Keeping our cool at 50°C: our guide to summer car maintenance
The mention of summer evokes emotional responses that run the gamut from ecstasy in the frigid climes of the northern European and American continents to sheer dread in the deserts of the Middle East. A Middle Eastern urban idiom says there are only three seasons in the region: hot, hotter, and hell.
If cars had feelings, they would shudder at the thought of temperatures close to 50 degrees C destabilizing their rubber parts, overloading their air-conditioners, overheating engines, and cracking batteries.
The maintenance team at Carlease recognizes the havoc that high temperatures play on vehicles under their care. For them, keeping your rental humming along comfortably and reliably in the summer’s extreme heat boils down (pun intended) to four major mechanisms:
Driver comfort is at the top of the list for Carlease maintenance crews. A vehicle’s air-conditioning unit usually gets a good work-out during hot drives and needs to be maintained in peak condition. From consumables like refrigerant to engineering parts like the compressor, thermostat, filters, and vents, everything gets a deep-dive inspection before a car is deemed human-friendly.
Special attention is paid to the window seals and other components that keep the cooled air inside and the hot air outside, so that the air-conditioning unit does not overload and break down.
Tires, hoses, connectors, belts, window seals, and other parts of the car made from rubber are the most susceptible to high temperatures, which could literally melt them down to mush. Some of these components are highly related to vehicle safety, so they get extra attention during the blazing months of summer.
While the maintenance crew pays special attention to all of these, they also urge drivers of the rental cars to be smart with tire safety. This includes not inflating them beyond the recommended pressure and checking pressure only when the tires are cold. This is because summer heat expands the air inside the tires and a ‘hot’ reading will not be accurate.
Maintenance teams pay special attention to the condition of the battery during the hot season, because extreme heat can cause battery fluid to evaporate, which in turn damages the internal cells, leaving the vehicle susceptible to breakdowns.
Most battery units now come as sealed units, with no need to top up distilled water. Carlease engineers monitor the level of charge available in the battery, and will never release a vehicle that does not meet the extra-grueling standards demanded by Middle Eastern summers.
High temperature could also cause the battery charging system to malfunction. This usually happens because the voltage regulator allows too high a charging rate, which will eventually destroy a battery. The upstream components of the electrical system also get a going-over more often in summer.
Every car engine delivers optimum performance within a band of temperatures – too cold is as disastrous for an engine as too hot. In the Middle East, vehicle maintenance personnel are more concerned with the latter.
This means that the engine cooling system – the thermostat, cooling fan, radiator, and coolant fluid – all need to be operating at peak efficiency. While the maintenance team checks all of these components on an accelerated schedule during the hot months, drivers are urged to do a visual check of coolant levels at regular intervals.
“Never use a coolant that does not have the correct boiling point, and always refill coolant in the reservoir,” says Abbu, a maintenance engineer at Carlease. “If you are checking coolant levels in the radiator, please do not try to open the radiator cap when the engine is hot; this could burn you while allowing the coolant to boil over. If you think coolant is disappearing at a rapid rate, there may be a leak in a rubber hose or seal; contact Carlease maintenance immediately!”
Oil levels also play a key role in keeping the engine humming happily along. The crew pays extra attention to engine and gear-box oil levels in summer, and ensures that all oil filters and delivery systems are in peak condition.
It may be hot enough to fry an egg on the tarmac, but that’s no reason for a Carlease vehicle to be any less of a cool cocoon for its customer.