Local repair, body shops have advice to avoid storm damage next time

A car damaged during the recent winter storm at the start of 2018.

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – From sideswipes to broken axles to major collision damage, business is brisk at local service and collision centers.

Every lift was full Tuesday at AAA Tidewater’s Car Care Center on Virginia Beach Boulevard in Norfolk. A broken CV axle was lying on the floor. Operations manager Kyle Loftus says it was the result of spinning tires on a front-wheel drive car.

“When it does catch and we get traction, the other tire is then forced very quickly to catch up to the same speed, breaking the CV axle.”

Over at Micar Collision Center in Greenbrier, cables dangle from a door where a mirror was ripped from its mount. Body panels are crunched like aluminum foil, and a customer climbs over his center console because his front end collision has jammed the driver’s door shut.

General manager Danny Melchers and about 20 other employees are trying to keep up with an ever-increasing workload. “With it being such a heavy snow, we have a lot of cases where parts are ripped off the car,” Melchers said.

Loftus says don’t ever think it’s OK to bump or jump a curb to avoid snow or stranded cars. “When you actually hit a curb, all the impact is going on to the suspension and the tires. We’re seeing a lot of broken tie rod ends, the reason being it’s metal, it’s cold outside and it’s a really hard impact hit.”

A pile of batteries is getting bigger by the day at AAA. Loftus says they’ve replaced more than 500 in just the past six days. He advises having you car battery checked now for cranking power and clean terminals so your car won’t die in the next storm.

In the meantime, Melchers has a tip for the best way to remove the salt and road grit from your car. Rinse it thoroughly with plain old water before you apply any pressure from a cloth or sponge — that way you won’t be grinding anything abrasive into your paint finish.