The effects of the dry spell and the scorching sun are visibly evident in most parts of the country. While the sun comes with lots of dust and uncontainable heat, it may also be damaging your car, although the effects may not be immediately visible.
One of the motorists who have experienced the wrath of the sun is Herbert Musana. At his workplace, parking under a shade is on “first come first served” basis. Those that come to office late have to park their cars in the open.
“I started seeing a small crack that appeared like a small cut on the car dashboard in January. As time went on, it started widening and spreading slowly but steadily. I applied strong glue on it but it persisted, until I was advised to buy a dashboard cover to use every time I park under the sun,” Musana says.
Evaporating battery water
Eric Amadi, a mechanic at Dalas Auto in Bunga, Kampala, says a battery contains mixed acid and battery distilled water free from metals. When you park your car under the sun, the water levels in your battery reduce due to the evaporation effect.
If you drive the car without checking for water levels, there could be adverse effects.
“You should only top up your battery water with distilled water. If you make a mistake and fill your battery with tap water that is not distilled, your battery will be exposed to light emitting diode (LED) plates that are responsible for keeping electric power moving within the battery and these metals will fail the battery if the water levels are low,” Amadi explains.
Fading car paint
Sometimes parking in the sun is unavoidable, especially if you find yourself in a situation like Musana’s. In the long run, when you continuously park in the hot sun, your car paint is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolent rays regardless of its colour.
“When the ultraviolent rays hit your car, they penetrate through and reach the car body. As a result, your paint starts to fade. If your car is grey or black, the colour starts appearing whitish, especially around the bonnet or roof. It starts as a small patch but widens overtime,” Amadi explains.
Much as your fuel tank is hidden inside the car body, Amadi says too much heat leads to partial evaporation of your fuel. The evaporated fuel may be little but may cause your car to stop when you least expect it.
“If you drive a car that has a dark colour such as black, grey, green and red, its body will absorb a lot of heat. If it is parked in the sun for long or over time, a small percentage of your fuel, especially for petrol engine cars, disappears through evaporation,” Amadi adds.
Like an axe splitting wood, the sun’s rays equally have similar effects on your car’s dashboard. The most affected part of your dashboard is mainly above the steering wheel and the co-driver’s side that are directly exposed to the sun.
“Beneath the leather or wood coating of the dashboard, there is soft material similar to a mattress sponge. When the sun penetrates the leather, it causes the sponge material to expand. When it expands, it inserts pressure on the top leather or wood covering that has already been made soft and hot by the sun and it succumbs to the cracking pressure. The extent of the crack depends on the extent of the crack created in the sponge material underneath the dashboard,” says Isaac Mujjawa, a mechanic at Makindye.
The effect of the sun on your tyres happens mostly when your car is parked, rather than when it is in motion. When it is parked, the tyres do not only absorb heat from the roadside or ground on which the car is parked, but they also absorb direct heat from the sun.
“This heat will increase the pressure in the tyre. When there is accumulated pressure than the tyre was manufactured to absorb, it will eventually burst. This explains why car tyres burst when a car is moving,” Mujjawa explains.
Protect your car
Joseph Kibanza, an auto spa attendant at Metroplex Mall in Naalya, says beyond just having your car washed at a washing bay or auto spa with ordinary detergent soap and a sponge, spend extra money and buy interior and exterior car polish.
“When you apply polish on your car body after washing, it preserves your initial car colour and reduces the effect of the sun’s rays from peeling off your car paint,” Kibanza advises.
Isaac Mujjawa, a mechanic advises that rather than spend more than Shs500,000 to have a total dashboard overhaul, it is better to invest in a silver sun rays insulator that costs approximately Shs50,000 and cover your dashboard whenever you park in the sun. To prevent your car paint from fading, it is equally advisable to invest in a car cover to preserve your car paint or colour. On average, a car cover costs between Shs100,000 and Shs150,000, depending on where you buy it and its thickness.