Just the other day motorists were being issued advice and tips on driving in icy road conditions and now it’s time to talk about driving in rain since spring is (hopefully) around the corner.
Vishal Premlall, national director of the Tyres, Equipment, Parts Association (TEPA), a proud affiliate of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI), says there are several components of a vehicle that need checking in preparation for the rainy season.
He reiterates that while it’s important to be cautious all of the time when driving, it is particularly important when it’s raining as wet weather creates extra challenges, like poor visibility and flooding.
“Stormy weather can progress quite quickly too, from light rain to hail or a torrential downpour. The ideal would be to pull over somewhere safely and sit it out, but this isn’t always possible.
“If you’re on the highway, for example, this is the last place you want to find out that your windscreen wipers don’t work or your tyre tread can’t handle the water.”
“The best way to have your vehicle weather-ready at all times is through regular maintenance at intervals prescribed by the manufacturer. Older or secondhand vehicles may be out of warranty or service plan, but it is still essential to have a reputable workshop do a regular service.
“In rainy weather, good tyres, brakes and lights can be a lifesaver, so why take the chance with your own safety and that of other road users by not maintaining your vehicle?”
What to check on your car now (before the first rains of spring arrive):
Tyres: Check the tread and ensure tyres are properly inflated. Good tyre tread helps in channelling water away from the tyres, reducing the risk of hydroplaning.
Brakes: Wet roads can reduce braking efficiency. Make sure your brakes are in good condition.
Lights: All lights (headlights, taillights, brake lights) must be functioning properly. Use your defogger to keep the windshield and windows clear.
Windscreen wipers: Test to see if they’re working as they should. There should be no squeaking or screeching sounds. Replace them if they leave streaks or fail to clear water properly. The same applies to the wiper on the back window.
“In addition to ensuring all these vital components are working properly, remember to reduce speed in wet weather and keep a greater following distance,” Premlall adds.
When driving in rain beware/aware of the following:
Puddles: Avoid driving through puddles that you can’t determine the depth of or through standing water as it can lead to loss of control, hydroplaning and potential damage to your vehicle.
Oil and fluids: During long periods of dry weather, oils and other fluids from vehicles build up on the roads. The first rains loosen the surface oils, creating greasy driving surfaces that often catch drivers off guard. The roads can feel like ice when drivers hit the brakes.
Visibility: Use your headlights and keep a safe distance from other vehicles to allow for better visibility.
Aquaplaning: Water can accumulate on roads, causing aquaplaning. If this happens, gradually reduce speed until you regain control.
“On a final note, be aware that many drivers don’t adjust their driving behaviour for wet conditions. In fact, the stress of driving in rain can cause drivers to be reckless and make split-second decisions in a bid to get out of the situation faster. Be cautious of other vehicles at all times and try to maintain a safe distance from them,” Premlall concludes.
Feel free to visit a TEPA-accredited fitment centre for any further expert advice on your radiator or cooling system. Go to www.tepa.org.za to find an outlet near you.