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Gear up for monsoon motoring

From keeping your vehicle moisture-free to learning how to drive in low visibility, follow simple guidelines for a happy ride in the rains

autos Updated: Jun 12, 2012 16:25 IST
Rishad Saam Mehta

Monsoons in Mumbai evoke a wide spectrum of emotions. For some, it spells freshness along with the refreshing smell of wet earth; for the starry eyed, it translates into romantic walks in the rains and for the pet-pooja paramours, it’s all about hot spicy vada pav and garam chai. But most motorists frown looking at the dark clouds and the rains. For them it spells nothing but inconvenience and delay. It also means slippery roads, slush and grime.

But the monsoons needn’t be a complete washout. In this two-part series, we explore how smart planning and a little preparation can make any ride smooth through the monsoon months.

Prepare now!
Don’t wait for your first scary skid to realise that your tyres are worn out. Or for the first shower to realise that your windscreen wiper blades are cracked and dry. Enjoy a smooth ride with the help of these essential tips and change that frown into a smile.

Dos and don’ts for four wheelers

* Corrosion
This is important especially if your vehicle is getting old with the years. Corrosions and moisture go hand-in-hand, spreading rampantly during the monsoons if not looked out for. It’s often found in hidden places like door hinges, under the flooring carpet and places where water accumulates and takes time to dry. Get rid of corrosion before the first rains arrive.

* Tyres
Tyres with good treads are a must-have during monsoons. If your tyres are worn out, get them changed — it may save your life. Bald or even fairly worn out tyres reduce grip and traction, which in turn reduces steering control and increases the stopping distance.

* Wipers and Windscreen washer
Heat tends to dry and stiffen the rubber of the wiper blades, leading to an uneven wipe action. If this is the case, replace the wiper blades. The windscreen washer is essential because the grime thrown up by wet roads when it isn’t raining needs moisture to be wiped away. Check the windscreen washer fluid level regularly. Add a pinch of detergent to the washer fluid as it helps in wiping away the grime that has dried on the windscreen.

* Leaks
Signs of leakage should be checked way before the rains come. The rubber biddings of the windscreens, doors and boot should be intact and tight since these are the areas most susceptible to leakage. Remember that if your windscreen is leaking, sticking an adhesive tape over the leak is not the solution. Get the bidding changed!

* Rubber stuff
If your vehicle doesn’t have a rubber matting yet, the monsoons are a perfect reason to buy a set. They will prevent the carpet from getting wet and staying damp, thus preventing corrosion of the flooring. Check hoses and belts for wear and tear and replace the worn-out ones. Also have the rubber bushes over the car’s Constant Velocity joints checked. A tear in them will lead to a sure and steady deterioration of the joint.

* Electricals
Get your vehicle serviced and the electricals thoroughly checked. All the wires and connections should be insulated. Make sure the battery terminals are properly coated with jelly or Vaseline and have rubber shields over the terminals.

Dos and don’ts for two wheelers
On a scooter or a motorcycle, you and your vehicle are even more exposed to elements. Watch out for these things.

* Two-wheeler covers
Don’t rush and get a ‘raincoat’ for your scooter or motorcycle without questioning its advantages. Water tends to accumulate under the ‘raincoat’ and doesn’t dry quickly. And handlebar covers can sometimes lead to fumbling since you can’t see where the controls are. Get a seat cover that is completely watertight, otherwise water will accumulate under it and do more damage to your seat.

* Tyres
They are an essential requirement for a safe monsoon. Get new tyres for your vehicle if they are starting to show signs of wear.

* Illumination
Visibility is greatly reduced during the monsoons and it is necessary to make you and your two-wheeler more visible to traffic. Check that all lights and turn indicators are working well. Also stick a few reflecting tapes on the rear of your bike.

* Keep the moisture out
Most motorbikes have exposed engines and you need to check the spark plug insulating and the rubber seals of the contact maker-breaker points. All exposed electrical connections should be insulated against water.

* Mudflaps
They are very essential as the front saves your legs and engine from tyre-spray and the rear one stops the spray from reaching the car or two-wheeler behind you. Riding during monsoons If you are going to use your two-wheeler regularly during the monsoons, these pointers are a must for you.

* Your Helmet
It should fit well on your head. The visor should be scratch free as there’s bound to be a sparkle effect with the rain and the lights, which will increase further if the visor is full of scratches. This can seriously hamper your vision.

* Raincoat
Those flimsy windcheaters cannot protect you from the rain. What you need to keep yourself dry while riding is a proper raincoat and waterproof pants. Choose a bright, fluorescent colour that is very visible. If you have a dark coloured raincoat, then make a triangle at the back with a reflecting tape. Make sure that the collar of the raincoat fits well to avoid water from your helmet running down your back. The length of the waterproof pants should go beyond your ankles when seated on the bike.

* Shoes
Since your shoes will most certainly get soaked, leave your office pair at work to wear during the day and do your commuting in your water-proof pair.

* Wallet, cellphone etc Put these items in a thick plastic bag to waterproof them before you put them in your pocket. Many scooters and bikes have a compartment to store items like helmets or documents, but sometimes water can get into those places too. So put them in a plastic bag before placing them in the compartment.

Footwear, clutches and rainwear from Besos, Kemps Corner and Bandra. Call 23614552 or 26441488