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Looking after the engine

Five top tips to keep the engine cool on a summer road trip

DUBAI, July 21, 2022

In warm weather, engine temperatures can rocket from their normal range of 75 to 105°C to as high as 130°C (266°F), says Fausto Lupone, Automotive Sector Expert at Petronas Lubricants International.
 
So, it’s no surprise that overheating can occur, causing mid-journey driving issues and potentially expensive or even irreparable damage. 
 
To avoid these difficulties, it’s firstly important to be able to spot the signs. Hints that one’s engine is overheating include burning smells, thumping noises, a temperature gauge in the red zone, and an excessively hot bonnet/hood. 
 
But what can one do to deal with these warnings once they present themselves? And how can one prevent them from occurring at all, so one’s summer road trips are as stress-free and pleasant as possible? 
 
Carry out a coolant flush 
Over time, everyday dirt and debris from the road can build up and block one’s engine’s cooling system, preventing it from managing internal temperatures. A coolant flush drains these contaminants from the engine, making it a crucial procedure for maintaining a healthy vehicle and avoiding radiator clogs, engine corrosion, leaks, thermostat damage, and water pump issues. 
 
The car or motorbike manufacturer’s manual should offer specialist advice on when and how to do a coolant flush for the model. But as a rule, one should try to carry out a flush every two years or every 40,000 miles—whichever comes first. 
 
Regular coolant flushing should help one’s radiator regulate engine temperatures and nip overheating in the bud. However, one can’t always be this prepared or proactive. So, what should one do facing an overheating vehicle mid-journey? 
 
 
Turn off the air and switch on the heat (cars only)
It sounds crazy, but it’s true: to cool the car’s engine, one may need to pump warm air into the passenger compartments. 
 
This process begins by turning off the air conditioning. It may feel a little more uncomfortable, especially when driving in the summer heat, but using the AC puts extra strain on the engine and harms its ability to cool. 
 
In turn, switching on the heating and blowers actually transfers heat away from the engine. It also opens up the heater core, a smaller version of the radiator that sits towards the front of one’s car, giving the engine the chance to draw in fresher, cooler air and operate at a safer temperature. 
 
Rev the engine or pull over
If the journey involves regular stops and starts due to traffic or stoplights, it’s a good idea to rev one’s engine while stationary. Revving helps to pump water through the radiator and speed up the fan (if controlled by the engine), cooling internal temperatures. 
 
But once one begins slowly moving again, try to avoid riding the brakes—brake drag further increases the load on the engine. Instead, let a larger gap open up between one’s vehicle and the vehicle in front before one moves forward.
 
If none of these steps help, and the engine temperature is climbing out of control, pull over to the side of the road. Then, open one’s car or motorbike’s hood or bonnet to let heat directly escape out of the engine bay. 
 
However, under no circumstances should one then touch any internal components, particularly the engine or radiator. A vehicle’s water and coolant mix is pressurised when hot, and opening the radiator cap can cause the coolant to spray out and cause serious skin burns. If one must open it, wait until the engine has completely cooled. 
 
Call a garage or mechanic
While these tips and quick fixes can make a difference, when overheating persists the engine may be suffering from a deeper problem that requires specialist help. 
 
If one spots the engine gauge spending most of its time in the red zone, pull over and call a mechanic. One can use trusted international workshop locator tools to find the nearest engine repair and service expert, even if one is far from home.  
 
Then, depending on the vehicle’s condition, drive to the workshop or request a tow truck to protect the engine from any further damage. The mechanic will be able to diagnose the issue and hopefully get one back on the road ASAP. And they should be able to advise one on preventative oil measures, too.
 
 
Choose a quality engine oil
Modern engines operate at higher temperatures and with more moving parts than ever before. To function properly, these moving parts need to be lubricated to reduce friction, while dissipating heat to protect the engine’s performance. 
 
A high-quality engine oil for both cars and motorcycles can help to fight excessive engine temperature by regulating and absorbing heat, defending critical components from damage, and reducing fuel consumption. This is particularly important during summer—engines require a thicker, heavier-weight oil during the warmer months as heat can thin the oil out. 
 
Fortunately, multi-viscosity oils can adapt to year-round temperatures by flowing well in the winter, and then thickening up and protecting in the summer. For instance, a 10W40 oil has a viscosity grade of 10 in lower temperatures and 40 in higher ones. 
 
Remember to choose the correct oil and viscosity for the model to avoid further vehicle issues. Before one buys, use tools such as a lubricant recommender to find a product that keeps the engine safe and running smoothly. 
 
Stay cool throughout the summer
Ultimately, the engine is the heart of the vehicle. So, just like when one runs, one must treat it with great care and attention. Regular overheating can limit its lifespan and major repairs can even exceed its entire value, resulting in an insurance write-off. 
 
As the famous saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’. While one might not expect the engine to overheat, and feel one can fix it even if it does, this may not always be the case. 
 
Instead, it’s best to carry out regular coolant flushes and invest in high-quality engine oils, regardless of how well the engine seems to be running. It might just save one stacks of time and cash—and help keep the big summer road trip as pleasant as one had planned.-- TradeArabia News Service
 



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