Driving in the rain or on wet roads is never easy or fun as it comes with a set of specific challenges that if not addressed can result in losing control of the vehicle or worse. But there are steps you can take to ensure you are in the best possible condition to drive safely through the rain. As with all things, preparation is key and taking adequate precautions can help you protect your investment and reduce costs in the long run especially if you do not have a garage to keep your car dry. Read on to understand what you can do to drive safely in the rain and prevent unwanted moisture-related issues.
1) Check Your Tyres Treads For Optimal Traction
We all tend to ignore the tyres of our car unless there is an issue. When driving on wet roads the friction between the rubber of the tyre and the road is low as there is a layer of water working as a lubricant agent. This effect is known as hydroplaning. Tyre treads play an important role as the grooves provide a channel for the water to evacuate as quickly and efficiently as possible thereby improving grip. It is advisable to drive slower on wet roads. Ensure the tyres are inflated to the proper PSI and that they are in good physical condition. 8 to 9 millimetres is the average tread depth of a new tyre and anything below 3 mm is considered to be unsafe for driving on wet roads.
2) Windshield Wipers
Windshield wipers are one of the first lines of defence when it rains as they wipe away the water from the windshield to ensure a clear vision of the road ahead. As they are generally used only when it rains, most people put off checking the wiper blades. The rubber blades can develop cracks and leave blurry streaks on your windshield which can impede your vision. New wipers usually last for a year, but repeated heating and cooling can hasten damage. The best way to check the quality of the wipers is to squirt some washer fluid on the windscreen and activate the wipers to see if it works effectively. If not, it is time to replace them, especially before the rains start. Don’t forget the wiper at the back. Remember to top up the washer fluid reservoir with water and washer fluid as it tends to evaporate in hot climates.
3) Brake Testing
Braking your car is a bit tricky when it rains. You will need to apply the brakes much earlier than you would when driving in dry weather in order to ensure that the vehicle comes to a complete stop. Test the stopping capabilities of your brakes on a regular basis and especially before the rainy season as water can get in between the brake shoe and the tyre thereby reducing the friction generated. The more the brake pads are worn out the longer it will take to stop the vehicle. Get your brakes checked and while you are at it check if there are any leaks in the braking system. Under normal circumstances, the brake pedal should only go down halfway for the brakes to be applied and if it goes down more than that you may have a leak or need to top up the brake fluid. Always maintain a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you while driving in the rain.
4) Body And Paint Job
Most car owners only realise there is a leak when it rains and by then it is too late. Rubber seals fitted in the car around the windows, windshields and sunroof can get damaged over time and let water through. If you do identify cracks, you should get them replaced by a professional immediately. There are a few hidden drainage holes in your car that help remove water, but these holes may get blocked by dust or dirt and lead to water getting trapped.
This can lead to the build-up of rust around those areas and should be addressed quickly to prevent further rust damage. Also, check the paint job of your car as exposed metal can develop rust quickly in the rainy season. Paint over these areas to prevent water from coming into contact with the exposed metal.
Get your car waxed after a thorough wash as hard wax will prevent water from penetrating into the paint and corroding the metal underneath. Check the undercarriage for damage from debris that may have come into contact with it while driving. It is advisable to apply a coat of polish on the undercarriage after a thorough wash as it acts as a protective layer.
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5) Servicing Your Car
Getting your car serviced by professionals is a great way to ensure it is ready for the rains. Professional car services will ensure that your car is cleaned thoroughly both inside and out, before applying a protective layer around the vehicle. Get the professionals to check the electrical wiring and battery connections too. Driving in the rain generally consumes more power as you will be using the AC, lights and wipers.
Servicing your AC is important as you cannot roll down the window when it rains for fresh air. The AC replaces the air in your car with fresh air from outside and also helps in defogging your windshield and windows. You should invest in weatherproof floor mats as they do not absorb water which can result in the buildup of mould, mildew, and foul odours. They are easier and cheaper to clean than fabric carpets as you do not need to shampoo them. Whenever possible park your car in a sheltered area such as a garage or carport to avoid rain falling directly on it
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6) Spares And Emergency Kits
Remember to keep an emergency roadside kit, umbrella, a few towels and even spare clothes in a plastic bag which can come in handy in case you need to step out in the rain to fix something. Carrying a power bank to charge your phone could be helpful in case you get stuck somewhere.
Keep a few spare parts in your car such as fuses and windshield wiper blades. Also, check the spare tyre in your car and make sure it is in good condition as tyre blowouts are one of the most common issues during the rainy season due to sharp objects being hidden in puddles on the road. Another great on-the-go protection option is to use a waterproof rain cover if you have no choice but to park your car outside.
7) Check The Lights
When it rains, switching on your lights is a great way of letting other drivers be aware of the position of your car while also improving visibility in front as you drive. Hazard and tail lights help cars behind you keep a track of your vehicle even if visibility is reduced during a heavy downpour. Check if your headlights, fog lights, tail lights, and indicators are all working and if not get those bulbs replaced immediately. If the lights are dim, it could be a problem with your battery. Also, ensure there is no fog build-up on the lenses of your lights.
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