7 Tips To Protect Your Car When Stuck In Traffic

Modified On Jan 04, 2024 04:22 PM By Rohit

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A recent video showing multiple cars broken down on a popular expressway highlighted the need for educating car owners on taking care of their cars in such scenarios

Cars stuck in traffic on expressway

A long weekend is usually the most popular time to plan vacations, especially road trips. While it is usually considered a time to unwind and break free from the daily routine, it’s highly likely that you aren’t the only one planning a trip for that exact weekend. Most of the time, such scenarios lead to heavy traffic on the expressways out of metro cities. A regular witness to this problem is the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Over the three-day Christmas 2023 weekend, there were many reports showing cars stopping at the side due to breakdowns leading to a reportedly 12 kilometre-long traffic jam.

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Such traffic nightmares can cause incredible stress on various components of the car. But it gets more stressful thanks to the long stretches of inclined surfaces as this expressway snakes through the ghats, which is likely why many of the breakdowns spotted were due to overheating and clutch damage. To make you don’t find yourself stuck or stranded in a similar situation, here are some tips to keep in mind to prevent your car from breaking down:

Engine Temperatures

Engine overheating warning

No matter the type of instrument cluster, you will always get a gauge that indicates the engine temperature (look for letters C and H). Better equipped cars can also show the temperature figures on the MID or the digital driver’s display. If the gauge gets really close to ‘H’ or goes over 100 degree Celsius mark, you see an engine temperature warning light, you should immediately stop your car on the side and turn off the engine to prevent serious damage. The cause of overheating could be a malfunctioning radiator, coolant pump, or thermostat.

Kill The Engine Power

Engine warning light

Keeping the engine running for long durations in heavy traffic scenarios can also cause the engine to malfunction. So it’s vital to switch off the engine if you think you are likely to get stuck in a congestion for long periods of time. This is where the idle stop/start feature also comes in handy that can moderate the duration for which the engine stays on while the car is halted in traffic. We would also suggest that you keep an eye out for the engine warning check light which can indicate various issues such as engine misfiring and fuel system failures.

Roll Those Windows Down

Car with window down

One important thing to remember at such times is to turn off the car’s AC and roll down the windows. When going uphill or through dense vehicular patches, this comfort adds more strain to the system which is not an issue under normal circumstances, but can cause issues in prolonged traffic jams. It could also be a contributing factor to engine overheating. In hot weather, you can moderate the use of the AC instead of having it switched on for long periods while stuck in traffic. This can also help in further improving the fuel economy of your car on the expressways.

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Time To Shift Gears

Car in neutral gear

A major reason for cars to break down or for their engines to overheat at such times has occurred due to the heavy clutch usage when moving in bumper-to-bumper traffic or on steep patches of tarmac. The constant engagement of the clutch plate to avoid stalling or rolling back results in putting unnecessary load on the clutch plates and even burning them out.

Irrespective of which transmission car you own, manual or automatic, it is recommended to shift to neutral and engage the handbrake whenever your car is stationary to avoid the aforementioned scenario.

Take It Slow, Keep Distance

Honda City convoy

In long traffic snarls, it is advisable to follow a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you in case it rolls back on inclines or brakes sharply in an unfortunate event. It’s more important to follow this basic rule in case there’s a heavy vehicle ahead which prevents a clear view up front.

Also Read: These 7 Cars Under Rs 30 Lakh Got ADAS In 2023

A Quick Pre-check Of The Car

Check and maintain fluids
Service the air conditioning system

In case you are anticipating long stretches of traffic on your trip, you can try and be proactive about looking after your car. Before heading out for a trip, it’s always better to get your car checked or serviced to ensure all the components are functioning properly. This includes parts such as engine oil, various fluids, battery health, tyre pressures, and brakes.

Patience Is The Key

In such times, the most important thing to keep in mind is to be patient and to stay calm. You don’t need to try and cut between lanes of slow-moving traffic, or move your car to maintain your inch-perfect distance from the car in front. Not only will it help in efficient driving but also to deal in the most appropriate way in case any unwanted situation does arise.

In conclusion, we urge our readers to follow these basic guidelines when undertaking a traffic-logged long road trip to ensure that not just you but your car does not face any stressful conditions. That said, we wish you the best of memories and happy travels.

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