Tips for Dubai car-owners to beat the heat and rising fuel prices

Here's how to overcome challenges that come with the rise in temperatures and fuel costs

By George Kuruvilla

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Published: Thu 21 Jul 2022, 5:58 PM

Last updated: Thu 21 Jul 2022, 5:59 PM

The summer of 2022 is going to be a memorable one, simply because the heat is hitting us in two ways — one is the effect of the scorching summer sun, which makes car travel uncomfortable and the second is the recent rise in fuel costs, which is burning holes in our pockets. To negotiate these challenging months, we have come up with a short list of reminders to help you in your everyday car journeys.

We begin with ways to beat the heat from a comfort point of view...

Window tint

Tinting is an easy way to keep cabins cool. As standard, most vehicles come with windows that are tinted from the factory, some as high as 30 per cent. In addition, you can get a professional workshop or tinting company to carefully stick film on your windows, for as low as a few hundred dirhams to as high as a few thousands depending on the brand and grade. That being said, there are two things you must remember with regards to tinting; one is that the RTA has raised the limit from 30 per cent to 50 per cent and the other is not to confuse heat and light transmission when considering what film to purchase. Getting a darker tint will certainly reduce visibility but may not necessarily block heat as much. You get the drift!

Remote starter

The remote starter is a great little invention. Left your car out in the sun too long? No worries! Step out onto your balcony for a moment and click a button on your key fob in a certain sequence and get the car started from a distance. This, in turn, will get the A/C started and by the time you get to your vehicle, it will be as cool as a cucumber. In some cars, it may come as standard fitment; in some, it may be a cost option, and in some others, it may be an aftermarket part that can be installed at a local workshop. In the last case, just make sure you are aware how it affects your vehicle’s warranty.

Drop it like it’s hot

If you don’t have a remote starter, worry not! As you get into your vehicle, make sure you open all the windows. This relieves the cabin of warm air by allowing circulation. But here are two little secrets. One is to open the boot also, since it is the largest cavity in the car and lets out the most air and the other is that on some vehicles, by clicking unlock button on the key fob twice you can drop the windows and the sunroof simultaneously, in one single move.

Keep on movin’

If you are in the car and have the engine running, make sure you’re on the move. Remaining stationary may reduce the performance of your car’s air conditioner, as they work better when there is a flowing stream of air hitting your car’s condenser coil. This was especially true for some VW vehicles.

Light-coloured cars

And if you are planning to buy a vehicle, get one with a light colour. Lighter shades, especially white, reflect the most number of photons and absorb the least amount of energy. Thereby, less heat is radiated into the cabin from the metallic skin. It is no wonder that white is the most preferred choice of paint in this part of the world.

Use a windshield sunshade

The consequence of leaving your car outside for too long is having our hands roasted by the unquenchable heat of the steering wheel. We’ve all been there! And it’s not just the wheel, I remember once I got into my dad’s 10-year-old BMW 325i and the shift lever broke, no thanks to the overbearing heat. The easiest solution, in this case, is to keep both your wheel and dashboard cool by covering the windshield with a roller shade or a reflective foldable sunshade. These are usually handouts at motor exhibitions, but you can also buy them at a local hardware store or car dealer for cheap.

Park in the shade

The most obvious remedy for preventing your vehicle from being baked, is by parking it in the shade. If you don’t have the privilege of basement parking or a shaded parking spot or the shadow of a tall building… at the very least find a tree. The alternative is to get a car cover you can easily roll up and stow away in the boot.

Note that parking in the shade will allow you to run the A/C in part load on starting up the vehicle, which is always more efficient than running it or any mechanical device at full load or ‘max’. This is one way of saving fuel.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about more ways on how to reduce fuel consumption…

Don’t rev too hard!

Friction is proportional to engine speed. And greater the friction, more the fuel consumed. Hence, if you want to reduce gas guzzling, the rule is to keep the revs low. Some cars have an ‘Eco’ graphic that pops up on the instrument panel indicating that your revs are within the most economical range; if not available, make sure you don’t run the rpm beyond 3000. And if you care about saving those precious hydrocarbon molecules, try not to rev out your engine just to hear the exhaust note. Also, accelerate gradually. Short bursts of power are not advised simply because as soon as you take your foot of the gas pedal, engine braking kicks in.

Tyres and tyre pressure

The type of tyre employed and its condition contribute to fuel economy directly. Speaking of which, rolling resistance has a big part to play as well. Off-roaders like the Wrangler Rubicon have tyres with a deep thread pattern. It may be worth considering switching those for ones with a smoother thread pattern, like those on the Sport or Sahara variant. Also, ensure the tyre pressure always matches the manufacturer ratings. You can find the recommended numbers for most vehicles on the driver’s side door frame.

Getting the tyres filled with nitrogen also helps, as it is less susceptible to pressure variations with temperature differences as opposed to tyres filled with air.

Do away with lugging extra weight

Some of us are used to treating our vehicles as mobile storage rooms, leaving shoes, clothes, gym equipment and other accessories in the vehicles. And you don’t have to be a science wiz to know that more weight means more energy is required to move it. Do an occasional check on what is needed and what is not, and try to keep the vehicle as light as possible. Also, keep in mind that while it is easy to flush away the hot air, these random items within the car also capture, retain and continuously radiate heat into the cabin even after several minutes of air conditioning.

Take the highway

Between the starting point and the destination, there will almost always be several routes one can take. And if the distance is comparable, the fuel consumed while on the highway will be lesser than that on a route that involves traffic signals, stop signs and turns. This works well in all vehicles with internal combustion engines. But in the case of hybrids, it is quite the opposite. Manufacturer recommended figures for say the Prius is lower in the city — thanks to regenerative breaking — than on the highway.

Avoid traffic

In a bustling city like Dubai, it is hard to avoid jams every now and then. That start-stop nature of bumper-to-bumper traffic can increase fuel consumption considerably. Our advice is to avoid popular roads and rush hour whenever possible. Perhaps you can accomplish other chores like grocery shopping or meeting a friend while waiting for the tide of traffic to turn.

We hope that you find these pointers useful, and in doing so, make your journeys more comfortable and frugal.

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