Auto Tips: Drive safely in the rain

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With Malaysia’s constant heavy thunderstorms and flash floods, we like to offer some crucial advice to help you drive safely in the rain.

Have you ever faced a situation when you’re driving and suddenly there’s a heavy downpour? You’re not alone, as thousands road users have had to confront such a situation on a daily basis, particularly if you’re a Grab or taxi driver. It rains three quarters of the time throughout the year in this country.  

Heavy downpour usually slows traffic to a crawl as people take caution for all kind of reasons. When heavy rain strikes, visibility will be affected. Therefore, most motorists will engage the brakes earlier in the rain then under normal dry conditions. The rule in the dry is to stop 2 seconds between you and the car in front, and in the rain it’s advisable to stop much earlier, within 4 seconds.

The other thing that all motorists should take seriously is the clarity of the car’s windscreen. Your windscreen should be clean, wipers effective and water jets positioned correctly and aimed at the screen. It is sensible to clean the windscreen, make any necessary adjustments and remove anything from the main area before you start your journey. When driving in the rain, the wipers are more effective then the headlights. It is also wise to ensure that the wipers are not worn out under Malaysia’s harsh heat and extreme conditions. As for headlights, halogens work better in the rain then Bi-xenons or LEDs.

When driving in the wets, aquaplaning is a major concern, especially when you hit higher speeds. Aquaplaning is where a wedge of water forms in front of the tyre and lifts it up off the road surface. This is caused by the tread not being able to displace the amount of water present. To recover form aquaplaning, ease gently off your accelerator, have a firm grip of the steering wheel and be sure not to make any sudden steering actions. The car will eventually regain its grip as the water clears.

When braking as the car aquaplanes, again don’t make any sudden steering movements and ease off the accelerator completely. The trick here is to prevent the car from sliding and losing completely out of control.

When you see a Flood, get out of the way or avoid it at all costs

If you’re faced with a flood, find an alternative route and avoid it at all costs, especially if the standing water is 0.5 feet deep or more. If there’s no alternatives, park the car on the shoulders of the road and hail a friend or a cab.  

However, if the standing water is shallow, attempt to drive through it is possible; consider this: the best approach is to press lightly on your clutch and add gentle pressure on your accelerator to increase your engine revs. For auto transmission, do so without increasing your speed and accelerate slightly but control the speed with your brakes. Do make sure that you drive as slow as possible going through the flood. After passing the waters, make sure to test the brakes and ensure they’re as dry as possible. Remember if water gets in the exhaust, engine bay or the interior of the car, it could cost a lot of damages, on the car and to your wallet. If engine should take in water, you risk an immediately engine lock and sudden stop. One more thing, if the water is fast flowing, do not attempt to drive through it, as there is a real danger of your car being swept off the road.

When driving on water, make sure not to splash other cars or people, for that matter. Perhaps, there’s a law here for such offences by local authorities for motorists who deliberately commit them.

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