The approach of dark clouds signal a respite from the heat of the summer. However, once everything cools down, the rains turn into annoyances with constant waterlogging and frequent traffic jams. The chances of getting into an accident also increase with visibility and road traction reducing significantly While you can’t predict when the rain will fall, you can follow these maintenance tips to prepare your car for the rains and also stay safe on the roads by introducing a few changes into your driving habit.
1). Check up and Servicing
Your car has undergone great vagaries during the summer months, tolerating the scorching heat during those long drives when the sun rays were dazzling. Thus, the best idea would be to take your car to a garage for a proper checkup. Servicing is essential before your vehicle is made to face all the waterlogged roads, and heavy traffic zones. Make sure that the service centre performs a good check on the car’s battery and brakes.
2). Change the wipers
Ensure that the wipers are in good condition. Wiper blades can wear out fast, if used regularly and might become hard due to the oily fumes and dust resulting in scratches and uneven cleaning of the windshield. If the wiper blades are not working as they should, then a simple change of both blades is required to ensure even wiping throughout the monsoon downpours. Another prudent thing to do would be to keep the wiper liquid filled to the brim at all the times. Visibility would also be hampered by the fog that develops on the windshield. To get rid of it, direct the flow of the air-conditioner onto the windshield.
3). Check the headlights and fog lights
Since visibility is affected during the monsoon season, it is advised to make sure that the headlights, taillights, and fog-lights are well maintained. Check for cracks or breakage on the glass of the lights to make sure water does not enter the light assemblies and cause unwanted fuses, which could be dangerous for you and your fellow commuters. Do not forget to carry a few spare fuses in your toolkit, and make sure that all the external wires for the lights and fog lamps are properly insulated. Undoubtedly, these lights will be your saviour during a heavy downpour.
4). Anti-Corrosion Treatment
A car’s metal frame protects the internal parts from moisture. If your car is getting on in age, an anti corrosion treatment will help protect the chassis from corroding moisture. You can also opt for an anti-rust spray or coating under the body of the vehicle. To protect the car’s paint, it is highly recommended to get a wax coating done before the rains hit, as alternate wet and dry spells can cause the paint to peel and fade. Coat the car’s battery terminals with anti-corrosion grease to protect it from rust.
5). Check Tire Pressure
Be certain that the tires (even the spare), have good pressure levels. The treads should be of good depth (more than 2mm). The grooves on a tire help in quick dispersal of water from between the road and the tire contact patch. Thus, a worn-out tire, with no tread would result in compromised grip and stability, and increases the chances of skidding or aquaplaning on wet surfaces.
Aquaplaning or hydroplaning by the tires of a road vehicle, aircraft or other wheeled vehicle occurs when a layer of water builds between the wheels of the vehicle and the road surface, leading to a loss of traction that prevents the vehicle from responding to control inputs.
There may be instances when you may not be able to see a pothole (which are to be encountered on Indian roads), and low tire pressure would lead to frequent tire punctures. An under-inflated tire would put more stress on the sidewall of the tire, multiplying two-folds the chances of a puncture. However, an over-inflated tire would reduce the surface area of contact of the tire with the road. This would make the car prone to aquaplaning, thus complicating matters even more. So, it would be best to maintain the tire pressure as per the recommended value.
6). For Braking Troubles
The brakes of your car are the worst victims of the rainy season. Water often seeps into them, leading to significant reduction in braking power and efficiency. Thus it has to be ensured that the brake oil level is correct and the handbrake functions properly. There would be situations while driving on the wet and slippery road that you would have to hit on the brakes quite unexpectedly. While driving through water clogged streets, push the brake a couple of times to generate heat in the brake rotors; this will help in dry the brakes and give sufficient stopping power when you need it the most.
7). Some Driving Tips
Points to remember
- It is advised to not drive at high speeds during the monsoon due to the problem of aquaplaning/hydroplaning. This is when a layer of water forms in between the road and the tires; this can result in the loss of friction. Crashes due to aquaplaning often occur at high speeds.
- Keep a balance between the clutch and the accelerator while driving through deep puddles or patches of water.
- Maintain adequate distance from other vehicles ahead of you.
- If it rains cats and dogs, and the visibility reaches near zero, the best option would be to pullover and wait for the downpour to stop or at least turn to a drizzle.
- Revving the engine is recommended so that the water is forced out of the exhaust.
- If you can, look up for alternative routes which may not have waterlogging. But if you have no choice, then make certain that your car is slotted in the first/second gear before entering the water.
- Always switch on the headlights and the tail lights when visibility is poor. This, in addition to providing you a clear view, will also make your car visible to other drivers on road.