Don’t forget to check your car’s oil levels, UAE motorists warned
ABU DHABI // It may seem like common sense, but drivers are being urged to check their cars’ oil levels regularly, because the UAE’s extreme weather conditions can easily cause engine damage and vehicle breakdown.
“People who have moved to the region from climates with less extreme summer temperatures should be aware how critical it is to pay attention to oil levels and coolant in the radiator,” said Glenn Havinoviski, associate vice president of transport systems at the Abu Dhabi traffic-management company Iteris.
“High heat and blowing sand can be problematic without regular maintenance intervals of 15,000km or less.”
Drivers need to be aware of their vehicles’ operating conditions as engine oil in the Gulf region is more likely to oxidise and thicken as a result of the heat, he said.
Car owners tend to focus on the appearance of their vehicles as opposed to what is on the inside, said Amr Adel, regional general manager at Shell’s commercial fuels and lubricants division.
“It is critical that owners pay attention to their engines,” he said. “While your local service station may take care of your engine, it’s important that you are aware of basic requirements such as oil changes.”
Motor oil cleans engines, removes heat and prevents rust. “As a car is driven over longer distances, dirt build-up happens within the engine, causing friction between parts,” Mr Adel said.
Dino Kalivas, chairman of the driver education and training committee at the International Road Federation, said it was critical for drivers to take an interest in vehicle maintenance.
“Given the extreme temperatures in the UAE, people stranded in the heat of the day when their vehicles have failed are at risk of dehydration and ill health,” he said.
“Without a functioning engine, you won’t be able to use your air conditioner either,” Mr Adel said. “Oil keeps an engine clean and free from deposits, and can help ensure longer engine life and reduce the risk of breakdowns that could lead to hefty maintenance costs.”
Those who use their cars over shorter distances or in heavy traffic face an increased risk of a breakdown since their engine rarely gets a chance to reach its optimum operating temperature.
“Driving in such conditions also leads to sludge and dirt build-up, which can adversely impact the engine,” Mr Adel said.
On the road-safety front, drivers should prioritise making sure the vehicles they use are well maintained, Mr Kalivas said.
“It is important to have the correct type and amount of engine and transmission oils and water in the cooling system. Motorists should be familiar with a vehicle’s basic operating systems including warning lights and how to locate and safely check oil, cooling and braking systems.”
Mr Adel said that overfilling the crankcase with oil could cause excessive heat and shorten the oil’s life.
“A lot of oil will be splashed into the cylinders and cause excessive oil burning,” he said. “Apart from maintaining correct motor oil levels, owners should get their oil changed regularly as recommended by their vehicle manual.”
Drivers also need to understand that if their car is losing power while on the motorway, they need to put the flashers on and coast safely to a location on the hard shoulder, Mr Havinoviski said.
Updated: September 6, 2014 04:00 AM