Summer

Keep Your Cool With Our Top Tips For Driving In Hot Weather

Heatwaves and extended periods of hot sunny weather can be somewhat of a rarity in the UK, but we still need to be adequately prepared for when those glorious few months of sunshine roll around.

Extreme temperatures and heat can affect both the driver and vehicle, and pose significant risks and challenges. Failing to take care of yourself or your vehicle on the roads in the hot weather could lead you to crash, break down, or end up with your beloved car on the scrap heap.

To help you prepare, we’ve compiled a list of essential summer driving safety tips to help you keep your cool, and stay safe on the roads in the sun.

Keep your car hydrated

It may sound silly, but when the temperatures rise it’s important to ensure that everyone in the car (including the vehicle itself) has plenty of fluids. While water works best for keeping human passengers hydrated, your vehicle will require a number of different engine fluids to keep it running smoothly in extreme heat.

Engine fluids act as a coolant, carrying heat away from vital parts of the vehicle, as well as lubricating them and ensuring everything in your vehicle is working correctly. High temperatures can evaporate the fluids in your car and reduce their cooling effects, which can lead to overheating and faults, so it’s vital to check the levels of all of your vehicle’s fluids before driving a long journey in the heat. Vehicle fluids to check before setting off include:

  • Brake fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Motor oil
  • Engine coolant
  • Screenwash

Always refer to your vehicle’s manual to ensure you’re filling your vehicle with the correct fluid.

Dress for the weather

It’s important to dress for the weather – whatever the weather – so that you can drive comfortably and safely. When the temperatures are rising, be sure to wear light clothing that will keep you cool (think: shorts, t-shirts or vests).

Though it’s not illegal to drive barefoot, or wear inappropriate footwear such as flip flops, your footwear choices could result in a careless driving charge. To ensure you have full grip on the pedals in your car, be sure to pack a pair of ‘driving shoes’ as well as your summer sandals of choice.

It’s also wise to keep a clean pair of sunglasses in your car all year-round – but particularly in the sunnier months to avoid glare and dazzle from the sun. Just be sure to avoid lenses that darken in strong sunlight.

Though it’s not illegal to drive barefoot, or wear inappropriate footwear such as flip flops, your footwear choices could result in a careless driving charge. To ensure you have full grip on the pedals in your car, be sure to pack a pair of ‘driving shoes’ as well as your summer sandals of choice.

It’s also wise to keep a clean pair of sunglasses in your car all year-round – but particularly in the sunnier months to avoid glare and dazzle from the sun. Just be sure to avoid lenses that darken in strong sunlight.

Maintain your vehicle’s air conditioning system

Your car’s air conditioning system can be a real life saver during a heat wave, but it’s important to carry out regular checks to ensure everything is working efficiently when the temperatures outside start to rise.

It’s advisable to get your air conditioning system serviced ahead of the summer months, as it may be clogged and faulty after months of infrequent use over the winter. If you notice your air conditioning system is not working, you should contact a certified technician to carry out any repairs as soon as possible. If left, a malfunctioning system can drain power, fuel and can lead to an overheating engine.

Don’t let yourself get sleepy in the sun

If you’re driving somewhere after a day of sitting in the sun, you may be feeling more sleepy than usual. According to the AA, there are four things to do if you feel tiredness coming on:

  • At the first sign of tiredness, stop and take a break
  • Stop in a safe place – don’t stop on a motorway hard shoulder
  • Drink two cups of coffee or an equivalent caffeinated drink
  • Take a short nap of around 15-20 minutes

In the summer months, the pollen count is also typically much higher. If you suffer from hayfever, and your symptoms are particularly bad, it’s best to get someone else to drive if you can. If this is not possible, remember to:

  • Avoid taking medication that could cause drowsiness
  • Keep tissues close to hand
  • Close air vents and windows to stop pollen coming into the car
  • Clean your car regularly to reduce the amount of dust

Look after your tyres

Your vehicle’s tyres are at particular risk of damage during the hot weather, as the rubber generates more friction and heat on the hot roads, leading to overinflation. It’s therefore particularly important to check your tyre pressure and tread depth before setting off on a journey in the summer months.

Though 1.6mm is the minimum legal tread depth in the UK, it’s advisable to have tyres with a greater tread depth in the summer. To find your vehicle’s recommended tyre pressure, read through your vehicle’s manual – which should also give you guidance on what pressure to use with a normal load, as well as if you have an increased load (for example, due to holiday luggage). Remember to always check the pressure of your tyres when they are cold (ideally before you’ve made any journeys that day), because hot tyres may give inaccurate pressure readings.

Always check your battery

Car batteries can be easily damaged during extreme heat, for a number of different reasons. The fluid in car batteries evaporates faster when exposed to high temperatures, which can lead to corrosion, and constant heat and vibrations can cause the battery to fail.

In order to protect your battery during the warmer months, ensure it is securely attached (to prevent over-vibration), and be sure to clean any corrosive substance from the battery terminals. If you’re unsure on how to inspect your vehicle’s battery, always consult an auto technician.

What to pack in an emergency car kit

While you can take several steps to ensure you’re driving as safely as possible in the hot weather, there are some events and hazards on the roads that cannot be avoided. For this reason, it’s advisable to pack an emergency kit of essentials to keep in the car should you crash or break down.

The best items to include in your hot weather car kit are:

  • Snacks and water
    Because you don’t know how long you’ll be waiting for and nobody likes to be hungry!
  • A warning triangle
    So you can alert other drivers when necessary.
  • Hi-vis and warm jackets
    In the event that it is unsafe for you to stay inside your vehicle and you need to wait outside once the sun has gone in.
  • A blanket
    For when the sun goes in and you need some extra warmth – or to sit on when waiting for assistance. (Always ensure you’re sitting and waiting in a safe spot away from traffic and not on the hard shoulder).
  • Phone charger or portable battery pack
    So that you can call people in the event of an emergency situation, whether the police, a recovery truck, family or friends.
  • An up-to-date road map or sat-nav
    In case you get lost and need to navigate your way to safety.
  • Sun cream
    In case you break down on a particularly sunny day.
  • First aid kit
    In case you, or somebody else, becomes injured.
  • A powerful torch
    Having a torch is incredibly handy in case you find yourself in a situation where it’s dark and you require light. For example; if it’s dark and you need to change to your spare tyre. Just be sure to pack extra batteries!
  • Tow rope and jump leads
    Because you never know when your own vehicle, or others, may need a helping hand.

If the worst should happen and you need to scrap your vehicle, then consider getting a quote with us here at Scrap Car Comparison and your car could be collected within a day or two.

 
 

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