When people think about driving, they think of locations like Route 66 in the United States. They don’t often think about Africa. But they should.
There are more than 42.5 million cars in Africa. The continent imports four times more automotive products than it exports, so that number is expected to rise.
Wherever you live on the continent, a car is an essential tool for transportation. But your car needs your help. You need to practice good battery maintenance so your car can survive all your road trips.
Unfortunately, Africa’s weather makes protecting battery terminals a little complicated. Not too worry. Here is your quick guide to battery maintenance in Africa.
African Climate Zones and Weather
There are four main climate zones within Africa. Central Africa includes the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and South Sudan.
During rainy seasons, the Congo sees heavy rainfalls. Intense thunderstorms with high temperatures and lightning flashes are commonplace. Winds from the northeast and southeast meet, which creates rapid changes in air pressure.
East Africa includes Somalia and Ethiopia. Temperatures in this area have been steadily rising since the 1980s. Heatwaves and droughts are common, but storms also occur, especially on the coasts.
Southern Africa includes South Africa and Mozambique. It is hard to predict the weather in Southern Africa. Water surrounds the area on three sides, which creates great uncertainty.
In general, Southern Africa experiences a dry winter and a humid summer. Bands of air can rise and push rain storms onto the continent.
West Africa includes Ghana, the Ivory Coast, and Nigeria. Oceans greatly influence the climate of West Africa.
Conditions can vary year from year and season to season. West Africa has seen rising temperatures, which have exacerbated drought.
Most countries in Africa experience two separate rainy seasons. The major season occurs from April to June, bringing significant rainfall. Conditions are humid and hot.
A less significant rainy season occurs from October to December. Storms are less intense and shorter, though they may be too much to travel in.
Battery Maintenance Strategies
When driving in any climate, there are a few general rules you can consider to maintain your car and battery.
1) Clean the terminals with baking soda and water.
2) Check the voltage of the battery regularly, especially if it is not used regularly or only for short periods of time.
3) Check to see that the battery case is not deformed and that there are no leaks.
4) Keep accessories like interior lights off, especially while the car is ideling for long periods as this will draw power from the battery instead of the alternator.
5) Try avoid driving for long periods in extreme temperatures as this will place strain on the battery and other equipment.
6) Keep the battery as dry as possible.
7) If your batteries have difficulty cranking the engine, you can jump-start them. Keep jumper cables in your trunk. Wear gloves so you don’t electrocute yourself.
You can swap your batteries out. Just make sure you know what type you are using.
Driving in Africa
Careful driving can extend the life of your batteries. You want to drive regular and long distances so your batteries have time to recharge.
Africa is a great location to drive long distances. If you are driving in from outside the continent, you can take a ferry into northern Africa from southern Europe.
Wherever you are starting from, plan out what your trip will be in detail. Check locations for weather conditions and keep in mind that they may change suddenly.
Caring for Your Car
Battery maintenance is about more than replacing your batteries when they’re dead. It’s about taking note of the weather.
Africa has several different climate zones. For the most part, the continent experiences high rainfall, humidity, and heat.
All three of these can affect the lives of your batteries. Keep your batteries dry and cool. Check them every day if you are driving long distances.
Plan out any major trip and check the weather. Drive carefully.
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