The rainy season is upon us again, and now is the time to be more careful out on the road. Slick roads, floods, spray, and other acts of nature are just some of the things that can easily throw you off the road when the going gets slippery. So now is a good time to look at your car and see if it's really ready for the monsoon season.
Here are five things to check in your car.
Illuminate the way
It's harder to see what's it's in front of you in a downpour, and more so at night. That means it is vital to have all your lights in good working order. We're not just talking about functioning headlights either. You can't afford to have busted tail lights and turn signals either because other motorists might not be able to see you until it's too late.
Also ensure that your headlights are aimed properly. It's not enough that the lights are functioning. If these are not aimed properly, you won't see what lies ahead as clearly. Get it checked and done by a professional if needed.
Wipe the rain away
Aside from your lights, your windshield wipers greatly affect your outward visibility. Having bad wipers mean all you'll see are smudges and a blurry view outside. That isn't exactly the ideal as you have to be more attentive when driving in foul weather. Look out for splits and tears on your wipers. If you see them, replace them immediately.
Ideally, you should replace your wipers every six months to one year. Anything more than that, and you're running the risk of driving compromised. Plus, bad wipers can scratch up your windshield too.
Fill 'er up
Granted, you should always check your fluids as regularly as possible, be it rain or shine. However, something seemingly overlooked is the windshield washer tank. One may argue that the steady flow of rain will keep the windshield grime-free, but road spray is very dirty and can muck up your view in seconds.
So aside from the usual oil and coolant checks, just add a bit more water in the windshield washer bottle if needed.
The only thing keeping you on the road and away from having an accident are the tires. While there's never a good time to have worn (or almost worn) tires, it is even more dangerous to have them in the rainy season. Slick surfaces, combined with compromised grip is a recipe for disaster. There's a greater risk of hydroplaning, wherein your car essentially 'floats' on the water on the road, rather than actually gripping the pavement.
So, what's there to check? Inspect the depth of your tread (the lines on the tires). You can do either a visual check or use a Php 1 coin to see how much rubber you have left. If it no longer covers the 'Republika ng Pilipinas' bit of the old coin (or cover Jose Rizal's name on the new coin), then it's time to get a fresh set.
While you're at it, check if nails or other road debris that have become lodged in there. Also, check the year your tire was manufactured. Even if it isn't worn out, it is ideal that tires must be replaced every six years, or else it either turns to shreds or blows out unexpectedly. Getting and fixing a flat in bad weather is in no way a pleasant experience.
Stopping is just as important as moving. Brakes could be the difference between averting disaster and a fender-bender...or worse. In the wet, a car needs more distance to be able to stop, and having worn brakes mean a longer stopping distance. Factor in the rain and the results could be catastrophic.
Now is a good time to see if your brakes are up to the task of slowing you down. Are you hearing the brakes squeal? Delayed braking feel? Pulling to one side when braking? Feeling vibrations? Then it's time to get a new set of pads. Also, check the level and condition of your brake fluid. It should be clear (with a tinge of yellow) and be at the right level, which is indicated in the reservoir. If it's neither of those, it's time to get a service.
Sealed up tight
Nobody wants to get drenched in their own car, so now is a good time to take a look at your car's rubber seals. Check the ones on the doors, in particular. If it's loose, torn, or damaged, chances are, water can seep through it and, well, wet the interior. If you can, change it as soon as you see signs of damage.
Also, take a look at the rubber linings of your windows and windshields. Again, if you spot damage, replace it as soon as possible. And for those who have a sunroof, take extra time to inspect those seals as well. Having water dripping inside the car is not fun at all. Plus, that's added cleanup.
Bonus: Keep the car clean, always
We've heard of people not really wanting to clean the car at the height of the rainy season. Their logic goes, “Why clean it if it will be dirty the next day anyway?”. If that's the case, why take a shower if you'll get sweaty the next day anyway?
Now, we're not telling you to clean the car every time it rains. As much as possible though, don't let the dirt and grime accumulate on your car. If you let it sit for far too long, it can eat away the sparkling finish on your ride, while the grime can lead to rust if it's trapped in the car's nooks and crannies. Once in a while, give your car a good underwash too, more so if you just passed through a flood. Flood water isn't exactly clean to begin with.
Stay dry, stay safe
Of course, there are a lot more ways to prepare your car for the rainy season, but these are just some of the vital things you must check during this time of the year. That said, all those checks will be worth nothing if the car is not in good shape to begin with, so always keep your vehicle in working order to avoid the hassles.
Also, take it easy out there. Good lights, new wipers and fresh tires won't do much if you drive carelessly in the rain. Remember, adjust to the conditions and be more aware of your surroundings. And if the weather is just too much, stay indoors. Unless you really have to get somewhere in the downpour, it's just not worth the risk.
Stay dry, drive safely, and always be on guard.