■ Seasonal Tips;
Prepare your car for the monsoon

Monsoons are set to hit the India sub-continent very soon, hence, motorists should prepare their cars in in anticipation of the rainy season. These preparations will not only help minimise the risks you and your car would face in the rains, but also ensure a hassle-free experience. The following are some key points that you should get checked or fixed before the onset of the monsoons.

Tyres are one of the most overlooked parts of the car, yet they are extremely important and have a major impact on the way a car drives. Having tyres with a good amount of tread is a must during the monsoons. This is down to the fact that traction on wet roads is already severely compromised, when compared to dry roads, and it is made even worse when the water collects to form pools or mixes with leaked oil and other vehicular fluids. Tyre treads help in this situation by channelling the water away from the contact patch, hence improving your car’s grip. Nowadays, most tyres come with tread-wear indicators – a small rubber bar between the grooves on a tyre. As the tyre rubber wears down, the tread indicator starts thinning out, too. Once the tread indicator wears off, it’s definitely time to replace the tyres.

Battery and wiring:
Having a properly working battery is an essential requirement throughout the year, though it becomes even more important in the monsoons. Due to the rains and overcast weather causing poor visibility, you will end up using your wipers and lights more than you would at other times of the year. This takes a heavy toll on the battery, which if not in working shape will cause trouble. It is best to have it replaced beforehand, if required.

Another thing to watch out for is the condition of the exposed wiring running around your car. Improper wiring or wires that have insulation peeling off have a good chance of shorting, especially when they come in contact with water. This can be a major safety hazard to you and others as well. Hence, it is worth taking a good look at all visible cables and also making sure any aftermarket electrical fitments are wired using high-quality cables. If they aren’t, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect a short circuit with highly unpleasant consequences – least of which will be a void warranty.

Working lights:
Making sure that all your lights, including the headlights, tail-lights, fog lights and turn signals are in working order is a crucial step. This is something that should be kept in working condition, regardless of the weather. Heavy rains and overcast weather can make for hampered visibility, and this is where you require your car’s lights working properly to be noticeable to other road users.

Begin with running all lights together – the headlights (in both, low and high beams), brake lights and hazards/indicators. If you’ve noticed your lights get dimmer or inconsistent, you need a new set of bulbs. Flickering or fluctuating lights can also indicate a weak battery. Getting your headlights and tail-lights fixed or replaced, if they have moisture in them or are hazy, is another important task – as you want to see and be seen as clearly as possible when visibility is bad. Also, ensuring your headlights have an even beam is equally crucial to your safety, as well as that of oncoming vehicles.

Wet roads also have an adverse impact on the braking distance of a car. As with a number of items in this list, properly functioning brakes are a necessity, no matter the circumstances or weather. However, worn out brakes could further increase braking distances, and there is also a chance of failure. You can test out your brakes at home by starting the engine, letting your car idle for a while and pressing the brake pedal with uniform force – if the pedal continues to sink there might be a leak in the system. Additionally, if you feel a judder in the brake pedal in your daily driving, it could mean that the pads have worn out and need to be replaced.

Wipers and washers:
It might seem like a no-brainer, but not checking the condition of the wipers and washer system is a common oversight. Seeing as they will be used regularly over the monsoons, check your wiper blades to see if they leave behind any smudges or lines of water on the windscreen. If they leave either, it is time to have them changed, as during the monsoons you will be required to use them almost every day. Owing to infrequent use throughout the year, and particularly in the summer, the rubber on the blades tends to crack, making the wipers ineffective for when you need them the most.

Ensure the washers are spraying properly, both at the front and rear (where applicable), as debris can clog the noses, or the water pump can fail – leading to the washers not working. Keeping the wiper-washer fluids topped up with soap water (or windshield water fluid) is also important, as sticky debris can be difficult to clear from the windshield and might also damage it. Make sure to keep an eye on the washer reservoir level and top it up as and when it runs low.

Leaks and rust:
It isn’t uncommon for rubber seals around panels such as sunroofs, windows or windshield to begin leaking over the years, given the climate prevalent through most of India. One way of checking if your car has any leaks is by looking for signs of moisture around the windows, sunroof, door sills and carpets.

Also, a rather common occurrence is the clogging of drainage holes located around the car that can cause the growth of rust if water accumulates in the area. Rusting too is a major issue and it’s best to have the rusted areas treated or replaced before it spreads. Cars tend to be more prone to rusting in the wet season, given the higher levels of moisture and variations in temperature. It is a good idea to identify the source of leaks as soon as possible and have them rectified; the drainage holes can be unclogged after a proper service and cleaning.

Paint and body work:
Another thing that doesn’t go well together is moisture and exposed metal, which almost always leads to rusting. While leaks in the rubber seals around the car can be a source of rust, another area of concern is places where the paint coat has been damaged. Exposed metal is more prone to rusting and it’s best to get these areas repaired at the earliest, as rusting can make the problem worse than it was.

Pre-monsoon service:
Sending your car for a service is a fast and efficient way of identifying and rectifying a majority of the above-mentioned problems. A service will also be able to sort out any issues you may miss or are unable to rectify yourself. While your car is getting serviced, you can also get it professionally cleaned and polished, to better protect your car from the elements.

Monsoons bring with them a level of unpredictability, as spells of bright sunshine make way for heavy rains and vice versa. It is a good practice to keep a few items handy in your car during the rainy season. These include spares for components such as the wiper blades and fuses, as well as standard equipment like high-visibility triangles, basic tools and a medical kit. Additionally, while unrelated to the car itself, it is a good idea to keep spares such as clothes, an extra set of shoes, an umbrella/ raincoat and even a towel in the car, in case you do get caught out and it starts to rain.