While the sound of rain hitting your bonnet can be very relaxing, the conditions of the road don’t often reflect that tranquil vibe. In fact, driving in the rain can be dangerous, with factors such slippery surfaces and reduced visibility that could contribute to an accident.
The British weather means a downpour can happen at any time – summer or winter – so make sure to take on board our top tips for staying safe when it’s soggy outside.
Make sure your windscreen wipers are working properly
One of the worst – but most common – issues drivers face when travelling in the rain is greatly reduced vision due to old or worn windscreen wipers. If your windscreen wipers need replacing, you’ll often find they’ll smear dirt across your windscreen which further obscures your view, rather than wiping away rain drops.
Replacing your windscreen wipers is an inexpensive task, so don’t hesitate to swap them out when they’re not providing you with a clear view of the road in stormy weather. While many windscreen wipers are compatible with multiple cars, they’re not completely universal. You can ensure you pick the right set by using our fast finder tool.
Check the tread depth of your tyres
It’s illegal to drive your car if its tyres have a tread depth of under 1.6mm, and for good reason. The treading on your tyres is what allows them to grip the road – a task which is already made more difficult when rainy weather increases the slip of the road while you drive. If your tyres are beginning to look worn, it’s important to replace them to avoid skidding or loss of control.
It’s also important to make sure they’re not under or over inflated, to maximise their contact with the road. Tyres in improper condition are likely to cause an accident on a dry road surface, but the chance is even greater after or during rain.
Take it slow
Your stopping distance will be reduced in the rain, as many slowing factors are impacted in harsh weather. This means you’ll need to drive slowly, and provide the vehicle in front with more room. If you don’t, you won’t be able to slow down and stop in time.
You’ll also need to drive at a slower speed through any standing water, as driving through it quickly can cause you to aquaplane and potentially lose control of your vehicle. Driving quickly through standing water can also force liquid into your car’s internal components, which can result in a breakdown – so it’s best to take it slow.
Don’t forget to de-mist your windscreen
Rain on a chilly day is almost certain to bring mist to your windscreen at the most inconvenient moment – so make sure to de-mist as soon as you see those foggy patches creeping in. High humidity and higher temperatures inside the cabin, compared to outside, can cause mist to blur your vision, but blasting it with your AC until your window is at an equal temperature to the outside should clear the mist away quickly.
If you find your window is misting up very frequently, clean it thoroughly, and consider glass treatments to prevent the fog from forming. Dirt and oil attract moisture, so a mucky windscreen is more likely to fog up than a clean one. You should also check the rubber weather-stripping surrounding your windows and doors, as any gaps or deterioration can let excess moisture into the cabin too.
Rain can really reduce your visibility – which means it’s reducing the visibility of the vehicles around you too. In heavy rain, you should use dipped headlights. These make it easier for other drivers and road users to see you, but it doesn’t dazzle them if positioned correctly.
If you’ve been driving in the rain a lot, it’s also a good idea to wash the lights on your car regularly – dirt and dust flicks up from the road as you drive, and it can cover up or blur your headlights. Making sure to treat your car to a good scrub regularly throughout the colder, rainier months should definitely be a priority, as well as a working headlight cleaning system. It’s also a good idea to replace any bulbs you’ve noticed have dimmed or stopped working.
Test your brakes
If you’ve been driving in heavy rain or through standing water, you’ll need to check your brakes immediately. If too much water has got into your braking system, it’ll seriously hinder your ability to slow down or stop.
If you think your brakes could be wet, check by gently squeezing them as you drive. If they don’t respond as usual, do this a few more times – this will often dry them out and remedy the problem without issue. Of course, if you notice your brakes aren’t working properly despite this, use your emergency brakes to safely pull over and call for assistance.
As you may have gathered by now, driving through standing water can really be dangerous for your car. It can stop components and systems working properly, which can easily contribute to an accident or some costly repairs.
When you’re driving in the rain, it’s important to be extra observant despite compromised visibility. Ensure you see any hazards like large puddles or wet leaves well in advance, in order to react and manoeuvre safely.
You’re more likely to break down in harsh weather due to its effects on your vehicle – so it doesn’t hurt to stay prepared. We really recommend having emergency and breakdown kits in your vehicle, along with warm clothing, blankets, food and charged up phones, especially on long journeys.
It may take a little longer for any recovery vehicles to get to you in harsh weather due to the slowing of traffic, so bare this in mind when you’re packing your emergency breakdown kit. If you have to sit with your car turned off, there’s no heating – and the cold often comes along with rain.
Remember, you’re having to take extra precautions to make sure you remain safe on the road – but you also need to think about the safety of others. Be conscientious while you drive and never put any other road users or pedestrians in danger.
Give cyclists extra room when overtaking, don’t drive to closely to the car travelling in front, try to avoid driving through large puddles that could splash a nearby pedestrian – always be aware of those around you and ensure you make their safety a priority, as well as your own.
You can find everything you need to ensure your vehicle in safe whatever the weather with Euro Car Parts. Simply type your registration number into our fast finder, and we’ll show you the compatible parts for your make and model. For more tips about driving and car maintenance, check out our other helpful blogs and guides.