The first storms of the season are heading our way and preparing your car and your driving for wet conditions is important to prevent and avoid dangerous accidents.
Here's what you need to prepare your car for the rainy season:
- Windshield Wiper Blades: The first safety step to prepare your car for rain is to make sure you have a good working set of windshield wiper blades to keep the windshield clear. The average driver only changes their wiper blades every two to three years, although it is recommended that they are changed at least twice a year. Be sure to choose the right type of blades for the right weather conditions. Replacement blades can be purchased at an automotive store and are easy to replace yourself.
- Tires: Making sure that your tires are still in good condition and have good tread on them is important to braking quickly in wet conditions. The NHTSA suggests an easy way to check the tread on your tires. Insert a penny, with Lincoln's head pointing down, into the treads. If the treads do not cover Lincoln's head on the penny, it's time for new tires. If you need to buy new tires, you might consider buying rain tires that offer longer tread wear and increased traction. You should also make sure that your tires are filled to the appropriate pressure.
- Windshield: Consider buying a rain repellant to give you a better view while driving. Rain repellants affix a clear coating to the windshield that repels water and improves visibility.
Californians are notorious for their poor rainy season driving skills. Here's how to improve yours:
- Be Careful: The roads are most slick during the first rains of the year when oil and grease build-up on the pavement mix with water to make roads dangerous. Use extreme caution when driving during the first few hours of the first rains.
- Braking: Brake earlier and more slowly than you would in dry conditions. This gives you more distance to stop and alerts the drivers behind you sooner, as well.
- Turns and Signals: Take turns and curves more slowly and use your signals to alert drivers around you.
- Headlights: Turn on your headlights to see better and let other drivers know you're there. In California, it's the law to turn on your headlights when it rains. Don't use your high beams in the rain, though, as the brighter light will reflect off of the rain and decrease your visibility.
- Hydroplaning: Drive slowly and carefully, try not to drive in puddles, and drive in the tire tracks of the car in front of you to prevent hydroplaning. If you do hydroplane, avoid the impulse to brake suddenly. Instead, ease off the gas until the hydroplaning stops. If you need to brake, lightly pump the brakes, unless your car has anti-lock brakes. Read more about hydroplaning and skidding here.