Vehicle Care and Driving in the Cold/Fog

Discussion in 'T&AA - Travel and Anything Automotive' started by JD666, Jan 5, 2013.

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  1. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    [​IMG]




    So its that time of the year, when the winter gods are overly-benevolent upon us here in the North and the fog shrouds our urban landscape . Here is my personal checklist that ensures my vehicles are in shape to handle the cold and the fog.

    1) Anti mist spray for the windows/windscreen and rear view mirrors - There are many manufacturers who make anti-mist or anti fog sprays. I generally prefer those from 3M. A good spray inside and outside, and a nice wipe after that. Really helps keeping the windows and windscreen clear from fogging up.

    Works nicely for Motorcycle helmet visors and rear view mirrors as well! A worthy investment for those who drive a lot in the night especially.

    2) Check your battery, make sure it has adequate charge -12.3V - 12.6V is a good voltage output. If the voltage falls below 12.3V then your battery has a low charge and could be prone to failure. If the voltage is below 12.1V then you definetly need to top up water or replace the whole battery depending on age/requirement since that indicates half capacity.

    Remember, Cold temperature/weather affects battery life adversely. It greatly reduces the charge storage capacity of the battery. So when starting up your vehicle make sure you give time first for the engine to warm up and then after some time start loading the battery/alternator with lights, stereo, heater etc. This will ensure that you do not overly stress your battery.

    3) Headlights/Fog lights. - Avoid using Yellow plastic sheets - It's a long believed myth, that yellow helps see better, well no it does not. It was believed that the scattering of light waves of longer wavelength would be lesser than scattering of light with shorter wavelengths so technically colors like orange, red etc would have better penetration through fog.

    However what they forgot was that Fog particles are not as small as they seem to be and don't really reduce scatter. For them the wavelength is enough to be scattered. End result it don't really matter which color your light is.

    But using a Yellow filter on your headlight, does reduce one thing, and that's the amount of light passing through. In effect reducing your visibility and the beam distance on the road!!

    So, whats the answer ? Most new cars in India have been fitted with a headlight tilt control. I have found that useful on many occasions for getting the beam throw right. Sometimes the full low position and high beam works and sometimes full high position and low beam. Test it out and find your ideal position.

    Secondly, Make sure your headlights are working correctly and are aligned properly so as to not blind oncoming traffic and also to light up the road ahead correctly. The right beam should illuminate the road ahead, and the left beam should be slightly further ahead with greater illumination of the left side of the road.

    4) Use of fog lights - This should be only when necessary. It's not about being cool, but I have seen every other driver in Delhi, driving in summers also with the fog lights on. Which is pretty lame, dumb, stupid IMO. Most fog lights are for visibility to others, since they have a higher concentrated beam for penetration through fog and then for actual visibility over the first 15-20 feet right after the bumper.

    Don't be a fool, use them wisely. A lot of people install 2-4 fog lights, and then state it helps them see better. Well improve driving skills, rather than improving the amount of annoying lights you can put up.

    Make sure all vehicle lights are clean before driving - The mist/fog, tends to wet everything, and eventually muck, dirt, dust find their way onto the lights. Keep a cloth handy, and make sure that you wipe the lights of your vehicle clean, before driving off. This will really help with illumination and visibility. If going long distance, it is advisable to stop at regular intervals and do the same as well.

    5) Heater & A/C - Commonly we've seen people opening the front windows just a bit to keep the windscreen from fogging up. However there are other ways of ensuring that it does not fog up without enduring the cold wind outside.

    Quick method for short trips of a few kms is to turn the vents to the windscreen, and blast the A/C on for a few seconds. Clears it up in no time. However not feasible if you are looking at driving long.

    Second Method, generally preferred over longer trips - Switch on the heating, first higher initially, and then gradually lower it down so that it just keeps the windscreen clear. If you feel stuffy, you can always open the vent to allow outside air to circulate into the cabin. Thanks to the heating, it won't feel that cold either but yes, do be careful if you are stuck in traffic, thanks to our friend pollution.

    5) Engine Care - With temperatures hovering around 0.7 - 2 degrees in the NCR and much colder further up north it is best that once your start your engine and leave it on idle for longer than normal (upto 2 minutes even). The engine has absorbed all the cold and would actually be at a lower temperature than the ambient air. The oil needs adequate time for circulation, proper lubrication and that happens only when it is at its operating temperature.

    If for any reason you have to head into colder condition or live in a place which is encountering such weather, it would be advisable to change the engine oil to a grade which is more suited for the weather to be encountered.
    For e.g.
    --A regular usage 20W40 or 20W50 would fail operations in sub zero conditions, and could cause friction damage to the engine.

    --Better/safer bet would be to switch over to 10W40 or 5W40 grade oil, depending on how cold it can be, where you are headed.

    Also follow the regulars, especially with turbo engines, to not to rev too hard too soon after starting, don't stress the engine till it comes up to operating temperatures, overloading the vehicle etc.


    [​IMG]


    Safe driving
    JD666
     
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  2. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    More points to follow. Please feel free to share your own tips/tricks for the season.
     
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  3. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Driving in Fog

    Driving in fog can be quite unnerving and stressful for those who have never driven in fog earlier, and those new to driving. It is very difficult to keep a track of your bearing, and also the road, and the traffic around you. Below are some pointers that will help you negotiate fog safely and get you to your destination.

    Firstly, prefer routes that you are more familiar with, rather than ones that might seem shorter, but you are not confident about. Knowing where the potholes, speed breakers, intersections etc are can make a lot of difference to the safety of your vehicle and you.

    - Drive with an instinct to brake quickly, rather than to accelerate. When we are stuck in traffic, or in slow moving traffic that gives us gaps to move ahead, our instinct is to go with the accelerator more, and as soon as we find a gap, we surge ahead. However while driving in fog, be more prepared to brake suddenly, rather than to accelerate.

    - Ensure that everyone in the car is belted up, even in the rear seats. In the event that you might have to brake suddenly, even a sudden stop from as low as 40 kmph, can hurt or cause passengers to be thrown forward violently. Avoid that scenario at all costs.

    - Be aware of the condition of your vehicle, and ensure that the visible distance is enough for bringing the vehicle to a complete halt. More often than not, you will find a stranded truck, vehicle or some other obstruction which will present itself at the very last moment. So a thorough awareness of your vehicle and its capabilities is important in knowing how quickly you can bring your vehicle to a halt, or swerve to avoid something in your path.

    - Be seen and heard before you see and hear - Sound carries pretty well thru fog, due to the higher density of the air. So when in doubt, use your horn adequately. If the fog is really dense, I generally lower my windows and stick my head out from time to time to hear and see clearly. Headlights should be on low beam, fog lights should be on, if fitted.

    - If you have to stop, be sure to keep the engine and lights running, since the lights put a load on the battery, and the Engine/Alternator keeps the juice flowing to them. Find a safe spot to the side of the road, preferably off the road into a run off or adequately wide kerb. Avoid parking after an unlit vehicle, since it will keep others from seeing you. So park before an unlit vehicle in the direction of oncoming traffic.

    - Find the markings on the road and stay with them. - I generally find the divider and keep it in my sight, so that I do not drift too much to the wrong side. However we find a lot of stones/boulders removed and lying on the side of the divider, make sure you don't crash into them. If there are no markings on the road, bring your speed down to a pace where you can make out the ends of the road, and follow that.

    There have been instances during trips, when my friend had to get down with a torch and walk and mark out the road for the car. Happens, but best if you are careful.

    - Keep the following tools handy - Flashlight, High visibility Jacket, Gloves. Can come handy anytime, especially on the highway.

    - Don't be egged on by other cars or fellow passengers - Know your limits and adhere to them. Strictly. Let the unruly person honking his horn constantly overtake and go ahead. Do not be tempted to race, speed up or drive at limits that are beyond your control. And do not get cocky. Fog can cause severe mishaps and car pile ups.

    - Personally I like driving in the fog, but bottom line, do not be intimidated by Fog. Keep a clear head and be aware, and you will reach your destination safe and sound!
     
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  4. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Any queries would be welcome
     
  5. sohail99

    sohail99 RAID Rookie

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    Awesome tips! I too love driving in the fog!

    It gives me a chance to use my sho-me warning flashers ;)

    Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 2
     
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  6. idutt

    idutt RAID Rookie

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    One query I have is cars which have xenon lights.How effective are they in the fog ? They are very bright light which gives excellent visibility at night & during rains.Can I fit a Phillips HID Xenon Conversion Kit because Iam trying to save money to fit such a kit in my car thanks to its benefits ?
     
  7. mavihs

    mavihs RAID Rookie

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    JD666
    i also like driving in the fog even though i have driven only a couple of times.
    good guide!!!
     
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  8. dbg

    dbg RAID Staff Staff Member

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    How does one like driving in the fog .. ??
     
  9. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    What I have observed, though others might differ, is that HIDs offer very good beam control, when used with an appropriate focus lens, since the beam cut is very distinct, and keeps light from falling on fog, reducing the reflection/glare.

    However if you merely swap out your existing headlights and fit HIDs, yep, they do illuminate better, but the chances of lowering your visibility also go up, since the light reflects off the fog. So test before you get it installed.

    Hehe, it's quite peaceful actually. And all the moronic drivers also tend to slow down and drive cautiously, which does make for a stress free drive. And nothing like a little change in driving parameters to spice thing up right? Much better than driving the same routes day in and day out. Also makes you realize how much of your daily route you remember, and what all you missed!

    The envelope of fog all around, and the silence in the air sometimes does make me feel as if I am driving in a cocoon of my own.
     
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  10. MOZ

    MOZ RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Excellent work as usual.
     
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  11. ManISinJpr

    ManISinJpr Want to resurrect.. !!!

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    Nicely written, most of these are important common sense points that normal people do not follow but as a general rule, Don't drive in FOG ! It is very dangerous as the other person might not be so safe in driving and I have seen many accidents coz of that. SO unless it is an emergency don't drive in FOG.
     
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  12. idutt

    idutt RAID Rookie

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  13. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Am guessing best way to test it would be to drive someone's car already fitted with HID ( Hitesh for eg ), and get a feel of the illumination and reflection.

    Its a lot of money ( around 10k ) to be put in for headlights. Hence I would not recommend simply going in and then realizing you dint need them.
     
  14. turbo99i

    turbo99i RAID Rookie

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    Very well written good knowledge, wonder why these basic tips aren't part of driving standards. From my experience in India and Europe I would like to share what is being practiced
     
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  15. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Bhai that would be most welcome, and would be very useful for everyone else as well! Maybe we could teach a few and make that teenie weenie change! :)
     
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  16. turbo99i

    turbo99i RAID Rookie

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    -The amount of fog is scaled on visible distance. If you can't see more than let's say 10 feet and beyond, turn on the front and rear fog lamp.

    -Use of Hazard light is not recommended as it designed for hazardous situations, i.e. where you would like to alert other road user if you posses concern to there safety and yours.

    -The hazard light is used mainly when vehicle is broken and is stranded on the kerb or anywhere on the road where you are likely to be hit by other road user, also when you are breaking heavily reducing the gap between yourself and the vehicle behind immensely.

    -Use of hazard lights is to differentiate between a moving vehicle and a stranded vehicle it's not a fog lamp.

    -Use of high beam and super strong beam won't help much in fog, all it will do is illuminate the fog and by the time you able to see a hazard, it'll be too late and you will crash into it.

    -The fog lamp is designed to illuminate the road at the bottom level to give you better visibility using Parallel beam of narrow aperture for long distance and less coverage, Hence fog lamp to be used in conjunction with main.

    -The driving speed should be halved or 3rd to the recommended road speed. Do not frequently change lanes and indicate way ahead if you do so. Remember the more observation you do the more safe you will be at the road.

    -There is homologation requirement, where every vehicle manufacturer follows a rule of setting up the head light to countries requirement, fiddling around with head lights factory setting is not recommended, as it will not only make it less effective but also make it illegal and violate insurance, check with your company how to set up the lamps correctly.

    -All vehicles designed around the world are setup to run on dipped (low) beam only, High beam is used only on lanes where you need long distance illumination only when no other use is in you beam stream i.e. dark country lane where it's hazardous and there is no speed restrictions and conditions around you is not well marked.

    -That's why most of the modern vehicles have two independent high and low independent head lamps.

    -Rear fog lamp is designed to have higher illumination than normal side lamps and have different long distance reflector, use it if you have it, if you do not have rear fog lamp then make sure you have the rear lamp clean and working as its supposed to be.

    -If you do not have fog lamp, use low beam, stick to road markings, drive slow, don't get distracted by music or talking, don't use mobile whilst driving and be weary of sudden changes around you without notice. De mist and keep your windshield dry as it doesn't get enough wind to clear off water.

    -Keep your wiper blades in good health, wipe them with clean cloth (the edge) and look for smear lines for defects. At last do not drive unless necessary and plan ahead of your journey.
     
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  17. MOZ

    MOZ RAID Leader Staff Member

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    JD, how about collating all the various tips on the first post?
    harryneopotter
    [private]How about posting this on WP[/private]
     
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  18. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    I agree whole heartedly!
     

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