Though it already feels like it, PAGASA has yet to declare the arrival of the rainy season. They say there are certain criteria that need to be met: the amount of rainfall along the western part of the Philippines must be at least 25 millimeters over five straight days, and it must be brought in by ‘habagat’ or the southwestern monsoon.
Nonetheless, be a responsible player in this waiting game and follow these easy steps to rain-proof your ride.
- Are your tires okay? These are your only connection to the road so this gets top priority.
Make sure the tread depth is at least two millimeters. If it isn’t, replace it. I know most countries have the tread minimum at 1.6 millimeters but do you really want to risk life and limb for an extra 0.4 millimeters?
Without proper tread depth, your tires aren’t dispersing water on the road efficiently. This may cause it to glide over a puddle and send you straight to the car in front or worse, a shed full of people.
2 Check your wiper blades and wiper fluid. Don’t wait for the first downpour to find out that you’re out of wiper fluid and the blades are streaking and skipping.
A rule of thumb is to replace wiper blades every six months or just look at it to see if the rubber’s edge is broken, cracked or torn up. Those are surefire signs they need replacement.
3 Make sure all lights are functioning properly. There are instances when visibility goes down to near zero when it’s raining and without lights, taillights especially, you just might get hit from behind by faster vehicles.
While it would be difficult for headlights to extend the range of vision because of the heavy rainfall, it will keep you visible to oncoming traffic, preventing 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, and they obviously won’t indicate direction with your hazard lights turned on.
4 Inspect your brakes. This is your vehicle’s most important safety feature. If you can’t stop, it is game over.
Look and see if your brake pads are at least ¼ of an inch thick. Buy new ones otherwise. Likewise, if you hear a screeching or grinding sound during braking. That’s the audio signal that the pads are worn down and there’s metal to metal contact already.
Check for brake fluid leaks along the hose or puddles of brakes fluid in places you park. Without brake fluid, the brake system would 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 absolute essentials and ones you can’t miss out on if you want to drive hassle-free during the rainy season.
But if you’re a stickler for detail and want all your bases covered, read on for a few more tips.
Wax your car. I know it sounds counter intuitive because you’re thinking it’ll get filthy in the rain anyway, but my concern is your vehicle paint job. When it’s raining, it is not just plain condensed water vapor that comes down. Chemicals sent up by manufacturing plants come with it, hence the term acid rain. That’s bad for your vehicle’s exterior. A layer of wax protects prevents chemicals that come with the rain from eating the paint’s protective coating and/or the paint job itself.
You can choose to foil your vehicle – that 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 (should be done every three months).
If you live in a flood-prone area, look for an alternate elevated parking area. That way, when it rains, you have a place to bring your vehicle before flood waters come in. If that’s next to impossible for you, buy one of those ‘bags’ to put your vehicle in – or more aptly, drive your vehicle in – and seal to keep it from water damage. Just make sure to tie it down so that your vehicle doesn’t float away.
Get insurance against Acts of Nature or Acts of God. It has gotten more expensive now but it will still come out cheaper than having to overhaul an engine or buying a new computer box.
Ready or not, the rainy season is coming. In fact, it can be as early as this week, says PAGASA.
So stop playing and get to fixing before you find yourself left out in the rain.
By Eric Tipan