Now that you know how to drive in the rain, take some precautionary measures to ensure that your vehicle is prepared to get you through a downpour.
- Stay on top of your car's condition. Its brakes, tire pressures, tire tread depth and defroster operation should be checked regularly so that you'll be ready to deal with a deluge when the time comes.
- Most vehicles are available with antilock brakes these days, and safety features like traction control, stability control and all-wheel drive are becoming increasingly popular as well. Although all-wheel drive is really only necessary if you frequently drive in snow and ice, traction and stability control can be very handy on rain-soaked roads. Traction control helps you maintain grip by putting the brakes on the tire(s) that don't have traction, while a stability control system monitors your steering input, intervening with the brakes and/or reducing engine power as needed to keep you on your intended path.
- Although several tire manufacturers design tires specifically for wet roads, a good set of all-season tires will do the job for most drivers. Trouble is, some tire models are better than others in the rain. Along with helping you identify tires that fit your car, an experienced tire store manager can also be a good source of recommendations.
- Make sure that your wipers are in good condition and functioning properly. If the blades are brittle or damaged, replace them before you're caught in a downpour. Some wipers are definitely better than others, so ask your retailer for recommendations.
- If there's a chance of freezing rain, double your precautions. Carry snow chains, as well as a supply of salt, sand or kitty litter (the non-clumping kind). If you're stuck and uselessly spinning your tires on a patch of ice, stop what you're doing and place some of said material around the drive wheels to gain traction. Then give it another go, giving the car as little gas as possible. If your car has a manual transmission, it also helps to start out in second gear rather than first. If you live in a particularly harsh climate, consider keeping a small shovel in the trunk to remove excess ice and snow from around the tires in the event that you get stuck.
- Every car should have a good emergency kit — and not the $10 jobs you buy at the car wash. Sites like Brookstone and Emergency Preparedness Center offer pre-assembled kits that come in handy carrying cases. The contents of these kits vary, but when driving in rough weather, a tow rope is always a good idea — just in case. For ideas on how to create your own more complete kit, check out our article, "Create Your Own Roadside Emergency Kit."
In a perfect world, rainy days would find us hanging out at the local coffeehouse or holed up at home, petting the dog by the fire. Reality being what it is, you probably still have to dredge up enough moxie to go to work instead. Taking a few precautions and using wet-weather driving techniques will keep you from ending up sopping wet on the shoulder of the freeway, waiting for a tow truck. Or worse.