Saturday, October 28, 2006

good motoring
Handy hints for drivers
H. Kishie Singh

One of the most interesting motoring experiences is an event which has a couple of hundred of very serious motoring aficionados. The Eighth Raid de Himalaya is one such event. It takes 1100 people to run this event. The combined experience of the people involved could only be totalled in light years.

I picked up a most helpful hint from a taxi driver who had a car with a diesel engine. The engine is naturally aspirated, which means that it breathes with fresh air. The air needs to be cleaned so there is a filter that absorbs dust and other grit. After a day’s driving in the extremely dusty Lahaul Valley the filter could be choked. This will impair the performance of the car.

It is necessary to clean the air filter. The normal procedure is to blow compressed air through it and blow out the dust and grit. That’s easy if you are at a service station.

What is one to do if one happens to be on a high-altitude desert in Jispa?

I had just checked the oil, coolant, wind shield wipers, water and tyres. I started the gypsy and it had warmed up. I was cleaning the windshield when a taxi driver ambled up to me with air filter in hand. “Sahib! if you revv up your engine, I can blow-clean my filter”. Absolutely brilliant! Obligingly, I revved up the engine and he held the filter up next to the exhaust. Sure enough, the pressure was sufficient and plumes of dust shot out of the filter. It had to be one of the most practical demonstrations I have ever witnessed. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Then an amazing thing happened: Raj’s wheel brace broke and he was about to exchange a punctured tyre and the L-shaped lever snapped in two. I’ve never heard of such a thing happening but I have been ready for something like this. I have a half-inch G.I. pipe, about 20 cm long, that slips over the wheel brace handle. I use it to give extra leverage while opening stubborn wheel nuts. It would be just the thing to have in case the wheel brace broke.

Of course, you could carry a second wheel brace but who thinks of such things in advance. There has been a lot of talk about central locking on cars that has failed to operate under certain conditions. Manufacturers have refuted such claims and say that there is a manual over ride. One way to confirm this and set your mind at ease is to lock the car with the remote. Click! all four doors are locked electronically. Leave the window on the drivers door rolled down.

Now disconnect the battery terminal – the negative pole only. This move has switched off all electrical functions in the car. Move to the open window on the drivers side. Unlock the door manually. If the manual over ride for central locking works you should be able to unlock your door. Have some one sit inside the car, do all the doors unlock manually? If yes you have nothing to worry about in case of an emergency.

Happy motoring.