The UK and the world at large is going through a serious heatwave right now. The UK’s all-time temperature record is set to be broken as the hot and dry summer continues. The last week of July 2018 will see highs of up to 37°C (99°F) forecast in southern, eastern and central England. But the Met Office stated that “if conditions all come together”, the record of 38.5°C (101°F) could be beaten.
With such savagely sunny weather out there, it’s tempting to hop in the car and hit the beach. But it can be dangerous. It can also be very uncomfortable, as anyone stuck in the M25 traffic in 30° weather can attest. So how can you enjoy a summer of driving in a heatwave?
By following our advice, of course! Here are our 10 summer driving tips for surviving the 2018 heatwave!
#1 Top Up Your Screen Wash!
Dry weather in summer can cause havoc to your windscreen. Dust, dead insects and dirt isn’t washed away by Britain’s usually reliable rain and can build up on your windscreen. Your screen wash is your best defence against a stained windscreen, but be careful!
In a nightmare scenario, you activate your screen wash, nothing comes out and you end up spreading a paste of dirt and dead bugs all over your screen with your wipers. If that happens on the motorway at 70mph, you’re in trouble! Before you go out, make sure your screen wash is topped up!
It isn’t just your car that needs to be topped up. In summer, make sure you take water out with you, no matter how long you’re driving. You never know what might happen and the last thing you want is to be dehydrated and stuck in traffic.
Research reveals that more than 60% of UK drivers fail to recognise major symptoms of dehydration, including slower reaction times, loss of focus and muscle cramps. These symptoms put you and others at serious risk. Pick up an insulated water bottle in order to keep fresh, cool water in your car at all times. If you have passengers, make sure you have enough for them too!
#3 Protect Your Vision
Sun visors aren’t just for storing maps and checking your hair. They are very useful for protecting you against glare. When the sun’s out and you’re driving, glare isn’t just frustrating, it’s dangerous. UV light reflected off of spillages in the road can cause serious damage to your vision.
If you’re driving this summer, make sure you have a decent pair of well fitting sunglasses to protect your eyes. Given how easy it can be to lose or forget your sunglasses, keep a special pair in the glove box that you only use in the car. That way, your eyes are always protected.
#4 Store Some Shade
Imagine the scenario: You’re driving down the motorway and you break down. It’s the height of summer and the breakdown truck won’t be with you for two hours. You’re stuck outside your car in the blazing heat without a hat. By the time the breakdown truck arrives if you haven’t melted into a puddle of ooze, you’re almost certainly going to be sunburnt.
Keep a parasol or large umbrella in the boot of your car in case you break down. You can’t safely stay in or near your car when you break down, so an umbrella or at the very least a wide brimmed hat can provide essential shade for stranded drivers this summer.
#5 Check Your Tyres
Tyre blowouts are much more common in hotter weather. Tyres with existing damage that are under inflated will become even more aggravated in higher temperatures, which increases the likelihood of blowouts and punctures. Drive safer this summer by checking to make sure your tyres are in good condition.
Caravans have tyres too and they aren’t used as often as a car’s tyres. Check your caravan tyres before driving this summer and replace tyres displaying signs of cracking in the sidewall or tread grooves.
#6 Avoid Starting Fires
The 2018 summer heatwave is causing the trees and grass on the verges of the road to turn dry and yellow. This turns the roadside from green lushness to a serious fire hazard. Cigarettes are the most obvious causes of fire, but clear plastic from bottles or food packaging can focus the sunlight and cause fires.
When you’re driving in summer, don’t litter. Hang on to your rubbish and dispose of it safely in a bin. If you’re smoking and driving, use an ash tray.
#7 Check Your Coolant
When you’re stuck in traffic or driving for long periods of time in the summer heat, your coolant is going to be working overtime. Summer holidays mean traffic jams, with caravans and holiday makers clogging up the roads. Avoid making your engine overheat by making sure your coolant and other engine fluids are all topped up and that you’re carrying extra on board.
#8 Take A Break
Taking a break from summer driving will give you and your car a chance to cool down. It will also help you stay awake during those epic summer holiday drives. Take a twenty minute break every three hours to remain energised and enjoy some time out of a sweaty, stuffy car.
#9 Park Smart
No one likes an overheated car. There is nothing worse than returning to a car that’s been left out in the sun for hours and hours. The seat and steering wheel sizzle your skin and the air has that awful “boiled in a sweaty sock” feeling.
You can avoid this fate this summer by parking smart. Look for shady patches and park there. Also, remember that shadows move through the day. If you’re parking next to a building, try and park on the east side. This will give you the longest amount of time in the shade as possible.
Invest in a sun screen for your windscreen. This will reflect the heat away from your interior, helping fight the rising summer temperatures. If you don’t fancy spending money on a sun screen, here’s a simple tip to avoid having to handle a hot steering wheel: When you’ve parked, turn the wheel 180° so that the top is in the shade. Then, when you come back to the car, you might be able to actually touch your steering wheel!
#10 Be Wary Of The Weather
Obviously the heat is dangerous, but summer can also bring very sudden summer storms. These can transform a sun-baked road into a river in moments. Sudden changes in temperature and weather can cause other problems too, so make sure you check your forecasts and stay prepared.
Car Maintenance in Summer
Things to worry about:
Tyres. As mentioned, high temperatures and under-inflation stretch the rubber and makes weak spots weaker. This leads to a higher potential for punctures and blowouts.
Fluid levels. Keep them topped up!
Overheating. Don’t ignore your warning lights and be prepared for overheating if you’re stuck in traffic.
Things to not worry about:
Less power. If your car is performing worse this summer, don’t worry. Hot air is more dense than cool air, so it moves more slowly through your car’s system. This can cause reduced performance.
Leaking water under your car. This is caused by condensed water from the air conditioning system.
Roaring from the engine bay. This is the cooling fan and a sign that you might want to take it easy for a while.