It’s so easy for the engine to collapse in the heat
A perplexed look into the engine compartment: Particularly on particularly hot days, special attention should be paid to the engine when stop-and-go drives
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While flat tires and boiling coolers were among the breakdown classics of fully packed holiday vehicles 20 years ago, they are now left with electronic damage caused by heat. Heat helps against this.
W.hen it gets extremely hot on Germany’s roads, as it is now, the ADAC reports the battery as the number one cause of the breakdown. Then punctures follow. Operations due to defective cooling systems take third place in the heat damage ranking. Their share increased by more than 50 percent compared to 2009. Damage to the cooling system often occurs because hose connectors or the cooling container are leaking. Fluid can also be lost through a dilapidated water pump.
Vehicle electronics are the biggest weak point. Thanks to ABS, ESP, airbags, engine management and an increasing number of driver assistance systems, modern cars are crammed with electronic components. Although they are designed in such a way that they function without any problems in a temperature range between minus 40 and plus 85 degrees, they can still get into a critical phase at summer temperatures of around 35 degrees.
While the driver and passengers sit unsuspecting in the air-conditioned interior, a danger simmers under the hood. "If the engine is left idle for a long time in the blazing sun, it can get up to 100 degrees in the engine compartment," says Eberhard Lang, an expert at TuV Sud.
At such temperatures, for example, the circuit boards on which the electronic components are seated can develop hairline cracks due to the heat-induced expansion and the subsequent cooling from the airstream. This does not necessarily have to lead to the collapse of some systems immediately, but such previous damage can abruptly end the vacation trip days or weeks later, preferably if the car is stuck in a traffic jam for a long time in the sweltering heat with the air conditioning running.
A warning is given of the consequential damage
Because the waste heat from the engine pushes the temperatures generated by the solar radiation even higher, Lang advises switching off the engine, even if the occupants are getting too warm.
If there is an electronic defect, control lamps usually light up in the cockpit, for example for ESP or engine control. The engine is often still running in the emergency program so that you can reach the next rest area and call the breakdown service. In any case, you shouldn’t ignore the warning lights but go to a workshop immediately, recommends the expert: "If you simply drive on with defective electronics, you run the risk of serious consequential damage."
Even the interior of a vehicle in the blazing sun can heat up to 80 degrees. If at all possible, you should therefore look for a shady parking lot (which the ridiculed shadow parkers always did). The misappropriation of the cover mat, which is actually intended for ice-free windshields, is also quite helpful because it reflects the sunlight. "Even an ordinary box does a good job and can lower the interior temperature by up to 25 degrees," says Lang.
Because there is no airflow for additional cooling and higher speeds for the fast oil circuit. If the cooling circuit does not work properly, the water starts to boil. The water thermometer display rises into the red area and there is a risk of engine damage.
In order to avoid the engine‘s heat death, the heater should therefore be set to the highest temperature when idling and turned up to the full. This is the quickest way to dissipate the engine heat and protect the engine from major damage. When the windows are open, the heat is quickly drawn away from the interior.
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