Drive Safer: Tips for the monsoons

July 4th, 2015

Keeping it simple. Generating these points from my experience and love for automobiles, driving and sharing knowledge.

Some driving tips during the monsoons.

1. Your car might feel like a boat. But it is not. Avoid driving through water-clogged areas. Apart from the risks you run about water hitting the engine or your brakes, you will not be able to judge the depth of potholes or spot an open drain. In which case, chances are you might get stuck.

2. If you can’t help driving through a water-logged region, make sure the water does not rise above half the tyre-height.

3. Do not drive fast through water. Not only do you splash water on others around you, the air-dams in the front of the car are designed to direct air drafts towards the engine that help keep it cool. So there are greater chances, the same air dams are going to direct water towards the engine, and your vehicle might stall.

4. Shift into low gear, keep your foot on the accelerator and use the clutch to control the speed of the vehicle. This makes sure the exhaust air is moving outwards, reducing chances of water entering the engine through the exhaust system. DO NOT LIFT YOUR FOOT FROM THE ACCELERATOR as the action of slowing down the engine might create suction from the exhaust system. THIS ALSO MEANS, DRIVE SLOWLY, so you do not have to apply brakes, that might also be wet. For those who drive automatics, shift into the low drive modes, D1 or D2.

5. In case your vehicle stalls, do not try to crank it. After water has hit the engine, cranking it further will create more damage. Your service center can detect whether you attempted to crank the engine after water has hit it. It will void warranty and increase service costs. It costs a minimal extra to insure your vehicle for flooding, and most policies will cover the cost of service as well as towing charges, in case your vehicle stalls in the water. So make a call to roadside assistance or your service station.

Some precautions:

1. Check your tyres and air pressure. It’s a great misnomer among Indian drivers, that only two tyres need to be good in a vehicle. Two wheels are good for two-wheelers. Four wheels must be good for four-wheelers. Confirm you have adequate grip by checking out the wear markers, or by inserting a Rs. 5 coin vertically between the grooves and they are at least half a coin deep.

2. Check the brakes. Brakes wear out faster during adverse conditions. In case you have driven through a water logged area in the past few days, it might be a good step to have the lining inspected by an experienced mechanic.

3. The wipers. Although, very cursory – many of us do not realise when it’s time to change them. Consult your service advisor or an experienced mechanic in case you are not sure. Try the windshield wash-wipe – basically the wipers (both of them and the rear one if your vehicle is equipped) should be wiping the screen clean with every wipe. Keep the washer-fluid topped up, as while driving through a misty condition, you might need to frequently wash the screen.

4. The headlights and fog lamps. It’s a good practice to keep them on during rainy, cloudy or foggy conditions. They might not actively enhance your visibility in daylight, but they will make your vehicle more visible to other vehicles and pedestrians.

5. Check the exhaust system. A faulty exhaust system can prove to be a serious cause to injury, as it can allow exhaust fumes to enter the passenger cabin (often been the cause of fatalities) due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Other tips:

1. Check the carpets regularly. They will help you identify any leakages in the floor, or plug the drainage holes in the underbody. Carpet mats are better than rubber or plastic floor mats – they help keep the vehicle interiors dry, although might seem less practical to maintain.

2. Do not over chill the interiors with air-conditioning. It will cause fogging on the exterior of the windows, which will reduce visibility. Use the defogger if your vehicle is equipped with one. Try to regulate the interior temperature of the vehicle within approximately 5 degrees of external temperature with air conditioning. Air conditioning will keep the interiors dry and prevent internal fogging of the screens.

We now have a group focussing on Automotive Safety. As people contribute their knowledge, will append to this post. If you’re motivated, do join at http://www.facebook.com/groups/DriveSafer

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