Be SAFE and SMART in the Rain!

We at Japan Auto Care have put together some important driving tips for the rainy weather.

These pointers will keep you and your family safe as well as keep your car running.

Have your car checked for Safety

Most drivers have regular oil changes performed but has your car had a real “Safety Inspection” completed on it this year? Every year before the rainy season begins I have all of the following checked on my car by my experienced ASE certified technician:

  • Tire Wear/Tread Depth- It is recommended that tires are replaced when the tread depth is at or below 4/32 of an inch. The legal minimum requirement for tire tread depth is 2/32 of an inch. Tires should be wearing evenly. If there is excessive wear to the inner or outer sides of the tires you may be driving with over or under inflated tires or your car may be out of alignment.
  • Tire Pressure- The tire pressure setting for most vehicles is located on the drivers door jam and is usually around 32psi.
  • Brakes- Brake fluid should be checked for leaks and moisture. Brake pads should be replace when they reach 20% brake lining remaining or 2mm. Brake rotors should be measured at all brake pads replacements and machined if the measurements permit. Legal measurements for brake rotors differ for every car and can be found in a guide at your repair facility.
  • Headlights- Headlights should be working, light bulbs matching and pointing in the correct direction. Headlights that are not aligned correctly can make it difficult for you to see where you are going as well as shine into the eyes of oncoming drivers and cars you are driving behind obstructing their vision and creating unsafe driving conditions.
  • Brake & Tail lights- Brake and tail lights should be working, red lenses not cracked and the same color. If these requirements are not met you may be pulled over and receive a fix-it ticket. If the lenses are cracked the light may shine out of the cracks and obstruct the vision of other drivers.
  • Backup/reverse lights- If your car is equipped with backup lights they must function correctly.
  • License plate lights- License plate lights must always work. This is a safety issue for you, other drivers and police to be able to identify your vehicle if it is stolen, in a wreck or if you are simply pulled over.
  • Turn Indicators/Blinkers- Front blinkers must be amber in color and blinking at the same rate as each other. Rear blinkers may be either Amber or Red but must match and blink at the same rate as each other. If these lights blink rapidly you have a bulb burnt out somewhere or there is corrosion on one of the bulbs or bulb sockets and the blinkers may not be illuminating on the outside of your vehicle.
  • Battery- The average car battery should be able to hold 9 volts for 5 seconds when loaded with 250 amps. Some large car or truck batteries have different specifications. If your battery does not meet these requirements you should have it replaced. If you do not replace your battery when it is weak, bad or unable to hold a charge you may get stranded after parking your car. A weak or shorted battery can cause alternator failures and drivability problems as many of the components are computer controlled and require a full battery to operate.
  • Spare Tire- Make sure your spare tire has the correct tire pressure and that your car jack and tools are in your car. If you do not have roadside assistance ask your mechanic show you how to change your tire in case of an emergency.
  • Windshield Wipers & Fluid- Have the wiper blades replaced on your car every year before the rain. Even if they look ok the blades may be brittle and not be able to clear your windshield during heavy rainfall. Fill the windshield wiper fluid reservoir with a washer fluid and water mixture.

With your car fully safe to drive you can reduce your change of an accident or brake down and keep yourself and your family safe. Here are some tips for driving in the rain.

If your car Hydroplanes

Try to keep clear of puddles while you are driving at high speeds and especially during turns. If your car does begin to hydroplane do not panic, do not correct from the direction your car is turning and do not slam on the brakes. When your car re-grips the ground you may apply the brakes and straighten out your car. In some cases a vehicle will attempt to slow and stop from spinning out on its own. If you feel flustered or panicked after hydroplaning carefully pull over to the right side of the road or preferably to a parking lot and cool off. If hydroplaning causes an accident carefully pull over on the right side of the road or a parking lot, do not stop on the left side of the road or freeway. Many of today’s cars have ABS (Anti Lock Brakes) refer to your owners manual to see if your car is equipped with ABS brakes and follow the driving instructions in your manual regarding the braking system on your vehicle.

In case you drive through high levels of water

It is best practice to not drive through water that has accumulated in intersections and on the side of the road even if driving at low speeds. If you do not know how deep the water is you should try to take a different route. If you do decide to proceed through a large amount of water you must make it through to the other side without stopping unless you must stop for the safety of yourself or others. Drive with constant pressure to the gas pedal through the water. Make sure not to decrease your speed or take your foot off the gas pedal. If you stop your vehicle in a deep puddle where the bottom of the car and/or tailpipe is submerged or partially submerged water may enter your engine and/or intake. Many vehicles draw air into the engines intake for the air filter from down low close to the road, if water gets sucked up into the engine it can do major damage to the engine. You may even stall your car in the middle of the water leaving you in an unsafe situation. If you drive your car through a large amount of water it is best to have it inspected immediately after to insure the cars reliability and safety. If your check engine light comes on after driving through a large puddle immediately pull over, turn off your car and have it towed to your repair facility.

In case of a tire blowout

Remember not to panic, turn on your emergency flashers or indicate to the right then slowly and carefully pull your car over to the right side of the road while gently applying the brakes. Do not slam on your brakes and never pull over to the left side of the road or freeway. It is best for your car that you pull over and stop as quickly as the traffic permits but remember that buying a new rim and tire because you drove on a flat a little too long is not as important as the safety of you, your family and your fellow drivers.

If your car dies while driving

If you are an experienced driver you have two options in this scenario, if you are a beginner we recommend only this one. Turn on your emergency flashers or indicate to the right and slowly and carefully pull your car to the right side of the road. The second option is for you to turn on your emergency flashers and then put your car into Neutral and attempt to restart your vehicle. An automatic car and some manual cars will not start in Drive. If your car restarts leave your emergency flashers on or indicate to the right and slowly pull your car to the side of the road. Have your vehicle towed to your repair facility. Do not attempt to drive it any further; you can possibly damage your car or cause another safety issue if the vehicle stalls again.

Drive with your lights on and not set to bright

A few years back it became a law that if a driver turns on their windshield wipers they must have their lights on. Why not drive with your lights on at all times? If you drive a dark car in the rain it is actually hard to see you because you match the asphalt. From many angles it is hard to see cars of any color. There are reflections off buildings and the street therefore for everyone’s safety turn on your lights. Some cars are equipped with daytime driving lights but these do not always turn on both your headlights and tail lights so make sure you turn on your headlights and tail lights when it is raining. If you are driving in the rain, fog or when it is dark outside make sure not to drive with your bright lights on. Bright lights can obstruct the view of other drivers and in the fog it actually decreases your ability to see in front of you.

Remember People Make Mistakes

Drivers will cut you off, forget to signal or slam on their brakes when its dry outside and wet outside but remember that in the rain getting mad and acting rash in response to these bad drivers is even more unsafe. Allow people room to change lanes, actually follow the 2 second rule, remember to always signal, do not tailgate and do not brake check other drivers. Double-check before you turn into traffic or change lanes. Calm down, don’t get mad and be safe. Remember to always drive defensively.

By following these simple driving precautions you will help keep our roads safer. Everyone appreciates it.

Remember to report drunk or erratic drivers by calling 911.