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How to Care for yo...

June 19, 2010 00:00

With the onset of Monsoon in India, a tough season starts for our cars. Cars are exposed to severe conditions like rains, floods, falling of trees, etc. This manifests itself in the car through various means, such as denting of car body, water entering to engine compartment, affected interiors, etc. which may ultimately cumulate in the stalling of the car’s engine.

While your car may be insured, the best thing to do is definitely to prevent damage altogether, saving money and time.

Let’s take a look today at how to take care of your car during the monsoon. This article is divided into three sections, Pre-Monsoon, During Monsoon and After the Monsoon

Pre Monsoon

Before the monsoon, it is important to make sure the car is in physically optimal condition to face the monsoon. Almost all manufacturers undertake free monsoon check-up campaigns, which would take care of all the checks to be done according to a checklist and they also give a report of condition of vehicle.

However, for some general guidelines:

  1. Make sure the vehicle service has been done as per schedule
     
  2. Check when the last antirust coating was done. If it’s more than year, getting antirust coating all over the car’s under-body and under the hood is very essential.
     
  3. Check the tyre condition. If the grip is less due to worn out tyre, it has to be replaced immediately,
     
  4. When giving the car for service, insist on making sure all the drain plugs provided in the body, under the seats and the floor-mats are closed. In case of any one missing plug, the interiors are bound to get spoiled due to slightest flooding on road.
     
  5. Check for proper working of all lights such as Head light, Tail lamp, Fog lamp, Indicators, reverse light etc.
     
  6. Ensure a proper parking place. It should have good roofing, with limited or no exposure to moisture. In case the car has to be parked outside with no roofing, a regular cleaning of car body should serve the purpose.
     
  7. Do make sure the car is in optimal condition – you don’t want to be stranded during heavy rains!
     

During the Monsoon

Here some tips to be followed to ensure safe driving and maintenance of car during monsoon rains.

Plan your journey

Plan your journey before you take out your car. Make sure you avoid roads with frequent flooding, traffic heavy roads, roads with lot of ditches and manholes, and roads without proper path dividers and footpaths. Such roads tend to water log and become dangerous, jammed, and less visible.

Though we cannot know when and how rain comes, with good amount of awareness, we can avoid not only damages to the car but also reach our destination fast and safe.

If you are planning to take the car for city driving, check out the probable condition of road you would be travelling. If required, a longer route would be more favorable than a narrow road leading to very frequent traffic jams. Remember that in the City, there is always chance of traffic jams during rains, be it due to falling of a tree branch or a broke down bus.

However if you have to go through such routes, please do ensure that there is adequate fuel in the car .Never take out the car with fuel just sufficient for the planned distance of travel - there must be adequate reserve of fuel in the car, lest you become the cause of the traffic jams!

Equip your car with good of accessories

Equip your car with good accessories to tackle any kind of bad situations. For example, a defogger and a rear windshield wiper help a lot for driving during rains. If you have a FM radio, use it to get a traffic updation during peak hours.

Keep a car cover in the boot of the car. This would be of use any time you need to park the car for a long time in rainy conditions. A properly working hazard warning light will also help a lot during rainy conditions, and even more so a hazard warning triangle which ensures that a stopped vehicle can be noticed from long distance.

A first aid kit is always a necessary thing to have in the car – be it rainy season or summer. But in monsoon, having a small umbrella in the car would be useful for getting out of the car and moving to a safer place.

Another good tip is keeping some emergency food items like biscuits and bottles of water in your car.

Driving in City

You have done all preparations and now you are moving out to your destination. How to get going?

When you start the car, check out for proper working of all lights, wiper, brake functioning etc. Drive the car with of attention and calmness. You can always drive the car when there are moderate rains and road conditions are good. The risk factor arises when there are stormy rains and the road conditions are bad. If there are heavy stormy rains, it’s recommended to park the car in suitable place like that of a plain land with adequate for rain water to flow away.

A tougher situation is when you are driving in city roads, there is heavy rains and road starts flooding and there is no proper place for parking the car. In this kind of situations there is no other go than to drive the car. However following guidelines like maintaining lane discipline would not only help for safer driving but also avoids traffic jams which if happens worsens the situation. So make sure you think of others!

Driving on Highways

Before taking out the car for long drives, ensure the car is in optimal condition. Check if all pre-monsoon maintenance has been carried out. When you drive your car on highways during rains, you will need to give extra attention. Remember: a slower and safer journey would always be a better option than faster and risky driving.

Keep your headlights and hazard warning lights on, and do not overtake the vehicle from left. You may have noticed taxi vehicles driving with high speed and overtaking from right. This kind of careless driving is not only dangerous for the driving car but also leads to panic of the other vehicle, especially in high speed.

Also remember that visibility would be affected during rains, even if you are using the best of defoggers. Give proper signals like horn and indicators, when the situation demands to overtake from left.

If there are stormy rains, it’s always recommended to park the car at suitable place. While driving on highways, it won’t be difficult to find suitable place to park the car. A Petrol bunk or a toll fee junction or cross road junction nearby a town should be the best place to rest for a while and move once the weather condition favours safe driving.

Flooding

The worst situation is that, you are driving the car and roads get flooded, for example in very heavy rains or in a low lying area. You can drive the car if the water level is limited to the height of axle shaft. If it increases beyond that limit, the best thing to do is to stop the car and put a hazard warning triangle on top of the car. Driving the car with water entering the engine compartment will always lead to multiple problems in the functioning of car, up to and including seizure of rings.

Never start the car if the car has undergone flooding with water entering engine compartment. The best thing to do is to call the breakdown service and get the car pulled to service station. The same rule applies for cars parked under basement of flats which have experienced flooding. The car should then only be started after proper cleaning and repair

Post Monsoon

Once the monsoon season is clearly over, take the car for general check up. Attention has to be paid to the under chassis for any stains or rust formation, hits by stones, humps etc which can always happen while driving on water clogged roads.

A capable engineer will tell you what repairs are needed. If you have taken care, this should be very limited.

Conclusion

The toughest time for driving cars in India, is during the monsoon season, especially in the city. Even if we follow all rules, regulations and tips, there is always an element of risk involved in driving and maintenance of vehicles. The above tips should allow you to at least minimize that.

But always ensure to use your best judgement at all times, and remember, better be safe than sorry!

We have covered several ideas for safer driving and maintenance of car. Still, there can always be more ideas for safer driving and maintenance of cars. We welcome our readers to share their experience on how they handled their car in past and present monsoon seasons.

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