• Safe Summer Driving Guide

Safe Summer Driving Guide

Get into gear and make the hot weather a breeze

As Britain basks in the summer sunshine and we make the most of the hot weather, have you considered how the high temperatures can cause problems when driving?

The heat can play havoc with your car, so it’s important to perform regular checks and book in for a summer service. But it’s not just the maintenance of your vehicle to consider; roads can become more congested during the summer months and slow moving traffic can cause uninvited delays too.

It’s important to be prepared for every eventuality, so you can ensure a safe summer drive, no matter where your destination. Accelerate your journey to a breezy ride by following our handy hints and top tips when it comes to safe summer driving…     

Eliminate Breakdown Risks

There’s never a good time for your car to breakdown, but quite often this can be avoided. Regular checks and vehicle maintenance is a good starting point. Even if you’re not a dab-hand under the bonnet, there are still some simple checks you can perform to ensure your vehicle is performing at its best. 

Battery failure is the most common cause of a car breakdown as high temperatures can shorten the life length. Check all of the fluid levels in your car, such as coolant, oil and screen wash, so that your vehicle isn’t running on empty and at risk of overheating.  

TOP TIP: Invest in a multimeter machine to check the amount of charge left in your car battery. Prices start from as little as £6 on Amazon and it could be the best investment you’ve ever made!

Prepare for Punctures

Did you know that hot weather can increase the pressure in your tyres? Heat can cause a puncture or blow out when you least expect it, putting you and your passengers in danger. 

Prepare for punctures by regularly checking your tyres to ensure they meet the recommended tyre pressure during the summer months. Consult your vehicle’s manufacturer guide to check the PSI - usually around 35 PSI.

TOP TIP: Keep your tyres slightly underinflated during hot spells, rather than overinflate them. 

But what about the condition of your tyres? The tread depth is equally important as the pressure, as worn tyres can cause you to skid and lose control of a vehicle - especially when roads are dry and dusty, or wet and slippery.

In the UK, by law, tyre tread depth needs to be a minimum of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters section of each tyre.

TOP TIP: Try the 20p test to ensure your tyre tread depth meets the legal requirement. Simply insert a 20p coin into the tyre tread grooves and if you can’t see the outer band of the coin, then they are within the legal limit.      

Stay Cool by Servicing Your Air-Con

Many motorists rely on their car’s air conditioning system to keep them cool during hot spells. But, did you know that every year your vehicle’s air-con unit will gradually weaken? It’s estimated that about 10% of your air-con’s refrigerant gas is lost every year due to wear and tear.

This is why it’s important to book your car in for a summer service each year, and ask your garage to perform an air-con regas every two to three years. Your hot and sweaty self will thank you for it!

TOP TIP: We know it sounds silly, but make sure to keep your windows closed whilst the air-con in your car is on - not only will it stay cooler inside the cabin, but it will ensure it doesn’t have to work twice as hard. 

Wear Sunglasses to Avoid Glare

We know it sounds obvious to wear sunglasses during sunny drives, but you’ll be surprised how many people either forget, or choose not to wear sunglasses while behind the wheel. 

Although it’s not a legal requirement in the UK, wearing sunglasses can make a huge difference during your journey. The sun can cause a huge amount of glare through your windscreen which can disorientate even the most experienced drivers. 

Did you know that glare from the sun causes a huge amount of accidents in the UK every year? Figures from the Department for Transport show that over 2,000 road-based incidents are caused by drivers distracted from the sun - don’t become a statistic!  

TOP TIP: Just after sunrise and before sunset is the trickiest time of day, as the sun shines directly into drivers’ eyes. Keep a spare pair of sunglasses in your car which will come in handy when you need them the most. 

Stay Safe by Applying Sunscreen

This may sound like a bit of a strange tip while you’re driving, but you’ll be surprised to learn how important this is - especially if you drive for a living or sit in a vehicle for long periods of time. 

Although it’s more difficult to get sunburnt behind the wheel, on hot days, the sun’s rays are strong enough to penetrate the glass onto any visible skin behind the windows. Leaning your elbow out of an open window can also cause ‘trucker’s arm’ - which is never a good look!

TOP TIP: If you have exposed skin, such as bare arms during driving, then take the time to apply sunscreen before you head out on the road.  

Help Out Your Hay Fever

Hay fever is a common problem in the UK and sufferers will know just how frustrating it can be during the summer months. A bad bout of hay fever can leave you feeling a bit worse for wear, so it’s important to avoid driving during heightened spells. 

We know this isn’t always practical, but you should never put yourself or other road users at risk. It’s difficult at the best of times to stifle a sneeze whilst driving, let alone two or three every few minutes! If you’re taking medication to help your hay fever, make sure it is non-drowsy and never get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you’re unsure. 

TOP TIP: Keep windows closed to reduce pollen intake, have a pack of tissues handy, and clean the inside of your car regularly to eliminate any pollen or dust that may cause problems while you drive.   

Stamp Out Smoking During Driving

Smoking while driving is never a great idea, but it can be even more of a problem in the summer. Smokers tend to throw their cigarettes out of the car window, which during heat waves can unknowingly become a fire hazard. 

Grass verges get extremely dry in hot spells, providing the perfect environment for a fire. This puts the surrounding area and other motorists in danger and causes an otherwise avoidable call-out for the emergency fire service. 

TOP TIP: Our most obvious tip is don’t smoke while driving, but if you can’t go without, instead park up and dispose of your cigarette in a safe manner. Why not avoid the temptation altogether by chewing nicotine gum during your journeys instead.        

Know How to Navigate Tractors and Slow Moving Traffic

If you live in a rural area, tractors are a common sight during the summer months. Being stuck behind one can be frustrating, so the temptation to overtake is huge, even when it may not be safe to do so. 

Most tractor drivers usually pull-over in a layby where appropriate, allowing traffic to pass safely. It’s worth bearing in mind that not all tractor drivers will be aware of your presence behind them; it may be that they are in a sound-proofed cabin, are towing noisy machinery, or are wearing ear defenders. 

TOP TIP: Tractors (especially older models) don’t always have brake or indicator lights unless it’s dark, so always keep your distance to avoid sudden braking and only overtake if it’s clear and safe to do so. 

Don’t Cause Parking Problems

The hot and sunny weather means that roads tend to be busier during the summer months as people head to scenic areas, beaches and tourist attractions. Your favourite walking spot may become busier than usual, or your planned day out is hindered by lack of parking. 

When you’ve been looking forward to a trip with friends or family but there’s nowhere to park, it’s tempting to find alternative solutions - even at the risk of others. If you’re heading to the countryside, then avoid temptation to park on roadside verges, or in front of field gates. 

Your parking choices may cause problems for other drivers and block entry to farmer’s fields - and you don’t want to upset a farmer!

TOP TIP: Instead of making a rash decision and trying to park as close as possible, find a suitable place to pull-over and use Google maps or a dedicated parking app for alternative solutions.    

Take Your Time

Knowing that the roads are going to be busier during the summer months - especially during hot spells and weekends - it’s important to plan ahead. Your usual 20 minute journey into town may take 30 minutes instead - have you allowed the extra time?

Rushing and running late can cause accidents on the roads as the temptation to speed is all too inviting. Research by the RAC shows that an extra nine million cars in the UK hit the roads during the summer holidays - that’s quite an increase.

TOP TIP: As a general rule of thumb, why not leave 10 minutes earlier during summer holidays and weekends, while adding an extra hour for longer journeys, such as staycations.  

Summer Servicing at Wilsons Epsom  

A summer service is an essential part of any vehicle’s upkeep, not only ensuring it’s safe for you to drive, but providing the necessary ongoing maintenance so it performs as its best.

Here at Wilsons Epsom, our manufacturer approved servicing means we only ever work with genuine replacement parts and the latest diagnostic equipment. Our expert technicians are trained to deal with all types of servicing needs, and we also provide MOT tests too. 

Head over to the Service page of our website to find out more and take a look at our fixed-price low-cost Service Plans that start from as little as £13.99 per month.

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Transport For London

Cars need to meet minimum emission standards when travelling in the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) or the daily charge must be paid.

Minimum emission standards

Petrol: Euro 4
Diesel: Euro 6

The ULEZ will be enforced based on the declared emissions of the vehicle rather than the age. However:

Information from Transport For London

Check this car on the TFL website before purchasing: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle/

All our vehicles are subject to an Admin Fee. Our Admin Fee covers any additional administration needed during your transaction, including a thorough provenance check (HPI Check). The admin fee also includes the cost to fully valet, register and, if necessary, MOT your vehicle (if less than 6 months left of current MOT).

Our administration fee is a variable fee which covers the additional administration needed when transacting with different categories of customers as specified. Retail Customers £199.00 - (Private buyers - NOT an owner, partner or director of a new/used vehicle sales company). Retail Customers using a finance broker outside our official panel of lenders paying funds direct to Wilsons Epsom - £399.00. All fees are inclusive of VAT.