Living in the Middle East means getting accustomed to the desert heat for most of the year. Unfortunately, this also means frequent encounters with sandstorms, which can be quite harsh on vehicles. In fact, driving during a sandstorm can easily be quite dangerous.
During sandstorms, cars often suffer from engines overheating, problems with radiators and air conditioners, and external damage to the windshield, paint or even the tires.
Although it’s better to stay indoors during a sandstorm, there may be times when you either face one while driving, or your car may be exposed to it outside.
Follow these top tips to protect your car and minimise damage.
While Driving Keep Headlights On:
If you get trapped in a sandstorm, drive slowly with windows closed and headlights on. Sandstorms greatly reduce visibility and headlights can help you to maintain your sense of direction. Having headlights on can also help other drivers identify where your car is on the road, reducing the chances of a crash.
Since sand particles are tiny, they can scratch the windshield and paint at high speeds, in addition to creating obstructions within the car. This, in turn, can lead to many other problems, including the engine overheating and the radiator or the grille being affected. So, to be safe, drive slowly.
Keep Safe Distance
Maintaining distance between yourself and other drivers is key to ensure the safety of both you and them, especially since the sand makes it difficult to pinpoint the location of other vehicles accurately.
If It’s Bad, Pull Over
If the storm increases in intensity, consider stopping at the side of the road and switching off the headlights but keeping your hazards on (keeping headlights on while parked might confuse other drivers and cause them to veer off the road).
After a Sandstorm Conduct a Routine Check
Even if your car was just parked outside, a sandstorm can do considerable damage to it. Once the storm passes, it is best to make some routine checks to ensure your car still functions normally.
Check Covered Areas
Remember: sand particles are tiny. During a sandstorm, these particles are spun up and can reach areas that you normally keep covered, including the undercarriage, the windshield, tires, brakes, radiator, air filter and the front grille. Checking and cleaning these areas after a sandstorm can prevent their failure and potentially an accident.
Wash Your Car
Washing your car after a sandstorm is a good way to keep it clean and avoid erosion of the car’s paint. Applying a protective film on your car’s windows, windshield and headlights is also a good measure against damage.
Purchase a Cover
If your car is frequently parked outdoors, it is best to purchase a car cover for it as a protective shield from the dust. But be warned: this can result in some scratches eventually due to the strong wind causing the cover itself to flap against the car.
If It’s Bad, Visit a Mechanic
Clearing out sand from your car might not be enough as the damage may already be done. If you’re unable to check any part of your car, or if you face other issues, it’s best to visit a mechanic for a full review to make sure everything is functioning properly.
Always Be Prepared
Finally, it’s best to always be prepared. Carrying a bottle of water and some coolant will greatly help if you get caught off-guard.