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Driving in the summer: what you need to know

This summer has felt changeable to say the least – dry heat one minute, hot and humid the next, and then a thunderstorm out of nowhere with cooler days behind it. With a scorching week like this though, it’s important to think about how the heat can affect you when you’re driving in the summer.

All weather conditions, including heatwaves, present their own unique set of challenges. Driving in very high or very low temperatures, and maintaining vehicles in extreme conditions, takes time, thought and a little knowhow.

Putting some time into preparing your car for the heat will help to prevent breakdowns, minimise damage to your vehicle and help you get back on the road as quickly as possible if something does go wrong.

It is particularly important to think about if you are heading off on a long journey or on holiday – the last thing you want to is to be left high and dry and far from home.

Check your oil and water

Your car’s coolant and oil are both crucial for keeping the engine cool when it’s hot outside. Make sure you check the levels of all your liquids before setting off and top up any that seem a little low.

If your oil or coolant fall below minimum levels, it can do real damage to your engine and could even result in you getting stranded out in the sun.

Check your tyres

During a heatwave, the air inside your tyres will expand. If the tyres are in bad condition, this can make them more vulnerable to punctures, rips and tears than in cooler weather. Make sure you take a close look at your tyres before you set off on a long journey. If you think they’re not up to scratch, have them replaced before you hit the road.

Keep the cool air flowing

If you have air conditioning and haven’t had it serviced for a while, check it before setting off. If it doesn’t feel quite as cold as it should, get it serviced as you could be due for a regas, or there might be a fault. There’s nothing worse than the heat suddenly rising on a journey when you realise the air con has failed.

Wear your sunglasses

Glare can be a real problem when driving in sunny weather, especially at sunrise and sunset. If you’re hitting the road during a heatwave, make sure you pack a good pair of sunglasses. Give the lenses a clean before you set off to ensure that dirt, streaks and other imperfections don’t impact on your vision when you’re on the road.

Throw some shade on it

Protecting your car from the sun will help to keep the interior cool and minimise potential damage from the high temperatures. Whenever possible, park your car in the shade.

If there’s no shade around, invest in a silver protector for your windscreen to keep the sun off the interior. Also remember your side window sun shields if you have passengers in the back.

Carry water and supplies

Breaking down in a heatwave can be tough. If you’re caught somewhere with no shelter, things can get hot fast so it’s a good idea to pack a few emergency supplies into your car just in case.

Whenever you’re heading off on a long journey, pack a cool bag full of drinks and snacks to keep you going if you do break down. You could also pack an umbrella to give you a little bit of shade on a sunny day.

Also think about any passenger needs, particularly children and pets. A difficult journey can become even more so if you are distracted by the discomfort of others in the car.

Plan your journey

When you take a trip during the summer holidays, you may find everyone else has had the same idea too, and end up in a traffic jam.

Sitting in a hot vehicle at a standstill can take its toll on both you and the car. Avoid driving at busy and hotter times if you can, and if you do get caught up in traffic, keep an eye on the temperature gauge. Cars are more likely to overheat in hot weather, so pull over to let it cool down if you need to.

So there you go; some hopefully useful tips for enjoying the hot weather while it is with us.

If you hate the hot weather and can’t think of anything worse than driving out in it, don’t worry – before you know it, we will be talking about protecting your car and driving safely in sub-zero temperatures!