Check your tires – Good tyres become all the more important during the monsoon because the tyre needs to dispel water out of its grooves constantly to maintain grip with the road. If the tread is worn, there is no place for the water to leave out of the tyre, and the car ends up riding on a layer of water very easily, which leads to loss of traction. This is called aquaplaning, which can result in a fatal accident.
Check your wipers – If your wipers are not in good condition, you will not be able to see out of your windscreen. It’s as simple as that. And since we obviously need the best vision we can get, especially during a spell of heavy rain, it should be high up on your checklist. Have the wiper blades replaced at least once a year, and try to have them in excellent working condition for the rains. The entire wiper arm may need replacing on older cars, since they tend to warp over time, and become unable to exert enough downward pressure on the windscreen to clean it.
Use headlights in rainy conditions – When visibility is poor because of rain, turn on your headlights (on low beam) as this will help other drivers know you’re there. Also make sure that you headlights are in good working order – old, yellowed lens reflectors need to be replaced before the monsoon, especially since wet roads tend to absorb much more light than dry tarmac, thus rendering your headlights less effective.
Car skidding – Prevention is certainly better than cure, so we stress again to slow down! Try to brake before entering turns, and not mid-corner, and be gentle with the throttle. However, if you do feel your car skidding, remain calm and try “steering into the skid”. What this means is you should look and steer in the direction you want the car to go. If your car doesn’t have ABS, don’t brake as this will only heighten the loss of control, but if the car is ABS-equipped, brake firmly while steering into the skid.
Driving through water – Driving through a flooded area can be extremely dangerous for your car, since all its expensive electronic control systems are put at risk, especially newer cars. As rule, don’t attempt to drive through water that is higher than the bottom of your doors, or you could end up like the guy in the picture. If however, you deem it safe to go through the water, slot the car into first gear, keep the clutch depressed just enough to partially engage gear, and drive slowly through the water. This is to keep the exhaust gases moving out of the tail pipe. If water gets sucked back in, it could enter the engine and render it useless, requiring you to replace it entirely.
The windshield washer fluid – topped up at all times, and clean all glasses thoroughly. Try using a newspaper to clean your windscreens. If you have a dark sun film, that’s going to create a problem at night.
Fuel up! You never know when you may end up stuck on the road. Don’t ever let your fuel tank go below the 1/2 level mark. Also, stock up with sufficient supplies of snacks and bottled water. Chocolates, packaged wafer chips and energy bars make for great snacks to store in your car.
Keep a first-aid kit – torch and umbrella handy. Some members even recommend keeping a small hammer in the car. In the event of flood waters jamming your doors, the hammer could help in breaking the windows for escape
Avoid driving on lane cuts or lane divide lines – your car will tramline much easier in the rains. Also, try to stay off the paint on the road (zebra crossings, lane markers etc.) as the painted surface is low on traction.
The safest place to be is in the middle lane – Why? Crowned roads will have water settle on either side. Plus, you will notice puddle formation in the right lanes, while the left will always have people joining the road or exiting.
Go slow – It’s that simple. Adopt a conservative driving style and plan for a longer travel time. For instance, brake earlier and with lesser force than you would in the dry.
Window fogging – occurs due to a temperature difference between the inside surface of your glass and the outside. For example, if you drive without the air-con and all your windows are shut, the cabin is warmer than the outside, resulting in the window fogging up from inside. On the other hand, if you run your air-con on full blast mode, the interiors of your car will be colder than the outside. Thus, your glasses will fog up from the outside.
When the windows fog from the inside – The best thing to do is to switch the aircon on. It will clear up the screens in a jiffy. The situation is a little tricker when the windows fog up from the outside. The ideal solution is to roll down the windows a little, and let the air flow more or less neutralize the temperature difference.
Carry a couple of cigarettes – or a pouch of tobacco in your glovebox. If visibility becomes a problem due to heavy rainfall, rubbing tobacco on the windscreen works wonders.
Pull over when the rain becomes too heavy – Wiper blades can get overloaded during extremely heavy rain, and not be able to function as normal, resulting in a layer of water on the windscreen that becomes very hard to see through. This is when you need to pull over to let the shower pass or at least lighten till visibility reaches a safe level. Make sure you move off the highway or road with your hazard lights on to a safe place where your car isn’t in the path of traffic, or you become a prime candidate for a bad accident.