So, you’re finally ready to buy your first car. You’ve looked through thousands of ads for cars on JiJi, set your budget, found your favourite make and model, and can’t wait to sit behind the wheel of your new car. But before you go on your first car trip, you need to know that the roads in Nigeria are not all straight and smooth – sometimes difficult terrains will challenge your driving skills and your patience, and if you’re not completely ready for those challenges, perhaps our guide for driving in any terrain will help you feel better on the road.
Driving on an ascending or descending road in a hilly location requires extra attention from you as a driver. If there is an ascending road ahead of you, make sure to approach it absolutely straight and not diagonally – otherwise you risk rolling back down the road, especially if the weather conditions are complicated or your car doesn’t have enough grip with the ground. Also it’s compulsory to put your car on the highest gear when you’re approaching an ascend – with its help you’ll climb the hill more easily and avoid your wheels spinning.
Descending hills require a different approach than ascending ones. First, don’t put your acceleration to the max. Second, go lightly on the brakes – unexpected stops or going down the hill too fast are equally dangerous. If you have a newer car, it may be equipped with a “hill descent control” feature that provides a smoother descent from a hill.
Heavy rains are not that rare in Nigeria, which is why you should always be prepared for driving in this kind of weather. Not only is the visibility on the road substantially lower than under normal weather conditions, which can result in missing obstacles, but the road becomes so slippery that it’s hard to keep your balance. So, what should you do when heavy rain strikes?
The most important thing to do is to lower your speed and stick to about 30-40km/h – it’s the optimal speed for avoiding hydroplaning, an occurrence when a slippery barrier forms between the wheels and the road, leading to the loss of control of the vehicle. Another important step is making sure your headlights are always on during driving – they will help other drivers avoid collisions with your car.
It’s not often that a Nigerian driver has to drive through a field of grass, but when he does, the driver will quickly realize that grassy soil is not as pleasant and innocent when it comes to driving through it, especially when the grass and the soil are wet. Slippery segments, holes, and other hazards make grass an exceptionally difficult terrain to drive. Dry grass, on the other hand, is easier to handle, but you still need to take necessary precautions – namely, keep your car on the second or third gear and limit your speed, so that you have enough time to react to unexpected hazards.
Mud might be the most difficult terrain you will ever have to drive. A lot of the difficulty depends on the type of mud – wet, messy mud is not only very hard to drive in, but can also severely damage your vehicle. First of all, if your car is a small sedan or hatchback built for city transportation, driving into a muddy terrain might not be your best idea, as the car may be too light to maneuver in the dirt. Second, when you enter a muddy patch, make sure your windows are closed. Second, never exceed the speed limit of 30kmh – only when you’re driving this slowly, you can avoid spinning your wheels or getting stuck in the mud.
Remember to give your car a proper wash when you reach your destination. It’s especially important to get the mud out of the holes and vents on the inside of your car, particularly its engine. Additionally, cleaning your vehicle of the dried up mud will prevent the rusting process of the car and its parts, which means you’ll save thousands of naira on car service in the future.