South African summer can be tough on cars. Battery problems, scorching hot steering wheels and dashboard damage are all realities you need to be aware of. Here’s how to keep everything in tip top shape as the temperatures soar and, in some areas, the rain and hail appear with a vengeance.
Check the battery
Heat can cause the battery fluid to evaporate, which can cause damage to your battery and eventually destroy it completely. When summer comes around, it’s recommended that you make a short visit to a battery centre to check everything is working ok and charging at the correct rate. If you do notice any signs of battery failure such as dimming lights or problems locking or unlocking your car, get the battery checked ASAP.
Protect your dashboard
The dashboard of your car can fade, dry and crack under severe heat, and so can leather interiors. In order to reduce the chance of this happening, buy yourself a reflective car windscreen shield and always use it when parking outside. Remember to put the reflective silver section facing outwards, away from the dashboard. This small cost will save you a lot of expense and discomfort over the course of the summer, so is well worth investing in.
Take good care of your windscreen
If you do suffer a chip or crack on your windscreen, it is important to try and avoid parking in the sun. The extreme heat can make matters much worse, and what was a small chip could spread quickly, necessitating a windscreen replacement. While windscreen glass installation is fairly quick and easy these days, it is certainly much easier to fix a small chip than a large crack – so remember to check your windscreen regularly, especially if you’re driving over gravel roads or your car is exposed to extreme temperature variations, which we all know can be a reality for parts of South Africa in summer!
Scorching hot steering wheel?
Before you get out of the car, turn the wheel a quick 180. That way, the area where your hands sit on the wheel will have been in the shade while it’s parked. Otherwise, a windscreen guard will serve a similar purpose, and will also prevent your seats from getting too hot if you’re lucky enough to have a leather interior in your car.
Check out the aircon
If you have an older car, this is even more important. In the midst of South African summer, aircon isn’t a luxury…it’s a necessity. An aircon that cuts out quickly becomes a problem in summer. Also remember to get your aircon filters checked, as they can get dirty and mouldy very quickly due to the condensation. If your car has a funny smell come summer, it’s a good indication that you should clean or replace the filters.
Change your coolant
The cooling system goes into overdrive during the summer months, as the car has to work hard to keep the engine from overheating. As a general rule of thumb, you should change the coolant every year anyway – so why not do it just before summer?
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