It’s that time of the year again. The rains are here and with it come a fresh set of issues to deal with. There are plenty of precautions to take. We’ll just stick to some handy ones which will not only ensure that you have a safe drive during the monsoons, but also make sure your car stays trouble free all through the rains.
Here is a list of things to watch out for and do during the rains.
Wiper and washer condition
The windscreen wipers are one of the most important components of your car during the rains. Ideally, one should replace wiper blades every year before the rain starts. Go for a good quality wiper brand, matching the size on your car. Check the wipers for cracking of the rubber and replace them if they do not do a clean sweep across your windshield. Make sure your windshield washer bottle is filled up. You can also add a mild detergent to it keep the glass clean and oil free. Check if the spray nozzles directly hit the windscreen, and adjust them with a pin if needed.
Tyres are the only point of contact with the road and the tread on the tyre is what helps in clearing water away from the road so that they can get a better contact patch. Ensure you have adequate tread depth on your tyres. The minimum depth is 1 mm of tread, but do replace your tyres if they are old and worn. Don’t forget to check the spare tyre as well. Get your wheels balanced and aligned before the rains and keep your tyre pressure at its optimum or about 2 psi lower for a better contact patch. Drive at sedate speeds and slow down when crossing puddles. If you hit a puddle at speed, it can cause your car to aquaplane, skidding out of control.
Check the brakes
Ideally, you should get the car serviced before the rains if possible. Check the condition of the brakes. If the pads need replacing it would be better to do it before the rains. Also when you do drive through puddles of water in the rain, pump the brakes lightly after you cross the puddle to dry them out, as wet brake pads, mixed with oily grime on the discs, can be quite scary. Don’t follow the car ahead too closely, as braking distance increases quite a bit in rain.
Protect the car
Before the rains start, apply a good wax polish to your car. This will protect the paint and help in beading of water on the car, allowing water to roll off easily. Grease all the door locks and components under the car that can be greased, such as the gear linkages, propeller shaft, etc. Check the condition of the battery, top-up if needed, and apply a coat of petroleum jelly to the terminals. Also carry a can of anti-moisture spray like WD40, Rustlick, Zorric etc, as this will help dispel moisture from critical components like spark plugs and coils, in case they come in contact with water. More importantly, this will prevent rusting on exposed metal parts. Spray some WD40 on electrical contact points that are likely to come in contact with water, such as the horn and lights wiring.
Check all lights
Visibility can be drastically reduced in the rains. Make sure all the lights in your car work. Carry spare bulbs and fuses if you can. In the interest of safety of you and others, it’s always advisable to keep your headlights or parking lamps on depending on the intensity of the downpour. Don’t use the hazard flashers (as many do), as this confuses other drivers as they may think your car has stalled. It also becomes difficult for you to signal a turn if your hazard lights are on, and can lead to mishaps. Use hazard lights only in an emergency or if you have to stop on the road for any reason.
Check the air conditioning
The AC is quite important during the rains as it can prevent your car’s glasses from fogging up. To effectively use the demister function in cars with manual HVAC, set the blower speed to low, turn the vent control to the windscreen, set the air control to fresh air (in smelly areas, you can use recirculation mode also), and turn on the AC. This will ensure the windscreen does not fog up. If you live in a very cold area, you can still use the demister, just set the temperature control to a higher degree, but keep the AC condenser switch on, as it dries out the air.
Watch out for rodents
During the rains all the creepy crawlies and rodents go looking for shelter. And what better place than the warm, felt-covered confines of a car engine, with some juicy wires to chew on? Try and park your car in an area that’s not rat infested. Also spray the insides of the fenders and under the door sills with an insecticide spray to prevent ants and termites from making nests. Get rid of dry leaves and muck that tend to accumulate in the drain channels of the car (behind the fenders, under the windscreen vents, around the bonnet and boot edges). If rats are a problem try placing a trap each night under the car with some rat poison cake or place some small pouches of smelly tobacco around the engine bay to deter rodents.
Carry tools and spares
Some essential tools and spares you need to carry in the car during monsoons include the jack, jack handle, wheel spanner, spare tyre, spare fuses, spare bulbs, lubricant spray, jumper cable, tow rope, first-aid kit, warning triangle and cleaning cloth.
Once you’ve checked all these points, just stock up on your favorite music, leave early, drive sedately, and most of all enjoy the rains. You and your car will have a happy monsoon.