage, like the beating rays of the sun. But if your area is experiencing thunderstorms, it’s even more important to park your car under cover in case a hail storm whips up.

A car cover can also be a smart purchase that helps prevent damage from multiple kinds of weather. If the hail is prolonged, you can get ultra-creative as some folks in Texas did during a recent hail storm. They pulled out all the stops to protect their vehicles with everything from bubble wrap to pool noodles, floaties, and mattresses.

Another way to protect your car? Comprehensive coverage. It helps guard your car against a host of issues like theft and vandalism, and, yep, even hail damage.

Safe and smart | Car safety

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about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.