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Monsoon car care tips

27th May 2013 4:27 pm

Here’s a few easy-to-follow tips and tricks that should make driving easier and more enjoyable during the upcoming monsoons.

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The rains will begin to pour down upon most of the country soon and will bring with them the much-needed respite from the long, torrid summer. But, although the season is essential for agriculture, etc, it brings with it, a host of problems for your car. Water, humidity and moisture spell disaster for metal and electronics. Fret not, for we are here to give you a host of easy-to-follow tips that will help make your monsoon motoring experience an enjoyable one.

Before you start looking for specialised monsoon measures, check the holistic health of your car. If there is a scheduled service in the next couple of months, it would be a good idea to get it done a bit earlier, as this will ensure your car is in the best shape to tackle the rains. Apart from the routine service, request the works personnel to spray an anti-rust solution on all metal parts exposed to rain water. Also, ask them to make sure all the drain plugs are closed and leaves are cleaned out of any water channels. A missing drain plug will let in muddy water from the roads that will soil your car’s carpets and also give rise to a stench that may be hard to get rid of later. The rains can also disrupt your car’s electrical systems. Have the workshop double-check all important connections such as the wiring for the battery and the alternator for proper insulation. 

If you get locked in due to electrical failures, you can use the car’s headrest to break open the windows in an emergency.

Body care 

Rain water is mildly acidic and your car’s paint could start to wear away after prolonged exposure. Use a good quality wax polish on the car. This forms a thin protective layer on top of the paint that causes the water to slip right off. Also, small scratches in the paintwork should be touched up to prevent the exposed metal from rusting. An underbody anti-rust treatment is also recommended once every two to three years. It generally costs around Rs 3,000 and has excellent long-term benefits.

Water on the  wing mirrors limits visibility. Carry a clean soft cloth to wipe them when required.

Safety first

The single most important component in keeping you safe through the rains is the tyres. Tyres with less than 2mm of tread are very prone to aquaplaning. Aquaplaning is a phenomenon that occurs when the tyre cannot squeeze out the water between the road and itself, and hence glides over a thin layer of water like a surfboard. This lack of contact between the road surface and the tyres could cause you to lose control of the car, resulting in a serious accident. To maximise grip, always maintain the manufacturer-recommended tyre pressure, as this ensures the maximum contact area between your tyres and the road. And of course, do not forget the spare tyre. Also, make sure your wheels are properly aligned to avoid any dynamic imbalance. Although good quality tyres help, they are not foolproof. Speeding is one of the main factors that induces aquaplaning and we recommend driving at least 30 percent slower than usual on wet roads. Having electronics such as ABS and TCS helps, but exercise extreme caution.

Although it may sound trivial, an alarming number of drivers have their windscreen wipers in bad shape. Rubber hardens over time, which significantly reduces the wiper’s effectiveness. Apart from a hazy view out when it’s raining, a bad wiper will leave permanent scratches on your expensive windscreen. A good set costs just a few hundred rupees, so do not skimp on these.

Good wiper blades are of prime importance. Also check the motor

Killing odours

During the monsoons, the air-conditioner does more than just cool the cabin. The dry air is very useful in preventing your windscreen and windows from misting up, which is a serious hazard. Accumulation of moisture could also result in fungal growth in the air-conditioning system which can emit a foul odour. A simple trick to eliminate this is to spray a solution that is one part disinfectant and one part water into the cowl vent while you keep your air-conditioner running in fresh air mode. Keep your windows rolled down for about an hour and let the disinfectant escape before you start driving again. Getting the seats and floor wet will also lead to foul smells that will stay in the car well past the monsoon season. Also, a new set of washable carpets and mats will help.
 
 
Spraying a household disinfectant into these vents here will reduce foul odours trapped in the air conditioning system.
 

Driving in the rains

Considering you now have a healthy car, remember, it is finally you who is  in control of it. Monsoons bring with them their fair share of challenges when driving.  In case you find yourself in a flooded area, venture out only if the water is half a foot lower than the air inlet to avoid the water from entering the engine. If you suspect water has entered the engine, immediately switch off the car to avoid any further damage.  Drive Safe. 
 
Visibility and traction are your biggest challenges during the monsoons. Drive cautiously.
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