The onset of monsoon is a welcome relief after a scorching summer. However, for vehicle owners, the rains can also be a nightmare as water and a car’s internal parts don’t go well together. If the proper precautions are not taken, driving a faulty vehicle in the rain could also spell disaster for not just the occupants but the car as well.
So, before you venture into our artificially created swimming pools, here is a list of checks to keep your car in top shape:
Make sure you have tyres with a good amount of tread. During the rains, it is difficult for tyres to gain traction on wet roads as the channels in the tyres are the only things that allow them to displace water. Water on the road sometimes mixes with oils and other fluids leaked from vehicles, and make the road surface very slippery. Although we strongly suggest you get your tyres replaced before the monsoon, you can continue with your current ones provided the tread is good enough. Most tyres have tread-wear indicators built into them. It’s a small rubber bar between the grooves on a tyre. As your tyre rubber wears down, the tread too starts thinning out. Once the tread indicator wears off, it is time to replace them.
Keep your brakes well maintained with the brake fluids replaced along with the brake pads. They are inexpensive, but crucial for safety. To perform a quick brake fluid check, keep your car running at idle and hold down on the brake pedal at a steady pressure. If the pedal continues to sink, it is a sign of a brake-fluid leak. Get the brakes checked by an expert and if advised, get the discs changed although it can be slightly expensive. Also, make sure to replace a faulty brake-pedal foot pad, as a slippery pedal can be disastrous.
Water can have disastrous effects on the electrical components of your car. Hence, all the electrical systems must be insulated well. Ensure that the car battery is in a good condition. The battery undergoes maximum strain during the monsoons, as many electrical systems like headlamps, wipers and AC are running at the same time. The alternator cables too, need to be properly insulated and secured as it might lead to the engine not turning. So, ensure that all the wires are also well insulated and tucked away.
Do ensure that you have a perfectly working set of lights. As the weather gets overcast, the lights get dimmer and lose their reach. Replacing the bulbs barely cost anything and is easy to do yourself. Make sure to check the headlamps (both high beam and low beam), tail-lamps, turn indicators and hazards. Also, keep your headlamps and tail-lamps clear and defogged. If your car has hazy or fogged lights, a rub of glass cleaner ought to clear things up.
A clear windscreen for unhindered visibility is crucial. When it starts to rain, dirt gets smeared on the windshield and can obscure your vision. A windshield repellent forms a layer that doesn’t allow water droplets to stay on for long and also protects the glass from flying debris. Taking precautions with the regular application of a repellant or wax is inexpensive and goes a long way in helping prevent accidents and boosting safety.
Wipers are a motorist’s best friends in the monsoons. Having a fresh set of wiper blades is crucial as visibility is significantly improved. The rubber blades on a car’s wipers could wear out as they aren’t extensively used across the year. The summer heat cracks the rubber on the blades and hence, it is the most important thing to keep in mind while prepping for the wet months. Also keep the wiper-washer fluids topped up with soap water as sticky debris can be difficult to clear from the windshield and might also damage it.
Car leaks are one of the most common problems during monsoons. Many types of car leaks may spring up during this time. And some of these can be extremely dangerous. Windshield leaks are frequent and are commonly seen on replaced windshields. Check the borders carefully for broken rubber seals. Similarly, check for door and window leaks. Old rubber seals wear out over time and crack, allowing water to creep in. Another problem area is where two body panels come together. A repaired body panel might look fine on the outside, but can be a cause for leaks if not repaired properly. Cars with sunroofs experience leaks quite often. A faulty sunroof leak is often due to the drain lines clogging or a punctured drain pipe. Aftermarket accessories like roof racks also tend to rust around the mounting holes and can be cause of seepage in the cabin.
If your car has minor scratches or the paint is flaking or peeling off, do get it repaired at the earliest. Minor scratches may allow water to seep in to the bodywork and can accelerate corrosion. If rust has already settled in, it won’t be an easy job. Repairing a rusted panel or part needs an expert’s touch, but is worth getting done considering the repercussions of skipping it altogether. Wash your car regularly to keep the body and undersides clean of the road grime and dirt, which lead to corrosion. A coat of polish after a wash is highly recommended as it not only forms a protective layer on the car’s body, but also enhances the exterior’s appeal.
The car’s body has many drainage holes that allow water to seep out from drainage channels in the bonnet, roof and boot. These often get clogged in conditions like ours where it only rains
for a part of the year. Make sure you put the car up and have them unblocked, else
it could flood inside the car before water inches up on the outside.
Finally, after the checks and trips to workshops, you are prepared. But also, do keep a monsoon kit in your car for emergencies. A basic one should have a torch, extra fuses, headlamp and tail-lamp bulbs, a small tool kit, tyre inflator and an extra set of wiper blades. You can keep adding to your kit but ideally, these are some of the must-haves.