How to protect your car from the hot weather

Mercury rising, what on earth are we to do?

If you think Singapore is getting hotter, you are absolutely right. Studies have predicted that temperatures are expected to rise with climate change.

For drivers, we often dread getting into our oven of a parked car, especially one that has been baking under the sun without shade or shelter. Greeted by an obligatory blast of hot air, we then proceed to sear our bottoms on the car seats and sauté our hands on the steering wheel. All while basting in our perspiration as we wait for the aircon to work its cool magic.

But enough about us.

We need to ensure that our car is protected from the heat as prolonged exposure can cause some serious damage.

Protecting your car in Singapore’s heat:

Here are some things to note to make sure you and your car stay cool even as temperatures soar.

1. Park under the shade

Of course the first thing you can do is to find parking shelter. Parking spaces in buildings might cost more than street parking but you could save some expenses from having to respray the faded body paint of your sun-damaged car.

2. Protect your car paint

Heat and the UV rays from the sun can cause your car body paint to fade. Like our skin, a car will look prematurely older than it is due to the oxidation. Give your car some care – wash and wax your car to offer an additional layer of protection. It is also cheaper than respraying your car.

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3. Shield your car interior

It’s not just the outside of the car you should worry about. The heat can cause your car upholstery to fade. Depending on the quality of your car finishing, you might start to see cracks or flaking on your dashboard, steering wheel and seats.

It is worth investing in a reflective windscreen sunshade as well as window shades to shield your car interior. You can also cover the exposed metal touchpoints, such as seat belt buckles and child seat harness fittings. This can help prevent your fingers – or that of your children’s – getting hurt when coming into contact with the hot surfaces.

4. Check your coolant

Extremely hot weather means your car’s cooling systems have to work extra hard to stop the engine from overheating.  Once the coolant has degraded over time, you will need to change it. In the same way, exposure to high temperatures will lead to the rubber cooling components deteriorating.  Check for warning signs such as bulges and cracks in your drive belts.

5. Watch your fluid levels

Your vehicle fluids serve to lubricate and dispel heat from critical engine components. As the weather becomes hotter, ensure that the fluids, such as transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid – are all topped up to the appropriate levels.  

6. Maintain the right tyre pressure

Always keep to the tyre pressure recommended by the manufacturer. If your tyres are under- or over-inflated, they will be prone to damage in really hot weather. Heat raises air pressure, which can cause uneven wear on your tyres. Replace them with new tyres for your safety.

7. Replace the car battery if needed

A car battery can last anywhere from 3-7 years but factors such as excessive heat can hasten its deterioration. The fluid in the battery can evaporate quickly, and ultimately damage the car battery.  When this happens, the car battery will have difficulties holding a charge or producing enough power. 

Get your car battery replaced if you see tell-tale signs, such as difficulties starting your engine, windows or door locks not being responsive, or smell a strange odour in your car.

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Here are other important areas to take note of when driving in the heat:

Care for yourself and your passengers

  1. Open your car windows to let the hot air out. Keep the windows open for a couple of minutes as you are driving off to filter out the heat.
  2. Use smart tech. For example, some BMW drivers may be able to start ventilating their cars even before embarking on the drive. A ventilation timer in the MyBMW App allows the ventilation to be set for a specific departure time.
  3. Have plenty of water in the car to keep yourself and your passengers hydrated during the journey.
  4. Sunglasses, sunscreen and long-sleeved tops can cut down the glare and prevent you from getting sunburn if you are driving a long distance.
  5. Never leave children or pets in a stationary car on a hot day even with the windows wound down. The parked car has little airflow and may have a greenhouse effect. This may lead to heatstroke for your kids or fur babies.
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If your car overheats …

You will likely see a warning light or a high alert on the temperature gauge is high. Pull over to the nearest safe zone and call for assistance. DO NOT lift up your car bonnet immediately, as you might be scalded by the steaming hot air being released suddenly. If you want to top up your own coolant, give it at least 15 minutes before trying to do so.

Service regularly

At the end of the day, do not neglect sending your car in for scheduled maintenance and servicing. This can help you weather the weather better.

For time-starved drivers, Performance Motors has introduced after-hours servicing for its BMW customers. You can now book a service appointment from 7pm-9pm, Mondays to Thursdays. What’s more, you can also skip the queues by doing an online check-in and opting for contactless key drop-offs

Contact Sime Darby Motors Singapore for your servicing and maintenance needs for BMW and other brands.

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