How to prep your vehicle for the wet season
Written by Eric Tipan
LPA or (low pressure area), southwest monsoon, tropical depression, and my favorite, ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone), are terms you’ll be hearing a lot at this time of the year. While the seasonal change is familiar to all drivers, it’s one that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Of all the other seasons and conditions, research shows that ordinary precipitation is the most likely to get you in an accident.
Take the necessary precautions before you get into an accident and make sure your vehicles is rain-proofed by following these four easy steps.
- Check tires
Make sure your tires have tread. This gets top priority because your tires are the only thing connecting your vehicle to road. They’re your only connection to the road so this gets top priority. Make sure the tire tread depth is at least 2 millimeters. If it isn’t, replace it. Most countries have the tire tread minimum at 1.6 millimeters but do you really want to risk life and limb for an extra 0.4 millimeters? With shallow tread depth, your tires aren’t dispersing water on the road efficiently. This may cause them to glide over a puddle and send your car careening uncontrollably into the vehicle ahead, the curb, or even into a crowd of people.
- Check wipers
Check your wiper blades and wiper fluid. Don’t wait for the first downpour to find out that you’re out of wiper fluid, or the blades are streaking and skipping. Rule of thumb is to replace wiper blades every six months. If you want to make the most of them, a broken, cracked, or torn up rubber edge is a surefire sign you need a new pair.
- Check lights
Visibility goes down drastically during rainfall. This is why you have to make sure all lights are functioning properly. Without lights (taillights especially), even if you slow down, you run the risk of getting hit from behind by faster vehicles. While headlights do not extend range of vision in a heavy downpour, it does make your vehicle visible to oncoming traffic, which can prevent a collision.
Lastly and probably most importantly, don’t turn on your hazard lights. Lit taillights are enough for other vehicles to see you. In adverse weather conditions, using your signal lights will be more important to drivers behind you. You obviously won’t be able to signal properly with your hazard lights flashing.
- Check brakes
Finally, check your vehicle’s most important safety feature, your brakes. If you can’t stop, it is game over. If you hear a screeching or grinding sound during braking, that’s also a telltale signal that the pads are worn down and there’s metal to metal contact already. Look and see if your brake pads are at least ¼ of an inch thick. Buy new ones otherwise. Take it to the shop if you’re not sure and have your mechanic check it out.
Check for brake fluid leaks along the hose or for puddles of brakes fluid in places you park. Without brake fluid, the system will be unable to create hydraulic pressure to amplify braking force, which means it will be a lot harder to stop the vehicle.
Those are the utter essentials and are absolutely non-negotiable. If you’re a stickler for detail, I know of a few other things you can do.
- Wax when dry
Wax your car. When it’s raining, it is not just plain condensed water vapor that comes down. Chemicals sent up by manufacturing plants come down with it, hence the term acid rain. That’s bad for your vehicle’s exterior. A layer of wax prevents chemicals that come with the rain from eating the paint’s protective coating and/or the paint job itself.
You can also choose to foil your vehicle. Foil protection lasts longer, but it’s also a lot more expensive. Foils start at PhP 20,000-25,000 while a good wax job is about PhP 3,000 (once every three months) at the shop or you can do it yourself and call it an exercise.
- Park in elevated areas
Look for an elevated parking area if you live in a flood-prone street. This kind of recon will come in handy when flood waters come in. If that’s not possible for you, buy one of those ‘bags’ to put your vehicle in, or more aptly, drive your vehicle into. Seal it after to protect from water damage. Just don’t forget to tie it down, otherwise your vehicle will start floating away once the water rises.
- Get insured
Get insurance against Acts of Nature or Acts of God. It has become more expensive now with the frequency of flooding in the last decade but it will still come out cheaper than having to overhaul an engine or buy a new computer box.
PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) announced early this month that due to the La Niña phenomenon, we should expect more rains that could last until Q1 of 2021.
So, don’t wait until you’re the only one left stranded in the rain before you get serious about rain-proofing your ride.