Manila is a low-lying city riddled with bodies of water both big and small. Add the fact that a lot of our sewers aren’t maintained and people's penchant for throwing trash everywhere, and you have floods pretty much every time it starts to come down. This is a nightmare even for those who drive.
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But learning to live with and get ready for rain is just how it is for every Filipino. Motorists, and their beloved cars, should be similarly prepared. Here are some things to check before going out into a water-logged city.
Keep your car in tip-top shape
“I check in my car at the casa every six months, regardless of the mileage, to prepare for the summer or rainy season. Prevention is always better than cure,” says Ivan Co, who owns a Subaru Forester 2015. “I also have my car waxed at least once a month to protect the paint. I always find it helpful to my mood when I’m driving a clean and shiny car especially when I’m stuck in traffic.” Photographer Kai Huang says these are on his regular car-maintenance to-do list: “Oil change every 5,000 kilometers. Transmission fluid change every 30,000 kilometers. Regular fluid check up of power steering, brakes, and radiator.”
Check your tires
When the rainy season starts, Co says he checks his tires. “First thing I prepare for is my tire condition. It’s unimaginable to change a flat tire under the rain!” Peter Lei, who has a 10-year-old, but perfectly maintained Suzuki, agrees. “Make sure your tires are of the appropriate thickness during the wet season. Thinning tires have way less grip, especially on slick roads,” he says.
Wax every painted surface
Waxing is your car’s best friend. “Acid in the rain is a very serious cause of wear and tear,” Co says. “So I double my efforts to clean and wax my car during the rainy season.” Lei advises that ordinary wax won’t do. “Before the rain sets in, the car must be protected by high quality wax, preferably one with high carnauba content because this has more staying power. The wax provides a protective layer on your car’s surface making it more resistant to watermarks and scratches.”
Don’t forget the small stuff
To see through your windshield in a downpour, we all depend on wipers that work hard to sweep off the rain. “I just swapped out to a new set of silicon wipers by PIAA,” Huang says. Co also advises lubricating all the rubber parts (except for the tires, of course) with a silicone spray. “The rapid change in temperature during the rainy season accelerates the wear and tear of rubber.”
Clean your car
When it rains, people usually don’t wash their cars anymore for two reasons: first, they will get muddy anyway, and second, the rain will act as a car wash. Co doesn’t agree with this practice. “Washing your car is a very unpopular idea. It’s easy to assume that we should not wash or wax the car because it’s going to rain again anyway.” Lei explains why: “Dirt, sand, and soil get trapped in the crevices of your wheel. If not cleaned regularly, they can cause rust.”
Protect the inside of your car
With the tires and paint all ready for the rain, don’t forget to prepare the inside of your vehicle, too. “I got all-weather car floor mats—anyone who cleans their own car would relate to how important this is,” says Co. “This is crucial to preserve your relationship with your friends and relatives who hop in your car with muddy shoes!" He also adds an obvious tip: “Always have an umbrella. Bring a small one that would fit the space under the driver seat.”
Don’t drive through a flood
Another common sense tip that isn’t so common: Your car is not a boat! “Don’t ever drive through floods. Just wait until the water recedes before driving,” says Lei. Instead, plan your route, says Co. “Of course we have to avoid roads that get really flooded, right? I do my homework depending on where I have to go and I always have a Plan B to where I would park my car in case the rain reaches an alarming level. It sounds weird to have to look for another place to park but having that eye for ‘higher ground’ has paid off multiple times.”
Co, Lei, and Huang's cars may not be brand new, but they still look great and perform well. In case the vehicles need extra TLC, these are the shops these car enthusiasts recommend: “For Subaru, it’s always the casa in Manila Bay. They have the best service! But for my other branded cars, I trust Rapidé,” says Co. Lei usually takes his 10-year-old car to the dealership to have it fixed, but he also has a trusted mechanic. Huang goes to Honda Cars Shaw or Speedyfix in San Juan.
Subaru Manila Bay is at Aseana City, Paranaque, 02-880-9898. Honda Cars Shaw is at Pilar Street, Mandaluyong, 02-755-8500. Speedyfix is at P. Guevarra corner Sea View, San Juan, 02-722-6117. Rapide has several branches in the Metro Manila.