Guide to summer driving

With a little common sense, summer driving can be fun and safe for you and your passengers. By carrying out a few checks and making sure your car is stocked with essentials, you can help yourself avoid trouble on the roads this summer.

Key pre-journey checks for summer driving

Before you head out on a lengthy road trip in the warmer temperatures, be sure to give your vehicle the once-over by checking the following:

  • Oil level
    Ensure your engine’s oil levels are sufficient to prevent damage and, worse still, breakdown. Test by removing all excess oil from the oil stick with a paper towel and dipping it back into its holster, before removing it to find the oil mark on the gauge.
  • Fuel gauge
    Speaking of gauges, it’s a simple error to go out on a journey without enough fuel. Be mindful that cars use more fuel in traffic congestion.
  • Engine coolant
    Make sure your engine’s coolant fluid is well above the minimum mark displayed in the tank underneath the vehicle bonnet.
  • Tyre tread
    Your car’s tyre treads must have at least 1.6 mm to be legally roadworthy.
  • Tyre pressure
    Check your tyres are inflated to your car manufacturer’s recommended levels.

What to have in your car for all summer eventualities

Delays and breakdowns happen when you least expect it. If you break down and have to pull over in the summer sunshine, be sure to have the following in your car with you:

  • A bottle or two of fresh water to stay hydrated
  • Sun cream, in case you have to leave your vehicle and are exposed to the sun
  • A fully charged mobile phone to reach out to family or the emergency services
  • A first-aid kit
  • A warning triangle
  • A fire extinguisher

What are the most common car breakdowns in the summer months?

If you encounter a car breakdown on the roads this summer, it will likely have been caused by one of the following:

  • Failing tyres
    Car tyres take an absolute pounding on the roads and motorways in the summer. When the road temperature is far hotter than the air temperature, it can cause blistering and cracks to occur in tyres that are old and worn.
  • Flat batteries
    Congested roads often due to single or multiple car accidents - during the summer do nothing for car batteries. When vehicles are involved in stop-start activity, batteries drain quicker. Furthermore, a car crawling in heavy traffic is unlikely to be generating sufficient power to replenish the drain of your battery.
  • Clutch failures
    Busier roads during summer holiday season mean more traffic and more clutch use. Vehicles that tow caravans and trailers tend to be more susceptible to clutch failure due to the increased load on the towing vehicle.
  • Faulty or broken alternators
    A damaged alternator is linked to poor batteries. If the family car is full and everyone is using USB points to charge phones and the radio to listen to music, the alternator and battery may struggle to keep up with resource-hungry devices, especially combined with the strain of air conditioning on full blast to combat the summer heat.

Top tips for driving in the summer sunshine

  • In the best of the summer weather, sunshine can cause awkward glare for drivers through the windscreen. When a sun visor doesn’t cut the mustard, be sure to have a reliable pair of sunglasses to wear at the wheel.
  • If you are planning on towing across the UK or heading overseas this summer, ensure your caravan or trailer is well-balanced with an evenly distributed load. This can prevent tyre degradation.
  • One final tip for towers - be mindful that your braking distances will be much longer towing a caravan or trailer.
  • The sky-high temperatures in the summer are a recipe for road rage, so do your best to stay calm and take regular breaks.

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