It’s that time of year when we’re thinking about days out to the countryside, coast or taking the family away for a few days.
Whether you’re staying in the UK, or driving to the airport, before taking your car onto the roads this summer, IAM RoadSmart’s Head of Driving & Riding Standards Richard Gladman, has a few top tips to ensuring your journey is a smooth one.
As temperatures soar, we all adapt our clothes and homes to ensure we stay cool. However, too often we forget that heat can also play havoc with our cars and bikes. Pre-pandemic, Highways England expect 700 more breakdowns per week through the summer months. The year before we saw nearly 50,000 breakdowns throughout July and into the first weekend of September.
Of course Richard always recommends drivers carry out the POWDERY Check – Petrol (or any fuel), Oil, Water, Damage, Electrics, Rubber and Yourself before each journey; Some of those checks are even more essential when the thermometer begins to rise, if you have a long way to go, you’ll be away for a few days, or its essential you catch a flight or sea crossing.
Says Richard: “You’d be amazed how many people don’t fill up with fuel, or fully-charge their batteries, before setting out. But think about it beforehand, because not only will it prevent you running out of fuel and potentially stuck on a roasting motorway embankment, but it will also save you a fortune because filling up with any fuel on a motorway is currently so expensive.”
And he adds: “Heat makes your oil less viscous, which means it might not lubricate your engine parts as thoroughly as they need if there’s not enough; and the hot weather makes your cooling system work much harder, so top up your radiator and check for any leaks. And don’t forget to check your screen washer reserves - there’s nothing worse than trying to drive with a screen covered in squashed flies – particularly if you’re driving directly into the sun.”
Hot tarmac is also much harder on your tyres, says Richard: “Any problems with your tyres can be exacerbated because the hot road causes more friction. Keep tyres inflated to the right pressure, check tread depth and for nicks and cuts. And don’t forget the other rubber components of your car engine. Check the rubber belt that drives your alternator and sometimes your air conditioning and water pump; if it’s perished or damaged the heat could cause it to snap.”
Of course, no matter how careful you are, cars sometimes do break down, so be prepared with a few extras in the boot in case you need to wait for help: Bottles of water will keep you and your passengers hydrated; light snacks will keep everyone’s energy levels up too. And perhaps keep a large umbrella in the car – not for rain, but to keep the sun off your head.
Richard added: “If your car is particularly old, or you know it can unreliable, it might be a good idea to have your usual mechanic check it over. It could save you money, and potentially your holiday!”