The harsh weather conditions we experience in most African countries have effects on the part performance of vehicle systems. If you will agree with me, we can only get maximum fuel economy if our vehicles are in top running condition, i.e. having all required maintenance/cooling system in order. I am aware that most of these vehicles are designed and manufacture for temperate conditions or in environment where the ambient temperature are usually at minus zero degrees. While most of our place in Africa especially in northern part of Nigeria are about 38 to 46 degree Celsius. Due to this reasons overheating is sometime uncontrollable in same vehicles.
The fact is that most of these vehicles are fitted with thermostat which regulate the limit of boiling point which also have no much used in most AFRICAN weather condition, and some of the vehicles are fitted with single cell radiator which contained less quantity of water in the radiator with A.C condenser that tend to prevent the incoming air that would have reduced the heat generated by the engine when in motion. Why vehicles that are fitted with A.C are not fitted with a double cell radiator or three cell radiators? Although I am fully aware the effect of under cooling but this is our situation over here in Africa and Nigeria is a good example of such. Can something be done? More especially after two to three years of usage of such vehicle these problems tend to be experienced even among the brand new cars in general, especially those vehicle that are using one cell radiator.
The level of temperature indicator especially those one that are fitted with A.C and with single cell radiator are not encouraging, case study of ABUJA, LAGOS, LOKOJA, MAIDUGURI during traffic hold up that may lasted for one or two hour some of the vehicle radiator got busted.
Speaking out of my practical experience as a professional, some of the things that kept us going in order to reduce this overheating is by removing the thermostat that are fitted and replace single cell radiator with double cell radiator or even three cell radiator, in most severe hot area in our country.
Overheating is the worst thing that can ever happen to any vehicle as it causes the following to most engines of a vehicle.
1. Loss of engine power/untimely wearing of engines
2. The tendency of excessive fuel/oil consumption. Because the engine is working under stress.
3. The engine moving parts may be affected due to overheating.
4. Valves oil seal are effected and white smoke is experienced which may not necessary be an engine ring problem.
5. Sharp noise when the engine oil loses it viscosity property, it becomes thin as a result of overheating.
6. Engine bearing wear up and there will be clearance between the crankshaft and knocking sound is experienced due to overheating.
The world we are living is changing fast than we thought, many big cities surfer from plagues, a times it is not because of infectious diseases, nor is it a destructive swarm of voracious insects but still the well-being of the millions of people is being threatened. What is it? It is the plagues of automobile traffic congestion where all kinds of automobile smoke are experienced due to the above mentioned problem (overheating). For this reason bigger radiator for maximum quality of water are needed or designed to match the condition of weather for such country like ours and proper caution should be included in the vehicle manufacturer manual hand book for a related problem and to educate vehicle users. Overheating is even worst with people who are just learning how to drive. Mechanics adopt a system by losing the top cylinder and double the top cylinder gasket for fear of overheating without knowing the implication and risk of doubling the top cylinder gasket which they thought is the solution. Consequently the engine output performance is reduced and thereby shortens the life span of the engine.
According to researchers (the New Zealand Herald reports) that “emissions from car exhausts, noise and stress are likely to be the main causes of the sudden increase in risk, frequent exposure to traffic congestion can prove detrimental to our health. One recent study even suggest that there is an increase in the risk of heart attack for at least an hour after a person is stuck in traffic, because most motor vehicle emit nitrogen oxide and some carcinogenic substance, many vehicle particularly those with diesel engine spew out larger amount of minute particles. These pose serious danger to public health especially for Asthmatic person. It has been estimated that up to three million people die each year as a result of air pollution, much of it coming from motor vehicle. (One report from awake magazine news paper 2011) says that 10 percent of respiratory infections in European children are a result of fine particulate pollution, with an even higher rate in traffic-congested cities. Consider also the dangers to the earth’s environment, Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide from vehicle exhaust contribute to acid rain, which contaminates bodies of water, harms aquatic life, and damages a wide variety of vegetation. To make matters worse, vehicles emit huge quantities of carbon dioxide. This is the principal gas blamed for global warming, which is said to pose other dangers for planet Earth. Places where there are more congestion/ long traffic hold up these are best experienced especially when the A.C is on, temperature tend to rise up simply because the vehicle is not in motion and in hot environment and this hold up may last for an hour or more in some places like Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria. This condition sometime burst the radiator hoses, blocking hoses and radiator itself which in turn may affect the top cylinder gasket especially with non-experience driver that cannot passive odors or sense the danger. The vehicle may go off due to lack of water in the radiator, which may result in spending a lot of money one never budgeted for and it will also affect you economically.
This problem of overheating is experienced in most modern vehicle found in our region, due to the harsh condition of weather, which I believe can easily be solved by well-trained automobile professionals.
Thank you God bless you.
Aliyu A. Salihu