A 10-step guide to prepping your car for the Monsoon
It's a bit strange how the Monsoon works. You have the romantic atmosphere, the smell of wet soil, the chai-pakoda and then there’s your car. Struggling for its well-being. This is a season that worries all car owners. But fret not, let us give you nine useful tips for the Monsoon to keep your car in top shape.
Ever heard, prevention is better than cure? This is an example of it. Getting your car thoroughly checked out before the season is one of the best steps you can take to keep your car safe during rain. Ensure all points are checked and replaced if necessary, including wipers, tyres, and engine seals.
Your vehicle’s paint
The exterior is the one that’s going to take the most abuse. But a little effort from your side will go a long way. Firstly, rain mixes with pollutants from the air and becomes acid rain, which damages your paint. Regular washing and application of wax will protect your paint, and it will also keep dirt and grime from corroding it. Ensure that the boot and bonnet linings are clean as rainwater won't drain away if those are blocked. For the underbody, you should invest in some anti-rust paint.
Headlights and tail lights
Keeping your lights clean and in working condition will help you a lot. And it’s also important to replace your cracked lights because water entering these can cause severe damage. Carry spare bulbs if possible. Use hazard lights only in an emergency or if you have stopped on the road for any reason.
Engine and Electricals
The engine is the car's heart, and it's essential to maintain it in good condition. You need to ensure all the seals are in good condition and that there is no way water can enter and damage the working parts including the alternator, starter motor, fuses, relays, and junction boxes. Carry some extra fuses for emergencies. Use anti-corrosion grease on the open battery terminals, and make sure the external wires are insulated.
Old worn-out wipers will not clean your windshield properly and can also scratch it. The rubber also tends to get stiff as time passes. It's best to replace your wipers before the Monsoon season. And remember to inspect your wipers regularly and change them when necessary. Check that the windshield washer bottle is full and that the nozzles are not clogged. Add a windscreen washer fluid to the water to ensure oil and grease get washed off the windscreen. A jugaad alternative is to use shampoo/shower gel instead of the washer fluid however they don’t work as well.
This is your vehicle's only contact point, so you should not neglect your tyres. Check the tyre pressure regularly and get the wheels balanced and aligned before the onset of the Monsoon. Take care of the tread level and also the quality of the tyre you’re using. If you live in an area with extreme weather, you can also go for tyres specifically made for those conditions. A pro tip is to fill your tyres with nitrogen during humid months. In dry weather conditions, filling normal air is fine, but when the humidity goes up, nitrogen lasts longer and helps improve the life of the tyre.
One of the major components of your car that get affected when the rains arrive is its braking system. Water splashes will make your brake parts damp. The brakes should not be too tight or spongy. If you feel you’re losing stopping power, press your brakes repeatedly to ensure they dry off faster. Of course, be aware of your surroundings while doing that.
It is just as important to take care of the interior. Because windows are often kept shut during Monsoon season, it's necessary to have your AC serviced and deeply cleaned beforehand. Also, check if your defogger is working as it should. The next step is to ensure your interior remains dry. Otherwise, it can give rise to unwanted bacteria and might cause a foul smell which can cause headaches and nausea. But if for some reason, you do get it wet, remember to dry it off as soon as you reach your destination. Keeping a set of old newspapers for this will be a good idea. If you plan to park your car for weeks/months during the Monsoon, it can also lead to an increase in moisture inside the cabin. Keep pouches of tobacco in the foot wells during such times. Tobacco soaks in moisture before it settles on surfaces, keeping the cabin fresh for your next drive.
Driving during Monsoon
Unfortunately, it is unavoidable to drive in the rain, but you will face no issues if you remain calm and careful. As mentioned above, keep your interiors dry by rolling your windows up all the way. Fill up your fuel tank enough as you might get stuck in a traffic jam.
While driving, be smooth on the accelerator and brakes. A wet road will considerably increase your stopping distance, so maintain a safe distance from the driver in front and reduce speed when necessary. Take cues from the driver in front, as that will give you a hint of the road ahead. Try to avoid stagnant water and flooded roads, but if you have no other option, the most sensible thing is to follow the path taken by the car ahead as it will give you an idea of what lies ahead. The ideal way of wading through is to put the car in first gear and accelerate gently maintaining a constant speed. Lastly, pull over if visibility is low or the driving conditions get worse.
Last but not least, you have to remember that you are not the only one on the road. In addition to yourself, you have to ensure the safety of others as well. A small thing like having mud flaps on your car will make driving easier for others. Also, while driving be considerate of all the two-wheelers on the road. Don’t splash through water and maintain a safe distance from them for their safety. Lower your speed and give way whenever necessary. Understand that pedestrians will try to navigate puddles and might step on the road for the same as most Indian roads don’t have footpaths. Be careful of that and try to predict their movements.