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The heat wave and your car: know the facts


AS MANY of you have felt, we are in the midst of a serious heat wave across the country, with temperatures up to 10 degrees centigrade above what they should be in some parts of the country. The question is… what can we do in terms of the automotive side of things to stay cool and what implications does the heat wave have for your car?

  • Remember, when your windows are closed your car basically becomes an oven with baking temperatures rising through the cabin. Ensure that you open the windows a bit, let some air in, and also make sure that if there are any small children or pets in the car that they are well hydrated and cool at all times. If your vehicle does not have a sun shade on the side windows try using a towel to shield the child or animal from the sun.
  • Ensure that your vehicle is parked in the shade as leaving it in the sun can not only damage the paint but also make everything in the car insanely hot, such as the steering wheel, gear lever, seats (if they are leather) and seatbelts. It’s not a bad idea to have one of those sun shade items that spread the length of the windscreen in place when you park the car.
  • Your vehicle despises heat! In fact, the cooler the air running into the motor, the better, especially in turbocharged vehicles. So bear in mind that performance may feel a bit sluggish in this heat so take it easy on the car. Abuse can lead to engine or gearbox overheating as the vehicle’s cooling system may just not be able to cope with the excessive heat.
  • Check the vehicle’s cooling system and ensure that the radiator and intercooler (if turbocharged) are functioning correctly.
  • If you own a newer turbocharged car then it will use oil recirculation technology to cool the turbo off and help prevent damage to the turbo itself. However, in older turbocharged cars it is advisable to let the car idle for a minute or so after a drive, to ensure that the turbo has cooled down sufficiently to prevent damage.
  • Check your tyre pressure. In the heat the pressure may expend to higher than the manufacturer recommends, which can lead to premature wear or an increased chance of a blow-out.
  • Keep all your electronics in the car, out of the sun, as when the devices get too hot they often enter a type of ‘limp mode’ and will not work until the device is cooled down.

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