It’s all over the news.
And it’s going to be big.
If you’re new to California (or you’re too young to remember 1997), El Niño is a weather phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean that can cause wild changes in the weather. Historically, El Niño has brought heavy rain and storms to Southern California that can cause flooding, mudslides, and nasty traffic on every paved road from Santa Barbara to San Diego.
Our team at Coast Motor Werk wants you to be safe in your BMW or MINI Cooper during these storms, which are predicted to arrive between January and March of 2016. Here’s 8 ways to prepare your BMW for El Niño.
8 Ways to Prepare Your BMW for El Niño
Southern California drivers are especially vulnerable to tire problems because of the dry conditions caused by the drought.
According to Consumer Watch:
- Tire failure is the leading cause of roadside breakdowns
- More than 10,000 injuries and nearly 500 deaths are associated with tire failures each year
- 15 percent of all vehicles are suspected to have improper tire pressure
Check the pressure once a month to make sure you’re Bimmer isn’t rolling around on a deflated tire. And make sure to do it when the tires are cool – the air inside your tires heats up when you’re driving and can give you a false test result.
If the tread on your tires isn’t what it used to be, we recommend changing them out for new ones before the rains come. A skidding BMW is a lot cooler in commercials than on the 405.
2) Freshen Up Those Wiper Blades
A rainy Tuesday morning commute is a terrible time to find out your windshield wiper blades are worn out. If your wiper blades leave streaks or skipped spots – or pieces of rubber fly off when you use them – it’s time for replacements. Also, keep your windshield washer fluid tank full with actual washer fluid, not water. It’s designed to break down any oils that splash your way.
3) Check Your Brakes & Brake Lights
Your brakes are your car’s most important safety system. We’ve said it before – a car that won’t start is a problem, but a car that won’t stop is downright dangerous.
Preparing your car for El Niño must include checking your brakes. These common brake-related problems (from our BMW Brake Repair page) are important indicators that your brakes need service:
- The car takes too long to stop
- Warning lights on your dashboard for:
- Brake lining
- Brake squeal
- Pulsation in brake pedal (could indicate warped brake rotors)
- Car pulls to one side when stopping
- Brake pedal sinks down slowly or goes too far when you step on it
Braking in the rain usually requires more space on the road, and you need to be able to trust that your brakes will be there when you need them.
Coast Motor Werk recommends a brake inspection at every oil change/tire rotation, and flushing your brake fluid every 30,000 miles (or less), which should also include flushing the antilock brake system.
4) Check Headlights & Windshield Defroster
You don’t want to be the car with one headlight “winking” your way through traffic, right? Inspect your headlights, as well as all other interior and exterior lights, to make sure that you can see the road – and other cars can see you. And speaking of visibility, a working windshield defroster keeps the view clear from inside your car, which is important during a rainy drive.
Also: California law says that if you’re using your windshield wipers in the rain, your headlights must be on too. Working headlights can prevent the dreaded “fix-it” ticket.
5) Test Your Battery
We don’t have a lot of experience with cold, wet weather in Southern California, but those conditions can break down car batteries and increase corrosion on your battery terminals. Don’t get stuck with a dead battery – make sure your next service check includes a battery test.
6) Don’t Let Your Gas Tank Get Too Low
It isn’t fun to run out of gas in any weather. Running out of gas in a rainstorm, however, definitely adds an extra layer of frustration to the mix.
7) Grab Some Supplies
Emergency supplies in your trunk can be a lifesaver (literally) during bad weather. A flashlight (with extra batteries), road flares, bottled water, snacks, and a change of clothes can make any difficult car-related situation both safer and more comfortable.
8) Visit Your Mechanic
If any item on this list made you think, “I don’t know how to do that,” bring your BMW to any of Coast Motor Werk’s four Orange County locations. We’ll be happy to go through this list with you and do everything we can to prepare your BMW for El Niño and any other weather that may come our way. (Let’s be honest: it’s probably time for you to get an oil change anyway.)