Since a battery is akin to the heart of a vehicle, regular check-ups are essential. Corrosion build-up on its terminals should not be neglected as it can interfere with the electrical circuit Image Credit: Corbis

Well she got her daddy’s car... And she cruised through the hamburger stand now... And with the radio blasting... Goes cruising just as fast as she can…

Or so sang The Beach Boys in their hit single Fun, fun, fun. Whether you are driving your daddy’s car on Shaikh Zayed Road or negotiating the mountain roads of Al Ain in your own car, safety should be your prime consideration while behind the wheels.

With temperatures soaring fast, avoid any sudden vehicle breakdown in the middle of a busy highway by taking routine care of your car. According to experts, you must get your car serviced at regular intervals in addition to  conducting periodic checks under the bonnet.

Minding tyres

A few simple checks on the tyres will not only give you better fuel economy but also help keep your car in good working condition. “As heat is the biggest enemy of a tyre, it is important to ensure that our tyres don’t overheat in operation,” says John Michael, Assistant General Manager of Bridgestone tyres-Nasser Bin Abdullatif Alserkal Establishment. “And considering the unforgivingly high ambient and road temperatures during summers in the UAE, we recommend all vehicle users to take extra precaution.”

Maintaining proper tyre pressure is important to avoid any possibility of a flat tyre or blowout in the middle of a journey. Under-inflation creates stress on tyres and causes uneven tread wear. Check inflation pressure of the spare tyre regularly as well.

Always inflate your car tyres at cold pressures. The car should not be driven for more than 3km before a pressure check. If it has been driven for a longer distance, then the tyres need to rest for at least three hours to return to ambient temperatures. “Top up inflation pressures at least once a month and also before setting off for any long drives,” Michael says.

Switch to nitrogen from normal air inflation to ensure cooler running of the vehicle, suggests Rajesh Puthonveedu, Product Manager, Tyres and Batteries Department, Juma Al Majid Group. Nitrogen inflation also helps maintain better air pressure in tyres for a longer period.

It is crucial to replace tyres if they are worn out or show any signs of damage. “Change any tyres that have aged beyond five years and have had punctures repaired using the string method,” Michael says.

Always replace tyres in matched pairs or complete sets as unmatched patterns or specifications can affect the tyre life and performance. Installing tyres from different sets on the left and right sides can disturb the overall balance of a vehicle.

Check and adjust  wheel alignment every 10,000km to ensure even wearing. Carrying out regular rotation of tyres following instructions in the owner’s manual or recommendations by professionals is also a must to ensure car safety, Michael advises.

Develop good driving habits to make the most of your tyres. Avoid speeding or overloading your car to prevent excess
tread wear.

Battery care

As long as we are able to crank the engine of our car, switch on the lights and turn on the air conditioner, we mostly prefer not to pay much attention to its batteries. Automotive batteries are the source of a car’s electrical energy and one of the most critical components of a vehicle’s operating system. Batteries also need regular maintenance just like other parts of our car. They normally fail either due to poor maintenance or age, often leaving the car and its occupants stranded.

Maintenance of automotive batteries is quite hassle-free, inexpensive and can be done really fast. There are two types of batteries currently available in the market: normal batteries require periodic inspections and topping up  of electrolyte levels, whereas maintenance-free batteries don’t require topping up.

Extreme summer heat takes a toll on the battery’s life, points out Raghavendra Sanga, Business and Technical Insights Manager at Zafco, a leading tyre brand. High temperatures lead to quicker evaporation of electrolytes in the battery. This, along with continuous usage of the air conditioner, puts an additional strain on the battery. Try to replace batteries every other summer.

Corrosion build-up on the battery terminals is a common phenomenon and there are chances of it interfering with the electrical system, which may also lead to battery replacements, warns Sanga. To avoid this, keep the terminals properly lubricated and clean. You can use a stiff brush to remove corrosion from the terminal.

The life of a car battery largely depends on climatic conditions, the electrical system, load on the battery and driving habits. “A simple voltmeter or a battery tester can indicate the status of your battery. You can also get the battery tested whenever your car is scheduled for a routine service. Some of the batteries come fitted with indicators that give an idea about the health of the batteries,” Sanga says. As soon as the engine feels sluggish, have the battery professionally checked.

Always use distilled water to enhance the service life of low-maintenance batteries and maintain electrolytes at
the specified level.