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How To Protect Your Car and Enjoy Safe Summer Driving

Driving in summer
Enjoy Summer Driving

With scorching temperatures across the UK, our behaviour is set to change by actually spending time in our gardens (or someone else's), wearing flip flops and showing more flesh than normal. We might also be set to spend more time on the road by taking spontaneous trips to the seaside to enjoy the sun on a beach, for example.

Taking advantage of the hot weather might be a priority for most of us, but we should also take some time to consider the implication that the heat is going to have on our cars and driving; after all, hot weather means experiencing a hot car.

We've put together some helpful tips of how you can take care or your car and everyone in it during the summer months.


What Can I Do To Protect My Car From The Sun?

The answer is a lot. We've managed to come up with at least seven things that you can do as a novice car owner that will help to keep you and your car in good shape in the face of hot temperatures.

1. Regularly Check All Fluids

Your car has a number of liquids that it uses constantly in order to keep all of the mechanical parts working properly. These include coolant fluid, oil, brake fluid, power-steering fluid and windscreen washer fluid.

During hotter weather, it is imperative that your car has enough coolant fluid and oil. The coolant fluid, along with a system of pumps, fans and hoses will ensure that your engine doesn't overheat. This is a very real problem if you are unfortunate enough to get stuck in traffic on a hot day, because there won't be any air flowing across the engine to help keep it cool.

Check oil level
Check Your Oil Level

Oil to a car is like blood to a human. If there isn't enough oil to keep engine parts running smoothly, the engine can seize, effectively causing your car to die unless you want to foot the very expensive repair bill. Ideally, you should change your oil at least every 5,000 miles. In between oil changes, particularly before you set off on any long journeys, you should check your oil level by pulling out the dipstick and adding more oil if necessary.

As for the other fluids, these should also be checked at the same time as the coolant fluid and oil to ensure the smooth running of your car.

Tyre Tread 20p Trick
Check Your Tyre Tread

2. Check Tyre Pressure

Tyres are one of the most overlooked parts of a car which is staggering when you consider how important it is to keep them in good condition. Hotter conditions can cause tyre pressures to change, forcing them to become underinflated. An underinflated tyre bulges outward putting pressure on the sidewalls of the tyre. Hot roads and underinflated tyres can be a dangerous combination leading to blowouts.

You can check the pressure of your tyres using a hand pressure gauge. If they are below the figure on your owner's manual, simply put some more air in them until they reach the correct pressure. Don't forget to check your spare tyre in the unfortunate event you might need it.

As well as keeping an eye on tyre pressure, you should also check the tread depth using the 20p trick. Legally, your tyres must have at least a 1.6mm tread depth, although the recommended tread depth is 3mm. To check the tread depth on your tyres, simply take a 20p coin and insert it into the grooves on your tyre. If you can't see the outer band on the coin, then that tyre is above the legal limit.

3. Regular Washing

Take advantage of the good weather by spending some time soaping up and hosing down your car. This will help to maintain excellent visibility and prevent the build up of grime.

The sun's rays are powerful and will cause damage to your paintwork if it isn't properly protected. Finishing off every clean with a good-quality wax will help to maintain the integrity of your paintwork and make your car shine in the sun.

4. Check Your Windscreen Wipers

If you have spent the time washing your car, then the last thing you want is your windscreen wipers creating horrible streaks because they are becoming worn out.

Man washing car
Give Your Car a Good Clean

Windscreen wipers that do their job properly are important no matter what the weather is, and even though it's summer, we need to remember that we live in the UK, so there is always a high probability of rain. Changing your windscreen wipers can be a fiddly job, so you might want to leave it to a professional to do.

Windscreen Sun Protector
Windscreen Sun Protector

5. Park In The Shade

Obviously, it's not always possible to do this, but parking in the shade will help to keep your car cool when the sun is blazing down. This makes the temperature more bearable for when you need to get back in it and also helps all of the mechanical components.

6. Use A Sun Protector

They might not be the most attractive things in the world, but they will certainly help to keep the inside of your car cooler than it would be without one. Shading the interior from the sun can also help to keep your seats in better shape, especially if they are leather.

7. Keep Sunglasses At Hand

All cars come with sun visors to block the sun from view, but they also partially block your field of vision and sometimes don't even cover the glare. To combat this, you should always keep a pair of sunglasses in your car so that you can drive safely wherever the sun is shining.

Should I Book My Car In To A Garage?

​We have detailed above all of the things that you can personally do on a regular basis to keep your car safe, protected and comfortable to use in hotter temperatures. In addition, it is advisable to book your car into your dealership or a trusted mechanic to check your coolant system, air conditioning system, engine, battery and brakes.

Ensuring that you have enough coolant fluid is important, but there are a number of additional, more technical checks on the coolant system as a whole that should be carried out by a qualified professional.

It is advisable to have your radiator flushed and new coolant added at least every two years. While you're having your radiator flushed, your belts can also be checked for cracks and damages.

Typically, people are more worried about their car batteries in the cold winter conditions when early morning jumpstarts are being performed.

However, summer heat can cause the battery to overcharge by speeding up the chemical reaction inside it. It can also evaporate the internal battery fluid. As a result, it is important to keep your battery clean by detaching the cables and wiping off the terminals.

While your car is being checked over to deal with the increased temperature, you should have your brake linings checked. If you aren't planning to book your car in, there are some signs that you should look out for that will tell you if your brakes need replacing.

Radiator flushing
Radiator Flushing

Your brake pedal will become either soft and mushy or very hard and resistant. You may notice that your brake pedal is resting too high or too low, or you could notice loud and constant scraping and grinding sounds.

Air Conditioning button
Air Conditioning Button

If you're confident that your car is mechanically safe to drive, you might want to book it in to ensure that the air conditioning system is working to its full potential.

Imagine getting caught in a traffic jam on a hot summer's day without a little cool air to bring you some sort of relief.

Normally you can tell if there is something wrong with your air conditioning if it is unable to generate or maintain temperature 10 degrees Celsius below the ambient temperature outside.

The most common cause for an air conditioning system not working properly is a low level of refrigerant which could be caused by a leak somewhere in the system.

Modern air conditioning systems can be complicated, so it is always best to have a professional take a look at it.