Rain, rain go away. Wishful thinking, right?
You had just gotten used to the summer and enjoying your time at the beach, and then the monsoons start to arrive, bringing with them the floods and tricky driving conditions we all hate. And then there are the storms.
For many of us, it's a good time to stay indoors and enjoy a good book, but for some of us, that may not be an option. We may have to go out and drive long distances; sometimes for business, but hopefully for pleasure and adventures.
And so to help keep your vehicle in shape to deal with our tropical monsoons, here are 8 tips presented by Bridgestone to help make sure your ride is safe and ready for the tricky road ahead.
Basic Vehicle Maintenance Check
It goes without saying: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If you've been neglecting that oil change, procrastinating on replacing your engine's belts, or trying to mask that noise coming from one of the wheels of your car by turning up the volume on your Spotify playlist, you're going to be in a world of hurt if something breaks while you're on a long drive in tricky conditions. At the very least, your wallet is going to bear the brunt of it.
Before proceeding any further down this list, do yourself and your vehicle a favor and take it for a basic check-up whenever something doesn't look, feel, sound or smell right with your ride. Spending for a basic check and replacing worn parts are really cheap compared to having your vehicle being towed or transported on a car carrier.
Thorough Electrical Check-Up
Water and electricity simply do not mix. Well, in reality water does conduct electricity, but that's not what you want in your vehicle.
Before heading out to meet the elements, take your vehicle to a reputable electrical shop and have a full electrical check done. Make sure they look for worn wires, particularly ones with insulation that have frayed or cracked; it's not so much a problem for newer cars, but could be a problem for older vehicles.
Also, have your relays and fuses inspected. Make sure to carry a few spare fuses too.
Wipers and Windshield Treatment
Visibility is important if you're driving in the elements; you can't drive safely if you have to struggle to see out the windshield.
Contrary to popular belief, windshield wipers aren't intended to last more than a year. In fact, most recommend that wipers should be replaced every 6 to 12 months. Don't opt for the cheap replacement rubber blades you can get at your friendly neighborhood auto supply; invest in a good pair of wipers from a reputable brand.
Also, you may want to think of some kind of hydrophobic windshield treatment. These chemicals form a thin clear film over your windshield that prevents water from “gripping” the actual glass; the effect is when a drop hits, it will just flow straight down. You can also use the treatment for your side and rear windshields, and even on your door mirrors. They're actually quite cool if you're driving with some speed; the drops will just get blown upward with a fun “warp-speed” effect.
Inspect Door and Window Seals
Do you see any watermarks on your upholstery or ceiling? If so, you may want to have your seals checked.
This is something you can actually do at home to save on a check. Look for cracks in the rubber seals of your doors; if you find any, have them replaced. If you're lucky, the rubber weatherstrips could have just been dislodged and you'll just have to pop them back in place to get a good seal from the elements.
The seals on the windshields would require specialist work, as they use very specific adhesives to form the airtight seals.
Airbag and Seatbelt Checks
The restraint systems on a modern automobile are the features that we don't like to test simply because that means we've actually been in an accident, but we have to trust that they work.
These components require checks too, and it's good practice to take them to a properly equipped service station so that they can inspect the airbags. Things to look out for are cracks, frayed wires, or other signs of wear.
The same goes for the seatbelts, though they're easy to check. If you give a modern 3-point ELR (emergency locking restraint) seatbelt a sharp, quick tug and the mechanism locks, it's fine. If you pull and it keeps going, you'll have to have it worked on.
This is not something you should scrimp money on; if anything needs replacing or repairing, do it. Airbags and seatbelts are the last line of defense; if they fail when you need them to work, the results will not be pretty.
Test The ABS
We can't stress enough how important an anti-lock braking system (ABS) for the safety of a modern vehicle. Many focus on the numbers of airbags a car has and thinks its safe, but few can really appreciate the value of an ABS until they've been faced with an emergency maneuver in the wet.
If you encounter an obstacle in front of you (i.e. a stopped car or jaywalker), chances are you'll brake hard. While that's all well and good, there's a good chance in a non ABS-equipped car that the tires will lock-up; in other words they will stop rotating.
The problem with that is that you will have little or no steering control to avoid. ABS prevents that by sending a pulse to the brakes (you can feel it in the pedal) to modulate them, allowing the wheels to spin a little bit so you can avoid by steering.
It's best to consult your vehicle manual if your ride does actually have ABS, and if it does, you're in luck. You should have your ABS checked by a credible service station to make sure it's in good working order, though you can perform a quick test to see if it's doing its job.
Find an long, wide empty road or better yet, a road or parking lot that is closed off to traffic; don't do this with people nearby or oncoming cars. Accelerate to about 50 or 60 km/h, and then slam on the brakes with all you've got; if you feel a pulse through the pedals and you still the ability to steer, your ABS is working.
A full check of all the light bulbs on your vehicle is definitely one of the easiest and most straightforward checks you can do. Older vehicles will have bulbs that are easier to replace; just check if they're busted, get a replacement bulb with the same specifications and install. Newer, LED type bulbs may be more complex, so consult your vehicle manual.
One important tip when it comes to headlight bulbs, however, is color temperature. While many car owners opt for aftermarket bulbs with cool white beams (5000 to 6500 Kelvin, or K), the tendency of white beams is to bounce on a wet road, particularly wet tarmac. A warmer white or OEM white (about 4300 Kelvin) will have a tendency to be absorbed by a wet road, improving visibility.
Cool white beams are cool for car meets, but warm white lights are far better for driving in the rain.
The Right Tires
Without a shadow of a doubt, tires are essential for the safety and endurance of your vehicle in difficult weather conditions. Have your tires inspected regularly; worn tires will not be able to disperse water in wet conditions and could lead to a very dangerous situation called aquaplaning/hydroplaning.
Picking the right tire for your vehicle will be important. There are many cheap choices in the market for tires, but the safety of you and your family should never be left to the lowest bidder, and that's why Bridgestone should be at the top of your list when replacing tires.
The popularity of SUVs of all shapes and sizes means that Bridgestone's Dueler range of tires is the prime option. Dueler tires are engineered to deliver the best on any kind of surface for your SUV or pick-up.
Proven to deliver superb grip on dry surfaces, excellent water clearing on wet roads, improved fuel efficiency, a comfortable ride, and even superb wear life, Bridgestone Dueler will deliver what you need for your ride. And if you do decide to go off-road, the all-terrain (A/T) and mud-terrain (M/T) variants of Dueler have you covered if you need traction when it counts the most.
Don't Leave It To Chance
Driving long distances in wet weather can be difficult, if not outright dangerous. Visibility, grip, and safety are all compromised when the weather turns foul, when the roads get slippery, and when the winds start to pick up. But if you prepare your vehicle using these 8 tips from Bridgestone Philippines as your starting guide, you can sway the odds just that little bit more in your favor.