Residents of the UAE are lucky enough to have sunshine almost all year round, but as the heat rises, roads across the country can become hazardous for motorists.
During the summer months, it is even more important to take care of your car to make sure it is safe to drive, whether for long or short journeys.
Some of the most common problems people face in hot weather include flat batteries, tyre blowouts and problems with air-conditioning.
Thomas Edelmann, managing director of Road Safety UAE, said while the heat can be taxing on vehicles, it can also take its toll on motorists, pedestrians and motorcycle riders.
“The hot summer months are typically affiliated with high temperatures, high humidity and the occasional fog and sandstorms,” he said.
“The performance and reaction of our bodies can be different to normal and we need to be mindful of that.”
At EBC Express Auto Services in Dubai, many customers tend to have similar problems with their cars.
James Greenwood, general manager, said tyres tend to cause the most problems at this time of year.
If they are not maintained correctly, he said, it can be very dangerous, especially when driving on busy highways.
“Tyre blowouts brought on by the heat are something we see a lot of in our garage. Unsafe puncture repairs are the number one cause of blowouts for us,” he said.
“A tyre that is either worn, has sidewall damage or has previously undergone unsafe puncture repairs is more prone to blowouts, so make sure they are checked by a professional if you have any doubts.
“It is also important to check your tyre pressure at least twice a month. Check your car manual for the recommended reading for your vehicle.”
The National has compiled a list of some of the most important things to keep an eye on to protect yourself and your car in the sweltering heat.
Safe summer driving tips
Tyres – High temperatures can become a serious problem for tyres, especially if they are not properly maintained. Incorrect inflation pressure and poor wheel balance and alignment also reduce tyre life and safety.
Only use reputable branded and certified tyres. Avoid fitting ones that may be substandard and therefore potentially unsafe.
Tyres need to be checked regularly by a professional, especially if you have any doubts. If possible, check your tyre pressure at least once a month.
Avoid driving at lower pressure than that recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. This could lead to premature wear, and is likely to adversely affect vehicle handling.
Over-inflating your tyres can cause them to blow out when the heat causes them to expand, which puts extra pressure on them. Check your car manual for the right pressure for your vehicle and if possible, inflate them at the start of a journey, when your tyres are cold.
Motorists found flouting rules on driving with worn or damaged tyres will be fined Dh500 ($136) and have four black points put on their driving licences. Their vehicle will also be impounded for a week.
Air conditioning – Make sure your air conditioning works perfectly. Mr Greenwood said most manufacturers will recommend having the system serviced every two years.
It is extremely important to ensure you have the correct amount of gas and oil in the air-conditioning system to avoid breakdown and costly repairs.
Liquids – Coolant, oil and washer fluid should be checked regularly to ensure they are at the right levels.
“One of the most important things to do as a car owner is to make sure you regularly service your vehicle,” said Mr Greenwood.
“Oil is the blood of your engine and if it is old it will not be able to protect the engine components.
“Always use a well-recognised brand of oil and the correct grade to ensure your car runs smoothly for years to come. I can’t stress this enough.”
Battery – Hot weather means high temperatures under the hood, which accelerates corrosion of the battery. It can also cause water to evaporate out of the battery's liquid electrolyte.
Decreased battery capacity can lead to a weakened ability to start an engine and, ultimately, shorter battery life.
Most garages in Dubai will perform a free, or cheap, test to make sure your battery will beat the heat.
For the driver:
- Watch out for debris on the roads, especially tyre debris;
- If you are travelling with passengers, keep spare face masks in your car. Sweat can make wearing a mask uncomfortable, which can be distracting when in control of a vehicle;
- Be careful not to leave hand sanitiser in the car. Hot temperatures can cause the bottles to leak, so they should be kept upright and properly sealed. If you can, carry them with you when exiting the vehicle;
- Make sure you have water with you, especially on long drives. It is important to stay hydrated because dehydration can affect vision and concentration;
- Consider investing in proper sunglasses to maintain better vision in the glaring sunlight.
- Park in shaded areas to avoid wear and tear from heat and direct sunlight;
- Use sun shields to protect the interior, especially the dashboard and steering wheel;
Consider opening your windows just a tiny bit when parking in hot conditions. A bit of ventilation can lower the temperature inside your vehicle.