6 simple ways to keep your car nice and cool

Its pretty common that Sri Lankan drivers experience some pretty intense weather-as we live on the equator we experience a continuous summer and humid weather all year round. Thus, we often seek refuge in the comfort of air conditioning. Here are a number of methods you can use to combat the heat and humidity:

1. Park in a shade: One of the most simplest methods-park in the shade. Look for a shady spot and park your vehicle in a way that the sun hits the rear window and not your windshield. This may not be as effective as using sunshades, but its an effective method nevertheless.

park
A time honoured tradition: park in the shade and cool off

2. Tinted windows: If you have the money to splurge, its a good way to block out the sun. The last thing you want is having the glare of the sun disturb you while youre driving; this can cause accidents as it temporarily blinds the driver. However, If you don’t have enough funds to spend, you could always consider wearing sunglasses while you drive.

NOTE: If you are adding tinted glass, be sure to check the law regarding the legality of it.Tinted glass is OK for the rear windows, but it is an offense if the windscreen and the two front windows are tinted. If you are ever unsure, please refer the Motor Traffic Act. 

3. Sun shades: A pretty smart investment, these nifty devices block the rays of the sun, meaning that the temperature is a lot lower so your car stays much cooler than if you were without sun shades. If you don’t have one, try asking around at local garages and auto repair shops-they should be able to point you in the right direction.

sun shade
Grab a sunshade and reduce the heat
4. Open a window… slightly: Ever had a situation where you open the car door, only to be greeted by and all that hot air comes out in a rush? Here’s an idea-leave the window slightly open so that it allows for airflow. Be sure to keep them only slightly open (minimize theft) and you may want to reconsider this option on a rainy day!
 
5. Be smart about your Air-conditioning: Here’s a fast way to cool your car: Switch on the A/C to its maximum once you start the engine and open all your windows slightly. This allows the cool air to push out the hot air through the opening in the windows. This allows you to cool down your car quickly. Be aware though, and close up your windows afterwards. Furthermore, if you suspect that your A/C doesn’t work as well as it used to (ie: the air is not as cold as you remember), then you ought to have it inspected.
AC, A/C, Air conditioning
Be smart with your Air conditioning and cool off faster

6. Cloth seats-Hot seats are always uncomfortable. If you happen to own a vehicle with leather seating, we’d strongly advise that you switch to cloth. If you prefer leather seats though, get a seat cover/towel so that you have some level of protection for your skin.

 
We hope you liked these tips. Subscribe for more great articles and leave your own suggestions in the comments below.

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.

How to: Avoid Potholes & Bounce back from Pothole Damage

Potholes.

These are probably some of the more annoying aspects of driving. We all get a little annoyed when we hit a pothole since it makes the ride uncomfortable, usually just for a moment. Here. let’s look at the best way to tackle potholes, and how to recognize pothole damage.

 How do I avoid potholes?

1. Beware of Puddles: Given the fact that we’ve have a lot of rain recently, be wary of puddles. Some puddles usually aren’t  very deep, but be careful- the last thing you want to do is to find out the hard way!

pothole
Try to avoid potholes when driving!

2. Keep your eyes on the road: As we have mentioned earlier, Sri Lanka is a country which has a number of road accidents every year. A contributing factor is texting while driving. When you’re driving, be aware of your surroundings and keep your eyes peeled for potholes.

3. Take care of your tyres and suspension: Tyres are more likely to get damaged when tyre pressure is low. In a similar way, if your shock absorbers are hit badly as a result of a pothole, your undercarriage becomes more vulnerable to damage.

car suspension
With your Car’s suspension, its whats inside that counts

4. Watch your Need for Speed– If the road you are travelling on has obstacles such as parked vehicles, narrow lanes or potholes, don’t speed. The faster you go, the greater the damage onto your car.

5. Hang on: If you can’t stop yourself from hitting a pothole, grip  your steering wheel tightly to ensure that you maintain control of your vehicle. Don’t brake, just let your car absorb the blow.

I tried everything, but I ended up hitting a pothole! Should I be worried?

It depends. If you encounter the following signs of pothole damage you ought to have your vehicle checked.

1. Alignment problems: Instead of going straight, you know you have problems if your vehicle veers too much to the left or the right. Furthermore, if one of your tyres is more worn out than the other, take a look at your vehicle’s alignment.

2. Tyre damage: If you hit a pothole hard, immediately slow down and pullover. Your tyres don’t necessarily have to blowout at the point of impact. Take a look at possible damage on the sidewalls and rims of the tyres. Severe damage could indicate that a blowout is imminent.

dent
Check for damage to your tyres and rims

3. Bumpy  Ride: If you hit a pothole and your car’s suspension system gets adversely affected, expect a bumpy ride. The suspension system is made to make your journey smoother. Hitting potholes harder often means that the shock absorption mechanism gets damaged, so please be careful.

4. Difficulty steering: If you can’t control you car when making turns or even simply going straight ahead, could mean that you have issues with your steering wheel.

steering
If you can’t control your car, you’ve got a problem

5. Problems down under: If there is a scratch on the bottom of your vehicle, it may not be a big deal for some people. However, you ought to take a look underneath to ensure that the undercarriage is OK.

6. Call your motor insurance company: If you have a motor insurance policy with HNB General Insurance, you may be eligible for a payment to cover repair costs. To find out more, call our HNB General Insurance hotline on 0114-883-883.

Liked this article? If you did, share & subscribe for more great content. See you next week!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.

6 Easy Ways to Protect Your Car and its Valuables from Theft

Your vehicle is your primary mode of transportation and depending on who you are, may be a significant source of pride in  your life. How terrible would it be to lose your dream vehicle? It can happen in a moment, so be careful. To avoid car theft, use the following common sense steps to keep your vehicle as well as your valuables safe and secure

  • If you are parking, ensure that you park your vehicle in an area which is well-lit, or near a busy area, such as near the entrance/exit of a shop where there are people nearby
  • Lock your doors and windows, even if it’s for a short while
  • Keep your  keys on you at all times. Especially if you are running out to the ATM or grab a quick bite to eat
car_theft-580x386
Protecting your Vehicle & Your Valuables is Easier than you think
  • Keep valuable items away from prying eyes: Simple enough. If someone sees a laptop, phone’s, camera’s, credit cards or other valuable items in your car unattended, they may be interested in stealing it.
  • Go with your gut: If something looks amiss, such as the location or the people nearby: don’t park your vehicle. Never confront anybody since its not worth it. If you are genuinely concerned about yourself/someone else, stay in your car and call the police.
  • If you haven’t got one already, consider purchasing a car alarm/ security device for your vehicle

Whats the best advice you’d suggest if you want to protect your vehicle and the objects inside? Tell us in the comments!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.

8 Ways to Drive in Wet Weather

December usually heralds the season of Christmas trees, families spending time together, numerous parties and last-minute dashes to buy presents. However, it also rains during this particular month. As a result, the roads in Sri Lanka become even more dangerous than they usually are. Nobody wants to get involved in a motor accident, so here are some tips to get to your destination safely.

1. Lights on… to a point: Using your lights allow drivers to increase visibility, and make you more visible to other motorists. Sometimes, you may need to use fog lights as per the situation. Use your best judgement, but please don’t put your lights too high, as it is a significant distraction to other drivers, and is a very dangerous thing to do as the driver may lose sight for a moment and lose control.

2. Pay attention: This means no phones or other distractions. Driving in Sri Lanka is hard enough, but with rain affected roads, the margin of error is even smaller. Make sure that you pay close attention to your surroundings and drive safe.

steering and drive carefully during wet weather
Image Credit: Bigotires

3. Slow and Steady: It’s normal that you want to get your destination quickly, but it’s always better to get there a little late than to not get there at all. On wet roads, make sure you put more braking distance as you need plenty of time to react to the slippery conditions. Besides, slow and steady always wins the race.

4. Use a light touch: Irrespective of whether you are making a turn, steering or hitting the brakes, make sure that you make controlled movements. If your driving is steady, your vehicle will also be steady.

5. To the Left, to the left: Since you’re driving slow (see Tip 3), move to far left and allow other vehicles to overtake you. Its annoying to have drivers who don’t know how to use lanes properly, much more so during slippery driving conditions.

hydroplaning, driving in floods, driving in rain, driving in wet weather
Image credit: Roaddriver

6. Beware of water: Seems obvious, but avoid water whenever you can. Driving through water can harm your engine and brakes. A good rule of thumb to observe: if the water level is higher than the bottom of your doors, don’t drive through. Worst case scenario, you may need to take another route, but that’s always better than having your vehicle get stuck as it pours outside.

7. Demist the front and back windscreen: It’s very simple, use your heater so that you have maximum visibility when you are on slippery roads.

8. If possible, leave more time for your journey: This will allow you to relax and drive slower, while allowing you to take account for potential traffic jams.

Any tips you would like to add to our list? Tell us in the comments section!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.

Attention! This car is powered by human brainwaves

Pay Attention

The Royal Automobile Club (RAC) of Western Australia has introduced the worlds first Attention powered car. Did you pay attention to the announcement?

Attention powered car
Image credit: RAC

How it works

Using brainwaves, the driver wears a headset while driving. The headset measures brain activity in real-time and monitors if the driver is focused by measuring the following criteria; engagement, excitement, fatigue, head movement rate and distraction. If the driver loses focus due to say, a sudden text message on their mobile phone and tries to take a sneak peek,  the device will detect that the driver has lost focus, and ‘reacts’ by slowing down the vehicle. As discussed earlier,  hands free technology doesn’t help minimize risk, so going along this particular route may be a step in the right direction.

Headset
The Headset. Image Credit: CNET

The Car slows down if at least one of these 3 things happen:

1. You switch tasks. i.e. your attention goes from the road to the radio.2. Your neural activity dips, or your blink and eye scan rate slows significantly i.e. you’re zoning out or fatigued.

3. The in-built Gyroscope detects that you’ve significantly turned your head away from the road.

International appeal?

Just like Sri Lanka, road safety is an issue around the world, with inattentive driving causing upto 12% of all motor accidents in Western Australia. Granted, the vehicle doesn’t look to be something which average motorists would buy-its highly unlikely that motorists would be inclined to wear a headset every time they go behind the wheel. Its a great tool to fight driver distraction but the results of these findings could be implemented in another way, say by creating an alarm which alerts motorists that they aren’t paying attention.

We are very excited about this technology. However, we want your thoughts. Tell us what you think in the comments!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.


Sources

Find out More: Inattention, For The Better. [Accessed 13th November 2014].

Find out More: RAC’s Attention Powered Car, For The Better. [Accessed 13th November 2014].

Vehicle Safety Checklist: These 8 Features Could Save Your Life

Whether you are buying your first vehicle or deciding to upgrade to a newer model, it is imperative to look into safety. Considering that there are a high number of road accidents in Sri Lanka it becomes necessary to look at safety features as much as the model, fuel efficiency, top speed, engine etc. Here is a review of the safety features you should look into: after all, it could save your life.

1) Seatbelts: These have been around for a long time and offer good protection during crashes. Some vehicles provide additional features such as extenders and pretensions, which provide passengers a safe position without compromising on comfort. Worn properly, these ensure that the passengers are inside the vehicle at all times and minimise the risk of individuals injuring themselves on the windshield, steering wheel or dashboard.

2) Parking Assistance: Parking can be an absolute nightmare, as drivers have to constantly keep looking over their shoulder. With intelligent parking assistance, drivers can use the sensors, cameras and steering angle to their advantage. Keep it mind though, it is still an aid, and unless you have a vehicle which self parks, you still need to learn how to park your own vehicle!

3) Airbags: These have been a standard feature for most vehicles since the late 1990’s. Sensors detect a collision and trigger the deployment of the bags, which inflate in the blink of an eye. These bags ensure that passengers and drivers minimise head injury. However, young children (under 13) must never be in the front seat as the air bags have the capacity to severely injure children and those who do not wear seatbelts. In the mid/late 2000’s,  side air bags were introduced as they offer additional protection to the passengers’ head and torso in the event of a side-on collision.

crash test

4) Sideview Assist: The sensors in your vehicle make it helpful to locate another vehicle in your blind spot and inform you via a beep or a light if there is a possibility of a collision. This technology is especially useful when a driver wishes to change into another lane but cannot see another vehicle as it in his/her blind spot.

5) Anti Lock Brakes:  These are a Godsend as they are designed to prevent the wheels from locking, thereby preventing your automobile from skidding. This is done by applying pressure quickly as the driver hits the brakes. This translates into a shorter stopping distance on wet roads, which is useful during the rainy season. All this enables the driver to control his/her vehicle, which can help reduce accidents.

6) Tyre pressure monitor: As we have mentioned earlier, ignoring tyre pressure can wear down your tyres and cause a blowout. In Sri Lanka, due to the heat and humidity, the tyres lose air  faster. The type of tyre pressure monitors vary as they can measure your tyre pressure directly, or estimate the air lost via the use of sensors. Nonetheless, its always best to check your tyre pressure manually the next time you go to a petrol station, just in case.

7) Electronic Stability Control: The Electronic Stability Control, aka ESC is a safety system which can ‘feel’ when the vehicle starts to lose control and takes over by applying the brakes in order to get the vehicle back on track. This is especially useful for drivers who drive on wet, slippery roads or end up driving for long hours at a time.Electronic Stability Control, is an excellent safety feature for your automobile8) Head restraint: A lot of individuals believe that these are simply used as a headrest. However, they are designed in order to restrict head movement if another vehicle collided with yours, especially in the rear. This allows for the reduction of neck and shoulder injuries for both passenger and driver. Ensure that the head restraint can be locked into position: it must be as close to the back of your head and as high as your eyes. If you share a vehicle, ensure that your head restraint is fit to suit your head in order to minimize injury.

Got more safety features we’ve missed? Tell us in the comments, and subscribe for more articles!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.


 

Road Rage in Sri Lanka: Are You at Risk?

Road accidents in Sri Lanka are a daily occurrence, with numerous cases being highlighted in the news. In large cities such as Colombo and Kandy, accidents are far more common due to the large numbers of varied transportation options (three wheelers, trucks, automobiles, buses etc) and due to more narrower, sometimes overcrowded roads.

road rage

The Ministry of Transport estimated the total vehicle population to be at 5million (see above) as of 2013. The most recent case of an accident highlighted in the news (at the time of writing) involves two buses colliding on the Southern expressway.

In the HNB Assurance call centre alone, this year we have been at our busiest on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays, with an average of 60 motor claims per day, an increase from 2013 where the corresponding number was 50. Furthermore, our data reveals that in the last two years an overwhelming majority of these claims (98%) are road accidents, with theft of parts and flooding a distant second.

Attempts have been made to identify the causes of these accidents. Dr. Godakumbura singles out young drivers suggesting that they are more likely to drive faster, use their mobile phones when driving, more likely to drive late at night and are more likely to feel the effects of alcohol than older drivers. He adds that motorcyclists and three wheel drivers are highly involved in road accidents. This view is supported by Dissanayake  and the Ministry of Transport.  Dissanayake reveals that a large number of motorcyclists  travel without using a helmet, which is a leading cause of injury. Authors such as Fazlulhaq report that upto 60% of grievous injuries and fatal accidents are caused by a combination of high speed and driver fatigue.

driver fatigue

The economic impact of road accidents has been documented and the results are that families suffer heavily as their primary breadwinner (often a male) is badly injured or even killed due to road accidents, and just 14% of these families possess life insurance in order to protect themselves from such tragedies. In fact, certain reports suggest that road accidents cost Sri Lanka over Rs 9.3billion annually.

Which brings us to you, dear reader. Are you at risk? Take a moment to consider about how you drive; do you exceed the speeding limit? Do you race other cars on the roads and overtake dangerously? Chances are some of you who are reading this article have had first or second hand experience with an automobile accident. We kindly request you, whether motorist or pedestrian, to follow these tips the next time you travel:

  • Don’t drive if you are tired. Rest or have someone else drive you.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings, all it takes is for someone to make one small mistake which can have a large impact on your life.
  • Drive slower. Its better to get there late than not get there at all. If you must be somewhere on time, leave earlier to beat the traffic.
  • Do not use your phones while you drive/cross, your attention must on the road at all times.
  • Wear your seatbelt. Not only is it the law, but it could save your life in case the unexpected happens.
  • Don’t drink and drive.  Ever. If you take the wheel under the influence of alcohol you are taking your life, and the life of others into your own, unsteady hands.
  • If you haven’t already, look into motor insurance and life insurance to safeguard you and your family against the unexpected.

Do you have any more tips on road safety? Tell us in the comments and subscribe for more road safety tips.

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing. 


Sources

The Ministry of Transport Sri Lanka, Statistics, Department of Motor Traffic: Vehicle Population.

The Ministry of Transport Sri Lanka, Statistics, National Council for Road Safety: Vehicle Accidents.

7 Tips to Make Your Vehicle Run Longer

Want information about extending the life of your vehicle? Look no further, we have compiled a list to assist you in maintaining your automobile and helping it perform at its peak for longer.

1) Tyre Pressure

Monitor your tyre pressure on a regular basis, especially when driving on uneven roads inundated with pot holes. In addition, warm weather causes tyres to lose air at a faster rate. Monitoring your tyre pressure becomes vital as it will ensure you have a stable ride, and results in fewer blowouts. Furthermore, different vehicles have different tyre pressures, so make sure you consult your owner’s manual as ‘one pressure does not fit all’  in this case.

2) Engine Oil

This should probably should be the first on this list, changing engine oil on a regular basis arguably contributes to a high performing engine. Periodic oil changes, specified by the vehicle manufacturer ensures that your engine has a longer lifespan.

3) Wheel alignment

It may seem like common sense, but aligning wheels is something a lot of drivers forget to do. Aligning the wheels correctly leads to a smoother ride, maximizes fuel efficiency and causes minimal waste to your tyres, meaning you have a longer tyre lifespan.

Auto Mechanic at work. Image credit:  http://professionalexhaust.com.au

4) Engine and Battery

The engine is the heart of any vehicle. Keeping good care of it ensures that your vehicle has a longer life-cycle. Take engine maintenance and repairs very seriously by taking it to a trusted dealer of your choice. Like a good partnership, a strong engine works in sync with a reliable battery, which also needs regular maintenance (ie: regular cleaning of terminals, topping up the cells and maintaining the recommended PH value for optimum performance).

5) Brakes

In recent years, Toyota have had to recall their vehicles due to faulty breaks. We advise you to regularly check your brakes as it presents a major safety hazard. Look into the wear and tear of the brake pads/shoes as well as the braking mechanism to ensure that your vehicle stops when you need it to.

6) A/C repair

For those who travel in hot, humid conditions such as in Sri Lanka, the A/C breaking down can be  major nightmare. In addition, refrigerant leaks from the A/C unit and can harm the environment and cause possible damage to your compressor and evaporator. Regularly maintaining your air conditioning unit, such as cleaning the air filter will ensure you have a more comfortable ride.

Businesswoman driving in an air conditioned vehicle

7) Interior cleaning: Odor and Dirt Removal

Let us be honest: nobody likes a dirty automobile. If you smoke, have small children and/or pets, there is a much higher likelihood that your vehicle will be a lot messier than the average user. Make it a point to keep your interior clean by vacuuming and cleaning away the dust, dirt, stains and impurities from the seats, carpets and the upholstery.

What are your vehicle maintenance tips? Tell us in the comments!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.


Sources

Tabuchi,H 2010, Toyota is to Recall 2010 Prius Model Cars for Brakes, The New York Times 7 February. [Accessed 25th August 2014].

Toyota says to recall 242,000 vehicles for brake glitch, Reuters, 5 June  2013. [Accessed 27th August 2014].