City living might seem like a breeze compared to country off-roading, but there are plenty of hazards in urban areas that need to be navigated, says Jeff Osborne, Head of Gumtree Autos. Here is what to do if the urban jungle surprises you with an unexpected pitfall:
Burst water mains or flooding
Unless you own an urban 4x4 or SUV, water can be hazardous to your car's health. If the water is 30cm or deeper, your car will lose grip and float. "Only cross a flooded area if you absolutely must. Swirling water can create sinkholes and even a low puddle can hide debris and deep potholes, which could cost you your tires. Approach water slowly at a high gear. Do not change gears, as the change in manifold pressure can suck water in. Speeding up can push water into your engine bay or flood other vehicles. Drive in the middle of the road if you can."
Heavy rain causes much of the same problems as mentioned in the first point. "Keep your lights and hazards switched on and use your de-mister. Stay out of the way of other vehicles as they can cause a bow wave that can wash into your car."
Extremely cold or extremely hot weather both have the same effect: it can kill your car battery. It is best to keep your wheels in the garage during extreme weather and to check your battery regularly. Heat also causes evaporation of the battery fluid, which can degrade the battery terminals and cable clamps, so be sure to clean any corrosive build up you spot around the battery. Cold and hot air can also affect your tire pressure, so it is important to fill up on air to maintain performance, especially if there are icy conditions like hail at play.
The bane of every city commuter has to be potholes. They can seriously damage your car if not handled properly. "Your best defence against potholes are properly inflated tires – they will be able to handle the impact more efficiently. If you can't avoid a pothole, slow down before you hit it while holding onto the steering wheel tightly. Don't brake directly over a pothole, which can cause serious damage," says Osborne.
Prevention is always better than cure and the best defensive driving move in your arsenal is a properly maintained vehicle. Stay alert, know your road rules and exercise caution when driving on city roads.