The monsoons are right around the corner, and as we prepare ourselves for the rainy season by bringing umbrellas out from storage, purchasing rain coats etc., we must prepare our cars as well. There are a number of steps and measures that can be taken prior to the onset of the rainy season, to ensure a trouble-free experience.
Here are some points that should be looked into to ready a car for the monsoon.
Having a set of tyres with a good amount of tread is a must during the monsoons. Traction on wet roads is severely compromised, this is made worse still by water occasionally mixing with leaked oil and other vehicular fluids. The treads on your tyres helps in channelling this mix away from the contact surfaces, thereby improving grip. Today, most tyres have tread-wear indicators – a small rubber bar between the grooves on a tyre – built into them. As your tyre rubber wears down, the tread indicator starts thinning out, too. Once the tread indicator wears off, it’s definitely time to replace the tyres.
Wiring and battery
Water and electrics are two things that don’t work well together. You don’t just need to ensure that your car’s electrical are in good working order but you also need to check the condition of the maze of exposed wiring running around your car. Improper wiring or those with the insulation peeling off have a good chance of shorting, especially when they come in contact with water, and that can be a safety hazard to you and others as well.
Take a good, long look at visible cables and also make sure any aftermarket electrical fitments are wired using high-quality cables. If they aren’t, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect a short circuit with highly unpleasant consequences – least of which will be a void warranty.
It is also advisable to make sure your battery is in proper working shape and have it replaced if required, as monsoons generally require heavier use of electrical components such as lights, wipers, etc.
It should go without saying that having working headlamps, tail-lamps and turn signals are a must, regardless of the weather. However, heavy rains during the monsoon and overcast weather can make for hampered visibility, which is where you require your car’s lights working properly to be noticeable to other road users.
Begin with running all lights together – the headlights (in both, low and high beams), brake lights and hazards/indicators. If you’ve noticed your lights get dimmer or inconsistent, you need a new set of bulbs. Flickering or fluctuating lights can also indicate a weak battery. Fixing an uneven beam is equally crucial to your safety as well as that of oncoming vehicles.
It’s also a good practice to have the headlamp or tail-lamp lenses cleaned if they have gotten fogged up or if moisture has settled inside the units.
Another thing wet roads hamper is the braking distance of a car. Properly working brakes are a necessity, no matter the circumstances or weather. However, worn out brakes could further increase braking distances, and there is also a chance of failure. You can test out your brakes at home by starting the engine, letting your car idle for a while and pressing the brake pedal with uniform force – if the pedal continues to sink there might be a leak in the system. Also, if you feel a judder in the brake pedal in your daily driving it could mean that the pads have worn out and need to be replaced.
Make sure to have your car’s braking system properly inspected by a professional and change worn out components as soon as possible. A well-maintained set of brakes are one of your biggest friends in the rains – particularly so as braking distances are longer on wet roads.
Wipers and washers
One of the first things that comes to mind when driving in the rains are the wipers. Check your wiper blades to see if they leave behind any smudges or lines of water on the windscreen. If they leave either, it is time to have them changed, as during the monsoons you will be required to use them almost every day. Owing to infrequent use throughout the year, and particularly in the summer, the rubber on the blades tends to crack, making the wipers ineffective for when you need them the most.
Keeping the wiper-washer fluids topped up with soap water (or windshield water fluid) is also important, as sticky debris can be difficult to clear from the windshield and might also damage it. Make sure to keep an eye on the washer reservoir level and top it up as and when it runs low.
Leaks and rust
Considering the climate and weather most parts of India receives, it isn’t uncommon for rubber seals around panels such as sunroofs, windows or windshield to begin to leak over the years. Also, a rather common occurrence is the clogging of drainage holes located around the car that can cause the growth of rust if water accumulates in the area. It is best to identify the sources of leaks as soon as possible and have them rectified; the drainage holes can be unclogged after a proper service and cleaning.
Checking for signs of moisture around the windows, sunroof, door sills and carpets, will help indicate whether your car has any leaks.
Rusting too is a major issue and it’s best to have the rusted areas treated or replaced before it spreads. Cars tend to be more prone to rusting in the wet season, given the higher levels of moisture and variations in temperature.
Paint and body work
Moisture and exposed metal almost always lead to rust. While leaks in the rubber seals around the car can be on source of rust, another area of concern is places where the paint coat has been damaged. Exposed metal is more prone to rusting and it’s best to get these areas repaired at the earliest, as rusting can make the problem worse than it was.
Also, make sure to keep the underside of your car clean, as well as clear of the road grime and dirt; these are what lead to chassis corrosion. A coat of polish after a wash is highly recommended, as it not only makes your car look shiny new but also forms a protective layer on the body.
A quick and easy way of identifying and rectifying many of the above-mentioned point is to send your car for a service. A service will also be able to sort out any issues you may miss or are unable to rectify yourself.
You can also opt for a professional cleaning and polishing packages as part of the service as well, to better protect your car from the elements.
There is an amount of unpredictability that comes with the monsoons, as spells of bright sunshine making way for heavy rains and vice versa. It is a good idea to keep a few items handy in your car, especially at this time of the year. it’s nice to have spares for components such as the wiper blades and fuses on hand. Additionally, while unrelated to the car itself, it is a good idea to keep spares such as clothes, an umbrella/ rain coat and even a towel in the car, in case you do get caught out and it starts to rain.