Every year UAE residents are urged to make sure they take the necessary steps to keep their cars safe from the scorching summer heat.
Experts say failure to keep an eye on the potential effects ofthe heat on a vehicle could have serious consequences.
From the prolonged exposure to UV rays causing leather to crack and dashboard buttons to melt, to batteries failing – there are many pitfalls for car owners to avoid.
Reduce sun exposure
The most obvious way to prevent your car suffering any heat damage is to limit exposure.
“The best thing you can do is keep it out of direct sunlight as much as you can,” said Ryan Hughes, chief executive of Dubai firm RMA Motors.
“Parking the car in the sun is only going to cause problems. Keep it parked in the shade or parked underground.
“If you can, I would recommend keeping it under a car cover as well.”
Failure to keep your vehicle covered up could have a long-term impact on its interior.
“If a car’s been exposed to the sun for a few years then the interior leather could start to crack and the buttons could even melt and become sticky,” said Mr Hughes.
One way to reduce the impact of the searing sun is to invest in window tints, said Mr Hughes.
“This is a film that you put over the windscreen. It reduces the impact of the heat and UV rays,” he said.
“I would advise against just buying the cheapest ones on the market as their quality won’t be the same. You should be able to get a quality tint for around Dh1,000.
“Don’t think you will be getting a good deal if you pick up a set for around Dh300 or Dh400 because it’s most likely all they are doing is making your windscreen darker, without offering actual protection.”
Maintaining the car
Regular maintenance of your vehicle is also crucial in the unforgiving summer sun, warned another expert.
“The cars are most under pressure in the summer in the Middle East,” said Adam Withnall, chief executive of car comparison company Drive Ninja.
“That’s when things are likely to break from stress. It’s crucial you ensure the engine and AC system have been serviced properly going into the summer.”
Correct tyre pressure
Ensuring tyre pressure is correct is vital throughout the year, but especially in the summer, added Mr Withnall.
“Properly inflated tyres help save on fuel costs and also means they wear down more slowly, again reducing costs,” he said.
“Tyre pressure can fluctuate in extreme heat so, again, it’s important to keep an eye on that.”
Another issue for summer driving in the Middle East is the possibility of dust storms, he added.
“You need to make sure your window wipers are up to standard because the dust that gathers can reduce visibility,” he said.
“Most garages can change your wipers in a matter of minutes at a fairly low cost.
“You should also ensure the washer reservoir is topped up to keep the windscreen clean at all times.”
Can my car catch fire from just the summer heat?
Any suggestion that a car can go up in flames just from being out in the heat for a prolonged period of time is incorrect, said Mr Withnall.
“It would make global news headlines if cars were spontaneously combusting in this heat,” he said.
“I think it's easy for us to think we're unique in suffering the crazy summer heat in this region, but it gets just as hot in other parts of the world.
“Car manufacturers make sure their vehicles can handle the heat or else they would be exposed to expensive legal action.”
Leaking fuel systems, faulty or damaged wiring, spilt fluids and underperforming exhaust systems are just some of the avoidable causes of such blazes.
The summer heat can play a part in car fires, as well as the effects of the desert climate, but regular maintenance is key to avoiding problems.
Top tips on keeping your car safe this summer
- Buy window tints – they will protect your car's interior from being damaged by the heat and reduce the impact of UV rays
- Keep the car serviced – regular maintenance will ensure the air conditioning is working properly
- Check the tyre pressure – the wrong pressure can result in using more fuel than necessary
- Keep the car in the shade – this is crucial to prevent damage to the interior and exterior of your car
- Seeing clearly – it is vital your wipers are working properly to help reduce the impact of dust on the windscreen. Keeping water levels topped up is also important
- Keep a bottle of water in your car – You might need this in the unfortunate event that you break down. The last thing you want is to be dehydrated while waiting for assistance inside a hot car
- Cover up the car and dashboard – A cover over the car will help to reduce harm from the sun and heat. Keeping the dashboard covered will also stop the interior feeling so hot when you start driving.
A version of this story was first published on July 20, 2022.