Last Updated at
- 09:36 am, June 28, 2011
We guide you on how to prepare and maintain your car this rainy season
We all love the rains, don’t we? Driving with friends and family to a mountain top or to a water fall on a moderately rainy day has its own charm. But a simple breakdown can ruin the beauty of the drive. The rain becomes a nuisance in such a scenario and gets even worse if the breakdown happens on a weekday when you are rushing to office.
A constant downpour and wet roads can make life difficult for you and your car. It’s a good idea to prepare your car for the monsoons – not only to prevent it from breaking down, but also to avoid accidents and mishaps that the rains can cause. Over the next few pages, we’ll take you through a few tips that should help you and your car tackle the monsoons with ease...
Protecting the Body Work
Let us start of by taking care of the body work. It is a good idea to give the car’s exteriors a through wax-polish every weekend as opposed to a usual monthly polish. The rain has a tendency to wash away the polish / coat that necessitate the shorter periodicity. The wax polish / coat will, to an extent, prevent the car’s paintwork from getting scratched and torn due to the sharp particles in the muck that gets splattered on the bodywork.
If your paint already has cuts in it due to dings and dents, it is recommended that you get the blemished part treated. Rain water can enter these cuts and the constant presence of moisture can lead to rusting. If you stay in a sea-side place like Mumbai, then the presence of road salts can also lead to corrosion of the metal under such paint cuts. It is also recommended that the car be washed thoroughly every now and then to clean out any road salts that may be piling up in the nooks and corners of your car.
Get rid of the fog
No, we aren’t asking you to go out on the road and blow the fog away. Instead, we are talking about the fogging that happens inside the car’s windshield. It can hamper visibility to a large extent and lead to a mishap if not paid heed to. The best way to get rid of the windshield fog is by directing the flow of the air-conditioner onto the windshield. However, you need to ensure that the air conditioning system is running healthy. It is a good idea to get the A/C checked for functionality and also for the level of the A/C gas.
If your car doesn’t have an air conditioning system, then you can maintain the airflow inside the cabin by keeping the windows slightly open. To prevent rain drops from falling into the cabin in such a scenario, get window visors fit on your vehicle. These can cost between Rs 400 to Rs 2,500 depending upon make and model.
Just the way it is important to have clear visibility of the road you are driving on, it is also important to be visible to the oncoming traffic, as there is a fair chance that they might still be driving with fogged up windshields. For ensuring maximum visibility of your car to others, make sure that the headlights and taillights are in proper working condition. If your car boasts of fog lights, check them for proper functionality too.
Also make sure that the headlight / taillight / fog-light glass doesn’t have any cracks or breakage on them. The rain water can seep through these openings and accumulate inside the unit. The water logging in these components can lead to short circuits of the related electric components.
While driving in the rains, be a responsible commuter and refrain from using the upper beam (high beam) unless it is extremely important. The upper beam can hamper the vision of the oncoming traffic more than usual due to the presence of fog / water on the windshield surface. Remember, your negligence or reluctance can lead to a mishap for people around you.
Check for leaks
Hitting an unexpected pothole is a regular affair in the rains, thanks to the water logging on the roads. The sudden impact or under-body scrapes caused by such potholes or bumps can cause damage to the coolant routing, oil sump or exhaust system. Therefore it is necessary to check the under-body of the car for leaks, especially when a constant downpour can act like a decoy for these sneaky leaks.
To begin, wash the car’s under-body thoroughly and wait for it to dry out. After it does, check if the car is dripping any liquids on the floor. Coolant is generally green, blue or yellowish in colour. Oil on the other hand can be red, golden or black depending on brand and age. Oil drops create a multicolour halo when they fall on wet surface. A damaged exhaust system will cause a change in the exhaust note of the car. If any of these scenarios occur, it is time for you to summon a mechanic. If the fluids have drained out more than minimum level required for the car’s operation, you are running the risk of seizing your car’s engine.
Battery Check and Jumper cables
The most common breakdowns during the rains are the ones caused by a weak battery. A weak or dead battery will not only prevent your car from starting up, it also runs the risk to jamming the brakes and the steering since both these components make use of hydraulics that need charge for their operation. Start by getting you battery checked from a service centre and get it re-charged if necessary. If the battery is about to go kaput, replacing it is advisable.
If your car’s battery is running healthy, but is old, it is recommended that you keep a pair of jumper cables handy. In case your car’s battery turns its back on you, you could still get the engine and electronics running by giving your car a jump start.
Boot and Door beadings
Your car’s water drainage channels – usually found under the bonnet, the boot lid, and alongside the door and window panels - provide refuge to dead bugs, little twigs, dry leaves, seeds, seeds or fruits and pretty much all the small ounces of vegetation that surround your parking space. Since water runs down these channels during the rains, the silt tends to retain a lot of moisture. Over a period of time, the moisture and toxins from the dead bugs and leaves can lead to rusting and corrosion. Not to mention the pungent odour as well. It is highly recommended that you clean these water drainage channels frequently to avoid rust and corrosion setting in.
Also run a check on the rubber beading that sits around these channels as the summers that preceded the monsoon may have led these linings to go loose. Loose beadings will allow the rain water to seep in and if not attending in good time, can lead to damaging of the car’s interiors.
Windshield and wipers
A significant component that is often ignored is the set of windshield wiper blades. After standing in sunlight all day, the wiper blades tend to become hard and chapped, after which they not only become inefficient in wiping the water off the windshield, but also tend to leave tiny scratches on the glass. These little scratches are what bloat up the oncoming headlights’ beams into unnerving glares, making it difficult to concentrate on the road on a rainy night.
A simple solution is to replace the blades at regular intervals and adding a scratch resistant film on the windshield to reduce chances of such wiper-induced damage. While you can avoid the fogging up of the windshield, there is little you can do about the scratches and cracks – so if your windshield has too many scratches or has a crack on it, make an appointment with a windshield expert. As for the wipers, it would be best to shift to something like the Bosch AeroTwin wipers. We will have more details on the AeroTwin wipers in the accessories section next week!
Keep the mud-flaps in place
If you were not fortunate enough to own a car and were still commuting on a two wheeler, would you like a car spraying muck all over you just because the driver was reluctant to install a set of mud-flaps? You surely wouldn’t, neither would the commuting bikers around you. So be a matured, responsible bloke and get the mud flaps fitted.
It will also prevent the tyres from splattering slush onto your car’s doors and bumpers and will, in turn, reduce the chances of the sharp particles in the mud from scratching your car’s bodywork.
Last but not the least, are the wheels and with them, the tyres and the brakes. No matter how well maintained the rest of your car is, these components are the only things that connect you and your car to the road. So if either of these are in a bad mood, believe me, you are in trouble!
It’s good to start off by checking for the tyre wear. If the grooves don’t look too promising, get the tyres checked from an expert. In some cases, the grooves may look deep enough but considerable age on the rubber may lead to hairline cracks. These could meet a similar fate in the rains as the other cracks, dings and paint-cuts might. Moreover, such an old tyre will hardly offer any grip on the half-wet road conditions that a typical rainfall aftermath offers. Get your tyres checked and replaced if necessary to avoid any grip related mishaps.
The brakes, either drum or disc, won’t perform well when wet. It is a good idea to let them warm up in the initial few kilometres of your commute before you gather speed and expect them to work at an optimum level. Also make sure that your car undergoes a brief session with a wheel alignment expert as the potholes tend to misalign the wheels, which can lead to hampered steering.
The most hazardous aspect of the rains is aquaplaning. Simply put, when your car enters a puddle at a high speed, the tyres lose contact with the road surface and try to grip the surface of water. Since your car’s tyres can’t do that, the vehicle may lose control at the drop of a hat. Crashes due to aquaplaning often occur at high speeds and are fatal. We don’t have any tricks or advice to offer you here other than to ask you to refrain from any heroic acts when approaching a water puddle for there is little you can do when a car decides to act like a surfboard. Stay tuned to OnCars.in for over the next few weeks. We’ll be bring you more detailed articles on the monsoon maintenance tips that we gave you.
First Published on 09:36 am, June 28, 2011
Rohit (Rash) Paradkar
He is called "Rash" for a reason. He loves his toys, this boy. If it's cool, he's either got it or most probably gotten tired of it by the time you've discovered it. His one dear aim is to convert every Windows and Android user into a customer for Apple.