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How the heat can affect your vehicle 

For those of us who come from “cold” countries like the UK, Germany, Norway, Sweden etc. we are all well aware of the problems that the cold, rain, frost and snow pose to our vehicles but have you ever considered that the hot climates can also cause problems with your car, some of which will surprise and maybe even shock you. In this issue we are going to point out some of the things that excessive heat can cause to your car and or to your driving itself.

The fact that Tenerife has an almost all year round warm climate we tend to take that for granted but when summer comes and the temperature soar, cars can suffer too. The most vulnerable parts of a car to be affected by high temperatures are your tyres, brakes and the shock absorbers. All these items are crucial to enable the vehicle to keep moving, to keep it under safe control and of course enable it to stop safely.

If you drive with your tyres at low pressure you are more likely to have a tyre blowout and the increase of a blowout goes up by approximately 60% in high temperature and it will also shorten the length of the life of your tyres. It is also probable that you would notice an increase in your fuel consumption. When the external heat is intense such as in late June through to September and sometimes at other times of the year an engine can lose up to 15% of its power and possibly even more as it drives the cooling and air conditioning unit, when fitted and used.

Overheating of brakes can also cause a big problem, anyone who watches or has an interest in Formula 1 or motorsports will know that this can increase your consumption of brake fluid and may cause a phenomenon commonly known as “fading”, which reduces the vehicles ability to slow down or in some cases failing to stop at all until a crash occurs.

We must all therefore be aware that all these factors are important for the safety of the driver, other drivers and passengers. It is imperative then that you check, or ask your mechanic or garage to check your tyres, shock absorbers, oil, brake, coolant levels and battery on a regular basis. If you are intending going on a long journey all lights and air conditioning should also be checked. As we have said many people will have a service done in the winter but do not take account of summer temperatures which can cause problems that could be identified at a service in the summer too.

Of course most cars these days are fitted with air conditioning as standard and a regular problem in summer months is the failure of this or the age old saying, “my air conditioning is not cold”. Many people do not use the air conditioning during winter months and as the unit lays dormant it can fail over time without being noticed by the driver. Often though you may notice an unpleasant smell and this sometimes is due to the failure of the air conditioning. We recommend that you have it checked at least once a year and make sure the air conditioning is used in the car at least once a month. When your air conditioning is working too hard it will likely be putting a mechanical strain on the vehicle. Air conditioning set for an interior temperature of 20 degrees will increase fuel consumption by up to 20% on average.

On a final note if you are going on a long journey make sure that your car is loaded properly and safely, do not exceed your permitted load level and distribute your load as evenly as possible. Once loaded CHECK YOUR TYRES!