When we think about the worst driving conditions, we tend to focus on winter. But did you know, the warm summer months come packed with a number of dangers, both for ourselves as drivers as well as for the wellbeing of our vehicles? So just what do we need to know in order to stay safe on the roads when the weather is at its best? Read on to discover some essential summer driving tips.
Summer driving in numbers
You might think that breakdowns hit their highest numbers in winter – but you’d be wrong. According to the RAC, there are 20% more callouts for roadside assistance when the weather is hot. In coastal areas, this can rise to as much as 30%. So what’s behind these numbers? In a nutshell, your car is 50% more likely to overheat in hot weather, and this is one of the single biggest causes of vehicle breakdowns.
1. Check your coolant
One of the most important fluids in your car is your coolant. Not only does this essential liquid prevent your engine from freezing in low temperatures, but it also helps to prevent it from overheating during normal usage – and this becomes dramatically more important when driving in high temperatures. On a hot day, the circulating temperature of your coolant will be higher than usual, meaning that there is a higher risk of overheating occurring. This risk can be reduced by making sure that your coolant reservoir is full, and that you have high-quality coolant that is not too old. Over time, the condition of your coolant can deteriorate, resulting in a lower boiling point and reduced protection.
If you’re not sure, drop into your local tyre fitter who will be happy to check your coolant and replace if necessary.
2. Mind your tyres
Your car tyres naturally get hotter with every mile you drive, and this causes the air inside them to expand. When you add high temperatures to the equation, it is easy to see why this can be a dangerous combination. The hotter the air inside your tyres gets, the more it expands. This causes over-inflation which can affect your grip, braking and steering. In extreme cases, it can cause bulging in the tyre walls, which substantially increases the risk of a blowout.
When driving in hot weather, it is recommended to check your tyre pressure more regularly as you may be operating above the manufacturer’s recommended pressure and this can have potentially dangerous and costly consequences.
3. Keep an eye on your oil
You may not be aware that in hot temperatures, the oil in your engine becomes slightly thinner. This can mean that there is less protection from friction, which increases the danger of damage to your engine.
As a rule, it is advisable to change your engine oil before summer with new, high-quality engine oil of the grade specified by your vehicle handbook. Also, ensure that you check regularly and top up if required.
4. Screenwash and wiper blades
When the weather stays dry for a longer period of time, roads can quickly become dusty and insect populations dramatically increase. This can cause your windscreen to become dirty extremely quickly, resulting in reduced vision, as well as distracting splats. Topping up with a screenwash that is designed to remove bugs is recommended to help keep your windscreen as clean as possible. This will only be effective, however, if your wiper blades are in a healthy condition. Remember, they may dry and crack in summer, especially if they are older, so it can be a good idea to replace them ahead of any driving trip.
5. Check your air conditioning
There’s nothing worse than embarking on a long drive for your summer holiday only to discover that your air conditioning system only blows hot air. There are many reasons why you may find that your air conditioning doesn’t work as expected. The refrigerant gas may have reached the end of its useful life and require changing, or your pipes may have become clogged or damaged. If you don’t use your air conditioning for a prolonged period of time, the pipes may dry out and crack when you do decide to fire it up.
It is recommended to service your air conditioning every couple of years – ideally well before the hot weather arrives.
To help keep your car in optimum condition this summer, don’t hesitate to pop into your local Tyreland fitting station, where we can take care of all your tyre needs and much more – at some of the best prices you’ll find. Call now on 01 860 20 20 to find your nearest location.