auto maintenance February 11, 2018

Car Care for Stormy Weather in Northern Virginia

Hurricane Sandy and other recent weather events have raised some concerns about our Burke VA drivers out and about in stormy weather. When rains are heavy, driving conditions can deteriorate quickly and make being on the road hazardous to motorists. Even light rain can change the conditions just enough to throw off your driving game if not careful. We don’t want to see you in the automotive repair shop for fender benders that happen in inclement weather. Here are a few considerations about car care and driving in the rain.

Mind the Gap

In this case, keeping a gap between you and the cars in front of you is a good thing! Stopping distance (normally 3 seconds apart) should be increased during wet weather as brakes can get wet when driving the Northern Virginia roads. Indeed, it’s preferable for you to drive more slowly and decelerate than to lean heavily on your brakes. If you have any reason to believe your brakes are not up to the task when weather conditions are good, you definitely want to have them checked out as car problems are only magnified in bad weather.

Brakes aren’t the only concern. How are your tires? Getting traction on slippery roads is challenging enough. Balding tires can make it difficult for you to stop and can even cause you to hyrdroplane on wet roads. Don’t go too long with aging tires as we head into rainy winter weather. (There are lots of good deals on Goodyear tires for Burke VA drivers right now – just sayin’.)

Keeping distance from large trucks and buses is also recommended, as the back spray from their tires can hit the windshield and decrease visibility further. Similarly, they kick up a lot of water that cause you to hydroplane and can also increase the amount of water getting up under the carriage of your car making your brakes wetter and possibly exacerbating other issues. If you must pass a truck, do so quickly and safely.

Lights, Wipers, Action

When visibility is low due to rain, you car lights are the primary way that others will see you so turn them on even during the day. Make sure your lights are working, especially those all important tail lights. You don’t want any close calls with cars coming upon you suddenly or worse rear-ending you because they can’t see you until they get too close to stop or slow down.

Whether a light or heavy rain, you need wiper blades that clear the window of water so you can see. If the blade moves to slow across the glass or smears instead of clearing the water, it’s time to replace the blades or perhaps the whole wiper if your car is older. You can run your fingers across blades too and tell easily whether the blades are hard and brittle.

Turn Around and Don’t Drown

There are lots of water ways in and around the Northern Virginia and DC metro area, as well as storm drains, that can overflow and make some roads extra wet and sometimes impassable. Be sure to stick to middle lanes as water tends to collect on the outside lanes and shoulders. This isn’t always the case. You’ll want to note the bank of the road. Water rolls to the lowest parts of the road. And as we noted on our Facebook page last week, please do not drive through through standing water on a roadway. Turn around, don’t drown! Water may be much deeper than you think. Once you are in a safe location, let a family member or friend know your whereabouts.

Of course, it’s better to stay off the roads road during heavy thunderstorms. Lightening, wind and rain are disorienting and make travel treacherous. If you regularly conduct seasonal auto maintenance checks and follow some basic driving principles, you can stay safe on the roads. For more on car care in inclement weather, visit Wiygul Automotive Clinic’s articles and tips section of our website.

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