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High temperatures and vehicles

Warm climate or heat waves can cause problems for cars. Engines overheat and asphalt becomes slippery, but this can be managed

Man looking at a smoking engine in his carThe Royal Automobile Club of Spain (RACE) has had a sharp increase in heat-related incidents this year. Their road assistance have been handling 41,086 incidents this summer, an increase of 49.6 percent compared with the same period last year.

Although tires and batteries account for the majority, the number of overheated engines has increased tremendously. Usually these incidents are caused by lack of maintenance and neglect of the measures to be taken when it becomes extremely warm. RACE especially stresses the importance of checking the coolant and oil before driving in hot weather and that you stop as fast as possible in a safe place if the engine overheats.

If the car engine overheats it is often a sign that something is wrong, and that the car should be examined at a garage. But if you are out there in the middel of a traffic jam, and the temperature gets too high, there are a few simple things you can do to try to avoid an immediate breakdown. Turn off the AC as the compressor takes a lot of power from the engine. And some old tried and well tested tricks – putting the vehicle’s hot air at full speed, to thereby cooling the coolant through the ventilation duct lens radiator. It may help temporarily to lower the engine temperature slightly, but does not help the cause of the error. Remember that these measures should be seen as pure emergency solutions. Driving around like this is never recommended except for traveling to the garage.

For those who live here in the heat there are some climate-related things you should consider. Always use coolant. Never fill (except in pure emergency) water. The water here in Spain contains both calcium and iron so that it quickly becomes clogged in the cooling system if you use tap water. Never install something that prevents cooling in front of the radiator, eg extra lights. Also check if the cooling fan is actually working. If you have batteries that are not maintenance-free check the electrolyte, it can quickly get reduced in the heat.

The tires could also be a problem here in Spain; as it is important to have the proper air pressure. Low tire pressure increases heat dissipation unnecessarily, leading to increased tire wear and also draws more fuel. Too high pressure gives wears down the tires and can in extreme cases lead to tire explosion. The sun and the heat is not good for the rubber compound in the tires so that they age faster than what happens in a cold climate. This means that they get hard and have less grip on the road. Thus old tire are a traffic hazard even if the tread depth is still good.

Finally, I should mention the asphalt. It is not as sensitive to heat here as it is in UK . But if it gets hot enough the asphalt begins to bleed and becomes smooth. Worse still, after rain – then it is often more slippery than ice. The only thing that helps in this case is to slow down, or in the event that the first rains falls sincer the summer heat – wait 30 minutes before driving.

Bleeding asphalt becomes icy and is particularly dangerous for two-wheelers.

Bleeding asphalt becomes icy and is particularly dangerous for two-wheelers.