As we brace ourselves for the full impact of the new water restrictions starting February 1 which limits personal usage to just 50 litres per day; how many of us have included the care for our vehicles in that allocation? On average, per month, we use a minimum of 300 litres of water to keep our cars running. From car washes, to water for windscreen wipers, and radiators, total water usage will now constitute 20% of the new per capita water restrictions.
The water crises will pass, but unfortunately damage to our vehicles will remain if we don’t consider alternative ways to care for them during this drought. Water is not a critical component to the care for, or running of, our cars. In fact in many instances, certain alternatives are considered better to use than water.
Here AutoTrader share their tips for looking after your vehicle during the Cape water crises.
1) Car washing goes dry
Let’s start with the obvious one – car washing. A 10-minute car wash uses on average 380 litres of water. Wash your car once a week, and that’s your total water allocation for the entire month! Not washing your car isn’t an option either. Dirt mixed with rain and other pollutants; bird droppings; and types of sap, can etch your car’s paintwork right off. You’ll not only have to spend money fixing the damage, it will also affect your resale value. Don’t fear, you do have options. There are dry wash facilities around, but they are costly. If you’ve always enjoyed a Saturday morning spent cleaning your car, consider using a water-less car wash liquid and a microfiber cloth. Alternatively, gently wipe your car down each day with a microfiber cloth before the dirt gets too thick.
2) Caring for your radiator
A 4-cylinder car requires on average 4 litres of fluid in the radiator. Halve your water use by using a coolant. The ideal mix is 50% coolant and 50% water. Some coolants don’t require a water mix at all; not only will this replace your use of water completely, but it will also help prevent corrosion in the cooling system.
3) Water is not your only wiper option
The average windscreen wiper system holds around 5 litres of liquid, and it need not be water. In countries where the temperature dips below freezing, water is complete replaced with windscreen wiper solution containing an antifreeze component. You can completely replace water with wiper fluid, with no damage to the internal workings. If the extra spend is over your budget, a little research online will reveal washing liquid, vinegar, and ammonia based recipes to mix at home.
Yes, for the time being petrol stations are still filling our cars with the water we need. No we don’t know for how much longer, but maybe we should consider that it all comes from the same depleting sources. Changing our habits can be that little extra help to the devastating situation, while still looking after one of life’s biggest investments – the car.