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Navigating South Africa's weather extremes

 

Scorching summer heat across the nation, Gauteng’s hailstones the size of golf balls and Cape Town’s powerful gusts of wind can all take their toll on your car’s health. Torrential downpours and flooded roads, meanwhile, can vastly increase your chances of being involved in a car accident.

Ernest North, co-founder of Naked, the fully digital insurance platform, takes a look at what you can do to protect your car from weather-related damage in South Africa’s harsh climate.

 

What to do about summer heat and wet roads

Extreme weather driving

The blazing sun can fade your car's paint and even its dashboard and interior. Massive hailstones can leave outsized dents in your paintwork. And thunderstorms can make it even trickier to navigate the roads safely. Here are some tips for looking after your car. 

Park under shade as much as you can. If you don’t have a garage, consider investing in a car cover or some of those sunshades. This will help keep your car cooler and protect its interior.

If you live in an area where thunderstorms or hailstorms are common, look out for hail warnings. Try to limit your driving when weather conditions are expected to be bad.

Should you get caught in a hailstorm, look for cover for your car. Hail-proof car covers or even a thick blanket can offer some protection if you don’t have access to covered parking.

Finding somewhere safe to park and waiting out a severe storm is a good idea. But don’t park under a tree because falling branches can damage your car. Pulling over under a bridge is also risky because visibility is bad during storms.

Ensure your tyres, brakes and wiper blades are in tip-top condition. 

 

Winter blues

Heavy rains and occasional floods in the Eastern and Western Cape can cause water damage to your car’s exterior and electrical system. Here are some steps you can take:

Watch your car's seals and undercarriage for signs of rust or damage. Repair scratches or dents ASAP to prevent further damage.

Don’t try to drive through flooded roads — rather take another route. If you find your car in rising water, don’t restart the engine to avoid damage. Call your insurer's emergency assistance line for advice and a tow. Prioritise your own safety over your car if the water is rising fast.

Roads can get slippery in wet weather. Slow down and maintain a longer following distance. Turn on your hazards to ensure other drivers can see you. 

Dealing with gusty winds

Powerful Cape winds can stir up a flurry of dust and debris, which can damage your vehicle's paintwork. This is what you can do about it:

Wash and wax your ride to protect the paintwork.

Strong winds can affect the stability and steering of your car. It can also send stuff flying into the road. Reduce your speed and keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. Watch out for unpredictable behaviour from other vehicles.   

Tips for unique provincial conditions

The Free State experiences extreme highs and lows in temperatures. Regularly check your battery, tyre pressure, and coolant levels to deal with the changes.

The Northern Cape is infamous for dust and blazing heat. Make sure your cooling system is functioning well and change air filters frequently to prevent dust from clogging your engine.

Coastal Kwa-Zulu Natal’s humidity and salty air are brutal for paint and metal. Wash and wax your car to protect it against rust and salt damage. Also, consider anti-rust treatments if you live close to the sea.

Your vehicle is your asset and needs lots of love and care.