Are you a safe driver is your car safe or does your car make you feel safe.
As a sign of getting older I see more on the road, and the part that’s concerns me is the speedy drivers darting down the freeway from lane to lane tailgating everywhere
I can remember my first love, sorry I mean my first car at 18 years old, but I started a lot earlier at 13 years old but lets go to my first 12 months of driving.
At 18 years old I purchased a VW beetle, a red beetle running on 3 out of 4 cylinders this car had a nice smell to it, I was an apprentice motor mechanic at the time and I saw this little beauty just got traded in at the dealership where I was working.
I ask the owner of the ford dealership Mr Perter Durkin if I could buy this car and he was always a kind person and must of saw the excitement in my eye, I remember him saying in front of the service manager why would you be interested in this old bucket its runs on 3 cylinders, I said I can fix that, then Tom Geralt my boss said well its not that simple it’s a VW and what makes you so sure you can fix this problem, I remember it was a gamble, as the VW beetle did suffer from an over heating problem that can result in engine damage, but cocky little apprentice only saw the positive in this bug and took the risk. I purchased the car for $500 I remember it was a good buy at the time and Mr Durkin gave me some degree of favor, with the price.
So I got the little beauty into our workshop and adjust all the valves and then started up the engine, it run as smooth as a fine tuned engine should run. Of course Tom my service manager had to make a comment well young feller this time you were lucky.
This VW had McPherson strut front suspension this made the vehicle poor braking in the wet so anyone that drove a VW with McPherson strut suspension knew to be very careful in the wet or an accident was almost a given.
Getting back to original question about your vehicle and if it makes you feel safe because I would say many accidents occur when the car becomes unpredictable in the wet, because some drivers may not understand the concept of hydroplaning or cohesion, this bring me to my next point before you start to fall asleep.
Have you ever taken your vehicle to a defensive driving schools and therefore understood the limitations of driving in the wet or darting in and out of lanes at dangerous high speeds, don’t misunderstand me here I’m saying take a defensive course to learn how to speed quite the opposite the driving course will give you and understanding of limitations, and I haven’t even started on the tyres and the roadworthiness of the vehicle.
When you are driving your vehicle whether brand new or second hand there is a law of physics in play and as well as road surface conditions are playing a big part when or if you may find the need to brake suddenly.
So how can you understand the behavior of your motor vehicle in the wet
It’s a very quick test; we need to find a street without houses perhaps a new estate.
Travel at 20 Kms per hour in the wet and hit the brakes to understand the behavior of your car, the vehicle pulls up in a straight line this is good if it pulls to one side then we have a problem and will need to see our service centre to ascertain the cause of pulling to one side. If the vehicle will pull up straight then you may try at 40 if you feel comfortable.
At least this will give you some idea of what may occur when braking in the wet.
This has been written in the interests of driver safety
Written by Darren Gow-Brown, the Virtualmechanic.com.au