By on August 11, 2020

2006 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx badging in California junkyard, Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

It was a wild weather day in parts of the Midwest yesterday, something that’s to be expected when temps soar and humidity turns your drapes into a damp dishcloth. When violent weather threatens, the first concern is protecting life and limb.

Second on that list? House and home.

Then comes the car.

Of course, depending on how you live your life and where your priorities lie, the car’s health might top all else. A great deal of harm can befall a vehicle when Mother Nature blows her top.

Falling trees, flooding, fist-sized hailstones, flying debris, and tornadic winds can spell the premature end of a beautiful human-machine relationship. Such a tragedy has never occurred to yours truly, but not everyone is so lucky. Sometimes, we just find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time — with nature’s crosshairs placed unwaveringly over a prized piece of rolling stock.

And yes, sometimes it’s a rental. Hope you took out insurance.

Has the natural realm ever taken its fatal vengeance out on your ride? Keep in mind we’re not just talking damage here. We’re talking a death blow — and rust doesn’t count.

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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18 Comments on “QOTD: Death by Natural Causes?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    No, but my son bought a Malibu Maxx and wished mother nature would have taken it out :(

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      I think that era was the nadir of GM cheapo interiors, when GM didn’t even try. I tested the Maxx when it debuted – so bad that I felt sorry for the salesman.

      • 0 avatar
        mr_mike

        Agree… Was excited about the Maxx in theory… It was in practice that I was totally let down. Never bought one, never regretted it.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          …Agree… Was excited about the Maxx in theory… It was in practice that I was totally let down. Never bought one, never regretted it…

          This. On paper this was exciting, the execution was just awful. The interior was damn close to the basement for GM.

          I didn’t have issues with the lines, it looked like a somewhat boxy less attractive Saab to me, but it worked.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        It’s pretty clear they were trying. They just sucked.

        • 0 avatar
          jh26036

          I had a Maxx as a rental car and thought it was a decent car, especially for tall people. Power was adequate. The interior was 2000s GM, so be it. I could have done way worse.

  • avatar
    JMII

    No problems yet, but when hurricanes arrive in S FL I’ve stored a car at a multilevel garage near the mall or casino. Those places are mostly enclosed, covered and once your on level 2 no risk of flooding. However the local authorities have caught onto this trick and now block (with barriers or cones) these parking garages the day before the storm. So its back to leaving the car in the driveway and crossing my fingers. I guess the airport garage is an option but worried the car would get towed… or stolen.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    No death blows have befallen my cars, only a large tree limb falling and resting on the cowl of my Sunbird.

    I worked as a car insurance claims adjuster for a couple years and I work for a power utility now and my former role saw me responding to storm damage reports and identifying what would be needed to restore power.
    I’ve seen things. Nothing worse than a 100 year old tree that sliced through the middle of someone’s house like it was a birthday cake. But I’ve seen more than a handful of completely pancaked and U-shaped cars and trucks. It’s sad and that’s why I cut down all the trees in my yard anywhere near the house or driveway.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    Back in April of 2019 we were hit with a hailstorm, not quite golf ball sized. It came down so hard and thick that the grass was covered, it looked like it had snowed. Both of our vehicles were parked in the driveway, a 2015 Outlander Sport and a 2014 Jetta. In the immediate aftermath of the storm it looked like we had gotten away without damage, no windows or other glass shattered. Later that week when out in the sunshine I realized that both vehicles had a ton of small dimples in the sheet metal.

    The Outlander was the first vehicle that I had personally bought new, and planning to keep it until I could no longer hold it together, I proceeded to file a comprehensive damage claim on it. After dropping it off at the body shop for inspection I awaited a report. There ended up being over 700 dents in the body, and the vehicle was declared a total loss. I was less than a year away from paying off the vehicle, so I owed around 3K on it. A generous offer of nearly 12K for a 2015 with 90K miles left me with a sizeable down payment we applied to a new 2019 Tiguan.

    The 2014 Jetta suffered similar damage, but being a gift from my family I wasn’t too worried about it. After some prompting, I went through a similar process with that vehicle. Numerous dimples declared the vehicle a total loss. I decided to retain the salvage title, and after a lengthy process ended up with a check for more than the total invested in the car, and a reconstructed title with $0 in repair work.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Well yes and no. I did have a large limb fall on my old van with the high top conversion. It shattered the fiberglass in the front corner, cracked the windshield and messed up the hood. It still ran and drove and I did tape up the holes in the roof and continue to use it if needed until I found the replacement.

    A friend had bought a new Escort GT shortly after she graduated college and got a real job. She had it about a year and went to visit her mother who was in the hosipital. That hospital’s campus is covered in large old trees. Of course this was during one of our late fall early winter wind storms. She parked the car, made it into the building and up to her mother’s room. When she got to her room her mother asked her to look out the window because she had just heard a crash. My friend looked out to see a ~3′ diameter tree and fallen right down the middle of her car. It crushed the roof down to the hood level and the seats were both splayed out as the roof coming down pushed them to the sides.

    Had she been in the car chances are slim that she would have survived.

  • avatar
    justVUEit

    We had an “almost”. A bad ice storm crept up and was leaving a coating on everything. I did a fast cleaning and got the cars worth tens of thousands of dollars inside and the junk worth at most tens of dollars outside. Sure enough, a large limb decided it had enough ice on it, coming down and starting a cascade of events that left the driveway littered with trees and branches, all large enough to have caused considerable damage. One hit the corner of the house and did significant damage to the roof. The junk worth at most tens of dollars got tossed out with the rest of the damaged roofing material. The trees and linbs burned nice in the woodstove the following year.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    After I bought my house the city planted oak trees on my parkway, didn’t tell me I could have opted out and now they’re “protected” and cannot be trimmed .

    California has very few tornadoes (interestingly they always find trailer parks) but we do get 100 MPH wind storms every fall and the damage done by oak trees is considerable .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Had a near miss a year ago. I had told the next neighbor, months before, that one of their 40 ft + pine trees was leaning further into my yard. They said they would have a crew trim it. For reasons that I have not been able to figure, I moved my classic/cult van about 30 ft from where it was parked. A few days later the tree broke near the ground and fell. It would have smashed the van to half height. Instead it wrecked my friend’s classic/cult Saab.
    There were further discussions with the neighbor about other trees that were leaning. Nothing was done except what I had a crew do. They trimmed off all the limbs that were leaning over the fence. Not cheap as they needed their bucket truck to work 30+ ft up.
    Another tree broke and fell about a month ago. This one hit other trees and a fence. Next one to fall will likely hit their house, which I pointed out to them. When they had a crew remove the downed tree a few weeks ago nothing was done with the other trees.
    So far the neighbor has weaseled out of paying for the Saab. Insurance company said it was an “act of God/nature”.

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