Monsoon is that part of the year when one yearns the most to step out of the house and appreciate the beauty of nature. But the merriment is often hampered by rain-struck vehicles. One can understand the seriousness by mere going through the pictures of wading and stuck vehicles at water-logged roads in the recent past. Hindustan Times spoke to Bhopal-based automobile experts Neeraj Gulati and Animesh Shrivastav on what precautions one should take while moving out on a rainy day and what should be done when the vehicle isn’t cooperating.
Q & A WITH THE EXPERTS
What to do if the vehicle is stuck into deep waters and is unable to restart?
Push it out of the water, or pull it by towing with the help of another vehicle. If you are not able to get any help and the current of water flow is more, open all the gates of the car that will save it from being washed away. In any case do not try to start the engine, the exhaust might suck some water in and harm the engine. Call the nearest mechanic or helpline. Do not travel without towing equipment.
What precautions should be taken while driving a four-wheeler or riding a bike.
During a heavy downpour, drive only if urgent, that also at a slow speed, avoiding ditches, and whenever you cross some water filled patch, drive for about 10 meters with brakes in semi-applied position. This will help in drying the water soaked brake shoes. It has been noticed, vehicle does not stops immediately when the brake shoes are wet due to water collection in drum. Secondly, slow down so much while crossing a water filled patch that your vehicle does not splash water on other vehicles, especially two wheelers, which will make driving for them very difficult. If in normal conditions you drive in 4th gear at a given stretch of road, during rains, do that in 2nd or 3rd gear, it is easy to control in an emergency. Bike riders should always wear safety gear like helmets, elbow and knee guards.
Visibility lessens during excessive rains. What precautions should be taken for it?
Keep your vehicle’s parking lights on, so that the coming, as well as vehicle following you, is able to locate your position. If necessary put on the fog lamps fitted in the bumpers of your car, and if it is a bit dark, then switch on the head lamps too, but in dip position, else it will disturb the driver coming from opposite direction. Otherwise too, front lights should always be in dip position (low beam) in city driving.
What should be the ideal speed limit while driving or riding when it is raining heavily?
Within city generally the speed limit is 40 kms per hour and maximum 60 for four wheelers on roads like Link Road No. 1, or VIP road. As a thumb rule, during heavy rainfall one should cut down the speed by 50%. Drive in low gears to have a better control over the machine.
Misting windscreen is a common problem in monsoon. What can be done to reduce it?
For the rear windscreen, defoggers are being given as an original equipment fitting in new generation cars, just switch it on. For the front windshield, you have to match the temperature inside the car cabin with the temp outside by adjusting the air conditioner. If you are getting uncomfortable by direct airflow, divert the fins of the blower to the windscreen in low speed and adjust the temp accordingly as the weather demands.
Any maintenance that wiper needs. What is its significance?
Windshield wiper is lifeline during rains, which needs to be replaced by a new one every season because the extreme climate during summers and winters hardens the rubber blade and reduces its water wiping ability, thus blocking the vision. Eventually glass screen develops lot many scratches and make night driving difficult. It is better and much cheaper to change wiper blades every year rather than forcibly change the windscreen after 4-5 years.
What precautions can be taken to save metal parts from rusting ?
Most of the parts are of galvanized steel or aluminium which don’t rust. For other parts you can put a thin film of vaseline on it after wiping it clean, once in three weeks during this season. Some anti-rusting sprays are also available in the market, which are quite effective.
What to do to keep hygienic interiors during monsoon?
Just keep the interiors like dash board, door panels, handles, speedometer cluster, dry by wiping it with a cotton cloth, as fungus starts growing on damp surface. Keep some blotting paper handy, in the glove compartment or on top of the dash board, which can be used for periodic cleaning too.
Other than the periodic maintenance, do you suggest frequent service during monsoon?
Things to be checked often during monsoon are brake pads and shoes, brake oil, electric fittings, all lights, turn indicators, wipers and the windshield cleaning water bottle level and its sprayer. Keep some old newspapers in the car, that’s the best wiper to clean the screen and window glasses from inside and outside, if and when required.
Advise about the motor insurance, its significance and benefits in monsoon especially.
Motor Insurance is mandatory and it is advisable to get a comprehensive insurance done which covers all calamities too (like earthquake, riots, floods, fire). People get these risks deleted from comprehensive insurance to save some money on the annual premium, and repent later if such a need arises. Any damage caused to the vehicle by heavy rains, may it be flooding or some loose items like a branch of a tree, bricks from some wall falling on it, is also covered. But before paying the premium ask your agent or company representative to explain the depreciation clauses to you.
Fill the windshield water spray bottle regularly with clean water mixed with some quantity of contact lens cleanser (maybe of expiry date/used) or crockery/glass cleansing liquid detergent. Use the spray at least twice or thrice a day during rains, it will keep your windshield sparkling clean all the time.
When you park your car, keep the air conditioner blower vent’s position in fresh air intake mode, and never on cabin re-circulation mode, reason being, if there is a change in weather during that time and it gets hot, the air inside the cabin expands due to heat, and when there is no outlet to escape, the pressure will break one of the glasses of your precious asset.
Always keep a fresh raw potato and a cutter in the car during rainy season. By chance the wipers suddenly stop working, don’t panic. Cut a slice of fresh potato, gently rub it vertically from top to bottom of the windshield from outside, water won’t stop on the screen, it will just slide down and allow you to drive till you destination or repair shop.