The arrival of the monsoons brings a lot of relief and cheer to the people at large. Poems have been written on it and have been romanticized in many Indian films. But this is one season that vehicle drivers dread because of the dangers that come with it, either in the form of bad roads or breakdowns.
Bad roads like pot holes, open and overflowing drains, traffic jams due to vehicle breakdowns or trees falling etc. are not within our control but preventing breakdowns of the vehicle we drive can, to a large extent, be controlled by us. And that is why we need to prepare our vehicles for the hazards of the monsoons.
Driving in the monsoon rains can be hazardous and could lead to physical and financial damage to you and maybe others. So how do you try and prevent such a situation. As stated earlier, some things are beyond our control but what we can control is what we should look at.
First and foremost, one must ensure that the vehicle is rain-worthy by checking the essential items in them. Let us look at what these essentials are, what should be done about it and how serious are the consequences of neglecting them.
During the rains one needs to be careful in driving on wet roads. Check your tyres. Regular check of the tyre pressure should be a mandatory exercise for safe driving. See that your tyre treads are not worn out. If the tyre treads are not deep enough or unevenly worn out you may be in trouble driving on wet roads. Good condition tyres with the proper pressure dispel rain water from the tyres. If this does not happen then there is danger of aquaplaning or, in common terms, skidding thus making the vehicle to go out of control, especially, during braking in an emergency.
The risk of aquaplaning is directly proportional to the depth of the stagnant or running water. The more the depth, the lesser is the grip of the tyres on the road surface. This is why one needs to be careful in driving on wet roads and especially during the first rains.
Brakes & Clutch
Brakes on the vehicle are your safety instrument in a crash or when a sudden obstacle comes in front of you. If the brakes are not in order, you are sure to end up knocking down someone or another vehicle or any obstacle in front. This could lead to a minor or major accident, with loss of life or money or both. Brake discs, pads, lining and fluid are integral parts of the braking system. Ensure they are in perfect working order, more so during the rains. When the brakes get wet due to rain water on the road, it will make a squeaking noise when you apply the brakes. You must be careful at this time and regulate your speed. On dry surface, if you need to test your brakes then, on an open road with no vehicle following you, apply the brakes really hard. If your vehicle veers off at a tangent then you need to check the brakes.
Windscreen (Front & Rear) & Wipers
The main function of the windscreen is to provide you visibility when you drive. Both the front and rear windscreen or as the American say, windshield, needs to be cleaned before you set out. Dust from the road, fuel and oil vapours from the vehicles gets deposited on the windscreen making visibility difficult. Never drive with a dirty or a foggy windscreen. It is an invitation to disaster. When you drive you need visibility through both the front and rear windscreens. The front shows you the lay of the road and if it is obstacle-free while the rear tells you if there are any other vehicles following you and how close they are.
Use the wipers to clean the screens both front and rear but first ensure that they are dust and grime free. Otherwise with the wiper solution that is sprayed on the windscreen it will tend to muddy it and the screen could get scratchy. A scratched up windscreen will dissipate the light coming from the oncoming vehicle during night, creating a parallax image and obstructing clearer vision; it is a major cause for accidents.
Clean the wipers regularly and change them when they start leaving scratch marks on the screen. Use recommended wiper solutions only and do not use un-filtered or tap water as this could leave sediments on the glass. A trick to make your windscreen look sparkling clean and to de-fog it is to slice a potato in half and rub the raw end on the windscreen in an even vertical motion., but first ensure that the glass is clean and free of dirt. You may also rub tobacco from a cigarette or non-gel toothpaste on the glass and then wash and dry with a clean soft cloth for similar results.
Head Lights & Fog lamps
High beam and low beam feature of the vehicle headlights have different functions. Ensure both are in working condition and do not give up on you. Use low beam in areas which are generally well lit like in the cities whereas high beam is to be used on highways and in areas that are not sufficiently lit up or not at all. You cannot, however, use high beam always while driving at night. Just as you would like to see the oncoming vehicles clearly, the ones coming from the opposite side also need to do the same. If you blind them with your high beam you may cause an accident. Besides, your tail lamps and brake lights should also be in working order as the ones following you should not bang into you and needs sufficient warning in case you apply your brakes. It is also important that your indicator lights work so that the other drivers will know the direction your vehicle is going to take. Don’t spring a surprise on them or you will be the one who will be surprised and it might be a costly one at that.
In misty conditions and when the rains are heavy, it is advisable to have your fog lights working, as the yellow light gives you a better visibility in such conditions.
Regular scheduled maintenance will ensure years of trouble free service for your vehicle. If you find the paint work damaged or scratched get it fixed immediately, especially before the monsoons as otherwise the body will get corroded. Similarly, get the under carriage treated with anti-rust coating, otherwise the floor board and the under carriage could get damaged by rust.
If you must drive through deeply water logged areas, balance the clutch and accelerator and rev at slightly higher than normal to keep the water from entering the exhaust.
Above all, drive carefully and responsibly within speed limits and never drink and drive. You owe it not only to yourself but to others also.
Stanley Varghese for IndiaProperty.com