As you roll down the window, the fragrance of moist soil fills your nostrils as you gaze upon the lush green landscapes. Monsoons might be the best time to go out and explore places you have never been before. The summer heat is long gone and the spine-chilling winter breeze is still a thing of the future. It’s just you, your vehicle and the serene landscapes. However, on the flip side, driving in wet conditions can prove to be hazardous if you aren’t careful and the pleasant time that you are having on the road can soon turn unpleasant.
The reasons are many. The roads are filled with potholes, given the premium quality of materials used in forming the tarmac. Sarcasm intended. The visibility is lesser because fog is rain’s best ally and finding traction is tricky. Here are some essential driving tips which will make your driving experience a bit less troublesome and more enjoyable in the coming monsoon season:
Check car tyres’ tread
The tyres connect your car to the road and when traction is less than normal driving conditions, it becomes all the more important to keep a check on them. The first and foremost thing to do is to check the tyre pressure and the tyre tread. Make sure that the treads are at least 1mm deep. If they aren’t, get them replaced before setting out for your weekend drive during the monsoon.
Proper servicing of your car
When it comes to the visibility of the car, proper illumination and a working pair of wipers make all the difference in the world. During the pre-monsoon service of your car, make sure that all the electricals are intact and all the sensors are working in a fine manner. Modern cars boast of many sensors and they are essential for the vehicle to function properly because all the driving aids are dependent on the electricals.
Check all the headlights and indicators if they are working fine before you pack your bags and head out. If you think that a headlight bulb has weakened over time, get it replaced. It wouldn’t hurt if you carry a pair of extra bulbs in case anything happens when you are out on the road.
Check the wipers
Wipers play an essential role during the monsoon because they are the ones who clear the mess on your windshield and for a car driver, the windshield is the window to the outside world. If they are not in good shape, replace them with good quality wipers.
Drive more cautiously
Once you get behind the wheel, make sure that you drive more cautiously as compared to normal driving conditions. Because as we mentioned earlier, wet driving conditions are more hazardous by default because of the non-availability of required traction and the abundance of potholes. It is advisable to drive a bit slower than your normal driving speeds.
Driving aids like Traction control and ESP
If you are thinking of buying a new car and want to enjoy those long monsoon drives, it is advisable to get a car with a comprehensive set of electronics such as Traction Control and Electronic Stability Programme (ESP). They might not be of that much assistance in normal driving conditions but boy, do they shine in wet conditions when traction is at a minimum!
Aquaplaning is the phenomenon that occurs when your car goes over a large puddle of water while speeding and starts acting like a Jet Ski instead of a car. It is very hazardous because the driver might lose control as the car aquaplanes. To avoid this, refer to the point we mentioned above which suggests you to drive slow. In case you already find yourself in this troublesome scenario, get your feet off the throttle and try to stabilize the steering wheel.
Turn on your headlights
And not just during the night! It is advisable to keep them on all the time so that the oncoming vehicles find it easy to spot you. However, keep the headlights on low beam because you don’t want to dazzle the oncoming driver now, do you?
Use Foglights When Required
Foggy drives are enjoyable but as long as the vehicles don’t collide into each other because of lack of visibility. Make sure that you turn your hazard lights on if you are stationary and switch on those rear and front fog lamps so that the vehicles behind you can spot you and maintain a safe distance.
Clear the muck off the headlamps
When the rain has stopped but the road still has some dampness, a lot of muck gets accumulated on the headlamps from the spray of passing vehicles. It is advisable to clean them periodically for sufficient illumination.
Hill hold assist
While not all cars have this driver aid but it really comes in handy when you are driving uphill and if your car stalls in slippery conditions. With Hill Hold Assist, your car will not roll back and you can continue the climb.
Use discretion while going off the road
We often find it tempting to go off the road and enjoy the landscape more closely but use discretion while taking a decision because what you see might be a deception. Under the lush green grass, there can be a patch of slippery red soil which your 2WD hatchback won’t be able to negotiate. Have someone check the ground before you decide to take your vehicle there.
Wading through water
In a country like India, wading through water is almost non-avoidable. But some of us do that deliberately too, because it is fun! Know the wading capabilities of your car before you drive through the puddle. Cars with highly placed exhaust are more advantageous in such situations. Hello SUVs! Make sure that you place your car in lower gear and wade through the water with steady acceleration because that is going to prevent water from entering the car’s heart.
Keep longer distance from the cars ahead of you
The braking distance substantially increases during wet driving conditions and your car is going to require a lot more distance to brake in case of an emergency situation.
Be gentle with driving inputs
When you don’t have the backing of electronics, it all comes down to your manual inputs. Don’t brake or steer too hard because that might send your car in such a tailspin which might be a little hard to recover from. Avoid accelerating hard as well.
Go slowly through big puddles
Practice extreme caution while negotiating a big puddle, the bottom of which you cannot see. You don’t want your beloved car to crash deep into a pothole because it might hurt the car itself and the occupants too. If you see a big puddle, let other vehicles pass so you can judge the depth of it.
Water flowing across the road
It is more dangerous than you think. Water that is flowing and is more than 12 inches can actually make your entry-level car float! If you think that the depth and the flow of the water is something your car cannot manage, don’t try to ignore your instinct.
Brim up the washer fluid reservoir
We have already mentioned the importance of wipers but they work in unison with the washer fluid. The washer fluid helps in cleaning the muck off which gets sprayed from other car’s tyres’. Make sure to fill the washer fluid reservoir before you hit the road.
Use air conditioning to clear the mist inside the cabin
We often find that the cabin gets misty and it reduces the visibility of the windshield. Turn off the recycle function of the A/C so that fresh air can come in and use the defroster to clear the mist.
Look out for those nasty tyre sprays
Maintain an appropriate distance from the tyre sprays and especially the large trucks because they spray a lot of muck behind. It hampers the visibility of the car a lot and increases the effort to keep the windshield clean.
Make use of driving modes
A lot of modern cars today come with a host of driving modes which really come in handy in wet conditions. The power and torque get restricted in certain modes while also increasing the overall traction. If your car has driving modes, driving in wet conditions will become a lot safer.
Keep an eye for oil slick
Always be attentive on the road and keep a check on a rainbowish tint on the road which indicates that there is some oil on the road. It is very slippery and it may lead to a tailspin. Keep your inputs gentle while driving through an oil slick.