Rain check: Precautions one needs to take for a safe journey

This rainy season, we look into how to care for your vehicles for a hassle-free journey.
Rain check. Pic courtesy: Pexels
Rain check. Pic courtesy: Pexels

Monsoon is a blessing. Or, one can even say that the monsoon comes as a result of the prayers of millions. At the same time, the season demands extra care in every routine activity. 

When we walk, when we travel, and when we drive… The rainy season demands special attention to every small thing. 

Since rain makes our roads extremely vulnerable – water logging, deceiving potholes, lack of visibility, slippery surfaces – danger lurks in every corner. Add to that irresponsible driving, accidents are bound to happen. So this monsoon, let’s look at all the precautions one needs to take for a safe journey.

The condition of the tyres is very important in monsoon driving. Many ‘occasional drivers’ take them for granted. ‘This bald tyre is enough, as my drive is very short’ is the common attitude. But this can be fatal on a rainy day. Tyre treads (the grooves on the tyre surface) play an important role in providing grip. The treads act as channels to disperse water and ensure optimal contact between the rubber and the road. Worn tyres or bald tyres will not be able to displace water and will be prone to aquaplaning (sliding over the surface of the water). Hence, ensure tread depth is at least 2mm. Most tyres will have tread wear indicators – small cross ribs set in the main grooves, about 1.5 to 2mm in height. Once the tyre surface is level with these ribs, it’s time to replace the tyre. 

Flooded streets
Rains are very unpredictable now and there may be times you are forced to travel through a waterlogged street. Before you start, it’s best to assess the depth of the water by looking at the vehicles in front of you. Move only if it seems safe. If you move, stick to a lower gear, preferably first gear, and keep the engine RPM up. This will prevent water from entering the exhaust.

Wiper gets the lowest care from car owners. We think of wiper conditions only when our vision becomes hampered. So, make sure your wiper blades are clean. Also, top-up on the wiper washer fluid to clean mud splashes and sprays from the vehicles passing by.

Properly working brakes become particularly important during monsoon, as the stopping distance of vehicles tends to increase in the wet. When driving during heavy rains or just after driving through large puddles, make sure you dry the brake discs by lightly tapping the pedals intermittently. 

Braking distance increases on wet surfaces. So it’s best to keep a larger distance from the vehicle in front and speed in check. This gives you adequate room to brake and react. It will also provide you with a better view of the potholes, debris, mud and water on the road ahead. When driving in rainy weather, we face the issue of aquaplaning or hydroplaning. A layer of water forms between the wheel and the road. This condition can be very dangerous as the vehicle can move side-wards as if our control on brakes and steering has gone. Hold the steering wheel straight and gradually ease your foot off the accelerator. As you slow down, you should be able to feel your wheels gaining traction and you’ll get back control. Make slow and steady movements of the steering wheel and gently use your brakes. If your car has cruise control, switch this off when driving in wet conditions. 

There is a greater chance of getting stuck in a traffic jam during the monsoon season. This means, there must be enough fuel. Keep some water and snacks handy. Tyre puncture kit, towel, torch, etc, can also come in handy.

The writer is a freelance auto expert who hosts TV shows and anchors the YouTube channel ‘CARKADUVA’

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