Taking Care Of Your Vehicle This Dry Season

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We welcome ourselves to another dry season (harmattan) in our part of Africa. There’s always been a lot of advice on the special conditions and precautions of motoring in the rainy season. There’s much less information during the dry season, but don’t worry there is less precautions in the so called dry season. But if we can recognize that dry also means dusty then we can understand THE DAMAGES AND DANGERS to think of concerning our vehicles.

To put that into perspective a vehicle used in very dusty conditions needs to be serviced at least twice as often as a vehicle in the wet conditions. Dust is not only tiny particles of earth, but it is any material in a finely powdered form reduced too small enough to be   blown about. Some dust are visible whiles others are not but all of it has an effect on your car. In six ways I have identified how you can take care of your car this dry season

  • Air filter: car engines ingest huge volumes of air which aid in combustion (burning) in each cylinder bore. If the air is not properly filtered, the particles of dirt pollute the air-fuel mixture and reduce combustion efficiency. The dirt degrade lubricating oil, clog carburetor jets (in older engines), the larger dirt particles increases engine wear by acting like sandpaper inside the engine. Whiles the air- filter stop the dirt, they must allow free passage of clean air or else the engine will run too rich (technical knowledge is required), reducing power, increasing fuel consumption and increasing wear rich- fuel mixture dissolves the film of lubrication on the cylinder walls.
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These factors are serious all the time but are obviously most crucial in thoroughly dusty conditions. Filters needs to be cleaned and replaced even if you drive entirely on tarmac roads. The most common type of filter is the paper element. The effective life of this part can sometimes be extended slightly by blowing dust out of the fibers with a gentle stream of air and very, very gentle tapping. But they should never be cleaned with direct blast of high pressured air or taping vigorously. These actions tear the microscopic fibers and even if the paper looks clean it will allow larger particles of dirt through and will no longer do its job properly.

Do not underestimate the damage that can be done by even a small (invisible) tear in the filter element

  • Engine oil: even if your air filter element is of the highest quality and in good condition, it is not perfect. Some very fine particles will still get through. These particles will be so small that they do no immediate damage, they are burned off in the combustion process. The burning off process might stop the dirt acting like grains of sandpaper but it leaves a residue which pollutes the engine oil and reduces lubrication efficiency.in dusty conditions engine oil should be therefore be changed regularly twice as often
  • Greased parts: grease does not only prevents squeaks and rust, it reduces wear between moving parts. Grease and dirt mixed together act like a grinding paste scouring the parts. Grease is supposed to protect, so it is important to completely pump out or wipe away old grease and replenish with new as a regular service item.in rough and dusty conditions it is important to check these rubber envelopes called “boot” regularly to ensure there are no cuts or cracks in them. Damaged boots must be replaced without delay, or major and expensive parts of the car will be quickly destroyed beyond repair. There are other numerous grease points on every car -the hinges and latches on doors, bonnet and boot, window winding ratchet and runners, handbrake ratchet, linkages on pedal levers, seat adjustment slides etc.
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In dusty conditions it is particularly important to wipe these clean and replenish with fresh grease on regular basis. Everything will work better and last longer.

  • Paintwork: dust per say does no harm to paint work, the damage is done when dust is wiped away without sufficient water. Dust should be flushed off the paint with copious amount of water before wiping. The first wiping phase should also involve a lot of water to prevent the particles of dust acting like sandpaper, creating minute scratches that will dull the finish paint.
  • Body traps: any part of a car where the metal panels are folded over creating a pocket or double skin effect is a potential dust trap.
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To prevent this, it is a good idea to use high pressure air vacuum cleaner to regularly remove dust from body traps especially just before the rains.

  • Interior: the last main way dust damages a car is by getting into the interior- the seats ,fabrics and carpets.it does no direct harm, but for the sake of appearance and preventing occupants clothes being dirtied. However sweeping does not remove embedded dust. If the dust are left it will soon or later become damped and either stain, discolor or generally degrade the appearance of the seats, door trim, carpets etc. The interior should be vacuumed thoroughly and regularly, even if it doesn’t actually look dirty.

Apart from the direct impact dust has on the motor vehicle, it also has  two other big effects on driving techniques on very dusty roads and on people who walk or live next to dusty roads. So this dry season(harmattan) keep all hands on deck to regularly check your car although it might have little effect on your wallet it is a great deal to keep your car in good condition making it safe and reliable at all times.

The Automotive consultant
T.Eng H.A.Spanner

The Automotive consultant
T.Eng H.A.Spanner
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