How The Haze Affects Your Car
It's that time of the year again.
Almost like clockwork, this is the time of year when many parts of Malaysia experience a haze coming from overseas. Typically, the haze that we experience in this country is caused by farming practices called 'slash-and-burn' cultivation. Despite being illegal, some farmers deliberately cut and burn parts of the forest to clear areas that will later be used for growing crops. Unfortunately, the dry season makes it too easy for these fires to spread uncontrollably. This not only affects people near the source of the flames, but it also travels far and wide affecting people in other countries in the region.
It's quite easy to see why the haze is so devastating. A 'haze' by definition is when the air carries dust, smoke, and other dangerous particles in such high concentration that it even partially blocks light from coming through. This is why the haze makes it difficult for you to see into the distance, and why it causes so many problems when you breathe it into your lungs. This is especially dangerous for people who already have upper-respiratory issues such as asthma.
But the haze isn't only dangerous for our physical health. This kind of weather can also be quite damaging to our cars as well. The haze can affect the exterior of the vehicle, it's interior, and can diminish its overall performance as well.
Let's take a quick look at how the hazy weather we're experiencing affects your car.
The Exterior of the Car
When experiencing hazy weather, it's essential to be wary about your car's paint. Remember: the haze consists of all sorts of particles floating in the air, much of which could have a corrosive effect on your car's exterior. While it may not be damaging to the glass windows and windscreen, it would undoubtedly damage the layer of paint on the vehicle. Too much of exposure to these elements could end up costing you a lot of money should you find yourself needing a whole new paint job altogether.
But how could you deal with this? Realistically, the best thing to be done is to minimize your car's exposure to the haze. If possible, your vehicle should be parked in a covered space. For many of us who have no choice but to park in the open, perhaps a simple car cover could help in reducing the damage. Most importantly, you could also wash your car frequently to avoid a buildup of the corrosive particles from the haze on your car's paint.
The Interior of the Car
Despite being closed off from the outside, the haze can still pollute the car's interior. The air conditioning system works by recirculating the air that's already in the car. However, since the vehicle isn't airtight, some of the surrounding air still makes its way inside where it can cause damage.
For one, the corrosive particles in the air can slowly damage your car's fixtures, especially the parts made from rubber and plastic. Too much of this could damage fixtures that aren't so easy or cheap to replace. Additionally, the air conditioning system continually filters the air, and with much of it being polluted, its filters could get clogged faster than usual. The degree to which all of this damage really depends on how much outside air makes its way into the car, so driving with the window down would definitely make it a lot worse.
The Car's Overall Performance
Most cars on the road are still powered by combustion engines which rely on a mixture of air and fuel to operate. For these engines to work efficiently, they require a constant supply of clean air. Despite the air filters they have, hazy weather conditions will push those filters to their limits to a point where they are no longer helpful. With frequent driving, those air filters will reach their limits and soon polluted air will make its way inside the engine.
When that happens, that reduces the engine's overall efficiency, causing a reduction in performance as well. This means that your engine will have to work extra hard to produce the same amount of power that it usually needs if it were operating efficiently. Doing this will increase the wear and tear of the engine and shorten the overall lifespan of your car.
So what can you do to avoid all of this damage and the problems that come with it? The answers aren't simple. It's easy to say that you should just keep your car covered and locked away somewhere until the haze ends, but that isn't practical for most people. Maybe a balanced approach would be to use the car less (relying on public transport as a substitute), while also providing extra maintenance to the vehicle by washing it frequently and changing its various air filters.