Risks of driving in the rain
Water can do an
incredible amount of damage to your car. Common sense and good
road etiquette demand that you drive slow and carefully when
roads are waterlogged. Chandigarh has experienced some heavy
downpours in recent days. It was not uncommon to see cars
speeding through knee-deep water. It may be fun driving through
water, splashing it all around. But it is not the right thing to
do. Pedestrians, cyclists and scooterists are in danger and can
meet with an accident. As it is, the roads are under water and
lead to skidding. Two-wheelers are vulnerable but four-wheelers
skid just as easily.
The danger lies
under the water. Potholes have become big and deep. They can
damage the suspension easily. Open manholes can cause extreme
damage. Wet brakes become quite ineffective. As a result, the
breaking distance increases.
One of the most
extreme cases of water damage is a seized engine. Sounds strange
but it does happen. The air cleaner is designed to suck in air
and feed it to the carburettor or fuel injectors. Then there is
a combination of fuel and air mix, and it is sucked into the
combustion chamber of the cylinder.
This is the
induction stroke—the first movement of a four-stroke engine.
The inlet valve is open to suck in the mixture of air and fuel.
In the compression stroke, the second movement of the piston,
the inlet and exhaust valve are closed. The piston moves up and
compresses the mixture of fuel and air. The heat generated
vaporises the mixture.
In the third
stroke again, both the valves are closed. The spark plugs fire
the mixture and cause an explosion, which drive the piston down.
The piston is connected to the connecting rod, which, in turn,
is connected to the crank shaft. As the piston moves down, it
rotates the crank.
The final move of
the engine is the exhaust stroke. The inlet valve is closed, the
exhaust valve is open. As the piston rises, it expels the burnt
gases. The four-stroke cycle is complete. Back to the induction,
and the cycle restarts.
Now let us see
what happens when water enters the air cleaner. During the
induction stroke, the piston moving down sucks in water. The
second stroke, compression, begins. Both inlet and exhaust valve
are closed and the water is trapped. The piston cannot compress
the water but the con-rod (connecting rod) and crank keep
moving. Some thing has got to give. The piston cannot move but
the crank shaft is still pushing. Result? The con-rod bends.
Engine seizes. It will stop.
The technical term
for this is hydro-lock. So far you may have damaged only one
con-rod. However, if you try and re-start the engine by
cranking, the engine water may enter the other cylinders and
cause more damage. There is only one recourse open to you.
Switch off and call helpline for your car.
Happy motoring !