By Nthabiseng Moloi, MiWay Insurance, Head of Marketing & Brand

While the arrival of warmer weather is welcomed by many, the scorching power of the South African sun tends to take its toll on our cars, many of which are left to bake outside as the mercury inches ever higher.

In much the same way that sun exposure can adversely affect our skins, the same holds true for vehicles, which tend to bear the brunt of the summer heat, which can cause bleaching and upholstery damage, as well as corrosion of batteries.

If underground parking is not an option and your garage has been converted into a makeshift storeroom, how do you beat the heat?

Here are a few easy ways to keep you and your car cooler this summer:

Wear shades

Car visors block a lot of the sun’s direct heat, mitigating the impact of high temperatures and enabling the car to cool down faster once the engine is started. While it is customary to use these on the front dashboard, using them as a sun shield on your back window can further reduce the heating effect of the sun.

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Pick your interiors wisely

Leather seats can heat up extremely quickly under the sun’s direct scrutiny and have even been known to cause burns in some instances. Upholstered seats are less prone to overheating.

If you can’t bear to compromise on the comfort of leather, consider using seat covers during the summer months to prevent unnecessary scorching.

Make the most of your aircon

Getting into a car that has been left baking in the sun is never a pleasant experience and it often feels like an eternity before the trusty old aircon kicks into gear.

To speed up the cooling process, engage your air conditioning at full power for 20 seconds or so, while lowering your back windows slightly. This helps to push out hot air more rapidly and should see you back in the comfort of climate control in under a minute.

To speed up the cooling process, engage your air conditioning at full power for 20 seconds or so, while lowering your back windows slightly

Check your battery

Extreme heat can cause battery fluid to evaporate rapidly, resulting in damage to its internal structure and expediting the speed of corrosion. As such, it is important that you check yours regularly, making sure that the plates in each cell remain covered by the fluid inside.

However, it is also important not to overfill your battery, as this can result in expansion and overflow. It is also vital that you check for corrosion and swelling at regular intervals, removing any visible oxidised material with a scouring pad or brass brush.

If you are unfamiliar with how your battery works, you can ask your petrol attendant to assist you at your next fuel stop.

Read more: Looking for a new car? Take your pick from the 2019 Car of the Year shortlist

Stay hydrated

High temperatures can cause coolant, oil and transmission liquid levels to drop more rapidly than they might do in winter, so make sure to keep tabs on these at regular intervals, as evaporation can cause overheating and significant long-term damage to your car.

Remember that the best way to prevent sun damage is to keep your car out of harm’s way, so choose shaded or undercover spots to park wherever possible.

Should your garage be out of commission or clogged up with unwanted items, now is as good a time as any for a spring clean.

Read this next: Why should I spring clean?

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970).