HOUSTON — When Hurricane Harvey struck southeast Texas in late August, it shattered rainfall records, brought deadly flooding and destroyed as many as a million cars and trucks.
Today, the din of repair work is the background music for Houston area dealerships — and their service departments — that were hit hardest.
The Houston Automobile Dealers Association says 12 of its 175 member dealerships sustained damage from Harvey. The association did not estimate the cost of that damage.
Ruined-vehicle inventories were cleared out fairly quickly and replaced by new stock — thanks in part to the prompt response of manufacturers and insurers — enabling sales to resume. But some fixed operations have had a tougher recovery.
At shops in Harvey's path, flooding ruined or heavily damaged scan tools, tire-mounting machines, frame straighteners, alignment racks and floor sweepers. Transformers blew. Parts that had been left on the floor or lower shelves became junk.
Charles Hudson is a service technician at McRee Ford in the Houston suburb of Dickinson, which for a time was under a mandatory evacuation order. He says that floodwater invaded his large roller tool chest, soaking everything and doing $20,000 worth of damage.
"I cleaned what I could," Hudson told Fixed Ops Journal. "But I lost my Snap-on electric drill and voltmeter, as well as a Matco electric impact wrench. They're ruined."
McRee Ford's free-standing Quick Lane center and its 14 service bays were inundated by 3 feet of water. The dealership has moved express-service operations into the main shop while the Quick Lane is gutted and rebuilt. McRee's collision center was closed for five weeks.
Cindy Bates, a parts counter employee at the dealership, says McRee's main parts operations and inventory fared well, adding that the parts department went back to work soon after the floodwater in the main shop was removed.
The dealership's foresight in moving parts that were stored at or below knee height to higher locations, and putting containers of motor oil on lifts that then were raised prevented even more losses, Bates says.