Monday, December 23, 2013

Perfect weather for a long drive

Perfect weather for a long drive

This morning when having my cup of tea, the marriage of those myriad conditions around me was proposing the idea for a long drive. For a brief moment I really felt like taking charge of the wheels, obviously intercepted by the reality bug. What was it that made my emotions flow through the brim, what was it that asked me to rebel against the world and follow my dreams, what was it that the idea of a long drive started itching me suddenly?

In retrospect, I understood it was the perfect weather for a long drive.

The temperature was just one step away from being cold or you might even declare it as the farthest step away from warm. The sun was giving a mild fleeting look through the greyish clouds every now and then. The clouds which felt as if might pour down if they get amalgamated however the fissure between them was confidently portraying the fact that they won’t come down hard. The slightly cold breeze which was rustling through the tree leaves besides the road was also shuffling the clouds above in the sky. This breeze was cold enough to make you realise that the moment you shut your car door, roll up your windows and switch on the AC, you will only be able to see the breeze but not feel it any more. Yes! You don’t want to feel it but it’s just ideal for you to whizz past it on a smooth 4 lane highway where you can hear it racing against your windscreen.

What else does a man need whose first love is driving? It’s the perfect setup, it’s the perfect plot for you to break all shackles and meet your dream, live your dream and be a part of your dream till the car is running, till the road doesn’t end, till the last bit of strength remaining in you to keep your eyes open and cruise through and fulfil the highway odyssey which you never wish to end.

Happy driving!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Car tyre maintenance and rotation

Car tyre maintenance and rotation

When it comes to tyres, the myriad myths surrounding it are flabbergasting. Be it the tyre rotation, tyre maintenance, tyre pressure, anything and everything regarding tyres are spoken off in abundance, every mortal has his own set of opinions.

To unravel some of those myths and to unearth the points that really count, I put forth here the critical aspects of tyre maintenance.

Car Tyre Rotation:

The most neglected and often overlooked aspect is rotation of the tyres on a regular basis. This is the most critical aspect to get the maximum life out of the rubber. Any decent tyre can easily run for 50,000 to 60,000 km if maintained properly. The key is to have an even wear and tear on all the 5 tyres. YES! 5. Most people forget that the spare tyre actually is very important in this process, if you want to have the maximum from your tyres.

A simple diagrammatic explanation on how the tyres should be rotated is explained in the image below.

This rotation should be carried about after every 5,000 km run. This rotation works well for front wheel drive, rear wheel drive and 4 wheel drive as well. It ensures that all the 5 tyres are run in all possible directions with all possible weight combinations hence an even wear and tear for all tyres thus maximizing their life. In between this 5000 km if you face a flat tyre situation and you have to use the spare wheel for a few kilometeres then as soon as you get the wheel fixed, put it back in its original position and the spare wheel should go back immediately. This will ensure that there is no hindrance in the rotation policy. Sometimes the servicing centres replace the tyres while doing certain mechanical job, to ensure they placed the tyres in the correct position is almost impossible. Hence it is advisable if we just number the tyres for our sake of convenience. Use a simple paint to number the tyres somewhere inside the rim where it isn’t openly visible.

Car tyre pressure:

Second point to ponder is the recommended pressure. Always study the car manual and ensure the recommended pressures are maintained. Get the pressure checked regularly ideally every fortnight. The wear and tear of the tyre is significantly dependent on the tyre pressure. Anything higher than recommended will result in tyres getting uneven wear from the centre. Anything less than recommended will result in the trim of the wheel to wear fast. To ensure that the trim and the centre of the wheel have equal wear, the pressure should be ideal.

Myth about tyres: 

Another myth that surrounds the driving community is that while going on highway tyre pressure should be reduced. The logic they give is that the tyre gets heated and hence the air expands and might result in tyre burst. Well, scientifically it looks okay but factually it’s wrong. The companies give the recommended tyre pressure under COLD conditions. One should always get his tyre pressure checked early in the morning or late evening after minimal driving. Never one should check it in a hot day after a long drive. So when you go on a highway it’s always recommended to have a bit higher pressure than recommended rather than lower. If the pressure is lower than recommended the wear and tear will be far more as both the trim and the centre will be rubbing against the road, increasing the chances of burst. In higher than recommended pressure only the centre of the wheel will touch the road avoiding the trim hence less danger of tyre burst. Ideally during highways the tyres should have 2-3 psi more than recommended in all tyres.

Quality of Rubber: 

Besides, another insight is important to know more about the quality of the rubber of the tyres. If the rubber is hard, the life of the tyre will increase but you will feel the road more. The gravels on the road will be more noticeable although the life will be more for your tyre.
However if the rubber is soft, the feel of the gravels on the road will be less. Not to mention the life will also decrease. So it is kind of a trade-off. I personally prefer hard rubber with more life than soft rubber with more comfort. Obviously it doesn’t mean that hard rubber is not comfortable. It’s just a fraction difference of comfort and durability. To quote certain examples, MRF usually is hard rubber and Bridgestone / Michellin is soft rubber.

The brand could be anything; it’s how you treat your tyres that define their life.

Happy Driving!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Day Driving vs Night Driving in India

Day Driving vs Night Driving in India

Year 2006, Month October, I was driving through NH5 in torrential downpour, heading my way back to Cuttack from Hyderabad. Near Behrampur town at around 2 AM in the night, after successfully manoeuvring a lot of diversions because of the Golden Quadrilateral work in progress, I saw a straight smoothly laid road in front of me. With the intention to reach my destination Cuttack as soon as possible, I pushed the accelerator. I might be running at around 100 kmph but because of the rain, near zero visibility, non-fluorescent painted diversion, I hit it head on and that was the end of my epic journey. I was saved by the seat belts but in retrospect I know the blame goes to “driving in the night”.

Year 2013, Month October, Time around Midnight, I was driving through NH7, this time returning to Hyderabad from Pondicherry via Bangalore. A firm determination that I will not cross 100 kmph during the journey, made me realise how amazing night driving is, if you choose to stay within limits. My almost 8 year old Ford Fiesta (Petrol) gave a mileage of 16+ kmpl with 5 passengers on board and with AC on always. Now that’s something which cannot be overlooked.

This brings me to the topic of today’s debate, advantages and disadvantages of Day Driving vs Night Driving in India.

Advantages and Disadvantages of DAY DRIVING:

By day driving, I mean to leave very early in the morning just before the first light of the dawn, drive whole day and end the journey maybe just hours within the dusk.


  1. Normal biological clock prevails, no stress on the body to overcome the biological clock
  2. Leaving early morning, one can easily avoid the traffic exiting the respective city
  3. Visibility is the best – you can see tll the horizon of the road with all the road signs properly
  4. You can speed up to the limits of the road, of your car and of your guts
  5. People around on the road to help you in untoward situations – say a flat tyre, etc
  6. Easier to get reach of people to ask for direction if required
  7. Most eateries open along the highway
  8. Far less people driving under inebriated condition in the day time
  9. Roadside dhabas also have less lorry drivers drinking alcohol that time
  10. Lorry traffic is far less during the day time as mostly they prefer to drive in the night
  11. If ladies want to relieve in any of the fuel outlets, day time it is safer and cleaner
  12. No high beams from the opposite direction to trouble you and blind you
  13. Lastly the beauty and fulfilment of seeing the sun rise, while you are on the highway, is just beyond description


  1. A lot of villagers and local travellers can be seen on their 2-wheelers, even on the highway – might be a hindrance in smooth flow of your car, reducing your speed
  2. Crossing over a city is troublesome in day time because of high traffic, killing your precious time
  3. Heat is a factor to be considered, since AC will be on high power under high sun hence mileage will reduce to some extent

Advantages and Disadvantages of NIGHT DRIVING:

By night driving, I mean the time after 9 PM till the dawn.


  1. Less local traffic in and around city cross-over
  2. Less heat hence lower AC thus better mileage
  3. Smooth flow of vehicles on highway with less congestion


  1. High beam from opposite end is too stressful for the driver
  2. Less visibility in the night results in more accidents
  3. The normal biological cycle might trigger the driver to doze off
  4. Inebriated condition of other drivers might result in accidents
  5. Not safe for ladies if the car breaks down in midnight in the middle of the highway 
  6. Difficult to find help and support if needed
  7. Speeding up will be highly restricted because of low visibility hence journey will take more time


Since 2006, amongst all my long drives, 90% are Day Driving, for obvious reasons as mentioned above. Whenever I did night driving, it was for the reasons beyond my control. After driving 73,000 km, and after facing 2 unfortunate accidents, my money will always be on DAY DRIVING. If ever I do night driving, I will ensure I have proper 8 hours sleep the day before the journey; I will stick to the speed limit of 100 kmph all through even if the roads are too inviting and I will keep my senses wide open to ensure my safety and that of my co-passengers.