Driving In The Heat

At Southern Car Buyers, our team of automotive specialists have over 20 years experience in the used car industry. As a result, we have amassed a wealth on-the-job experience and specialist expertise. We believe in sharing this knowledge with our valued customers and as such have created a series of automotive informative resources. The following guide will equip you with all you need to know in order to drive safely and comfortably during high temperatures.

1.How high temperatures can impact your driving ability

According to recent statistics 18% more fatal accidents occurred between June and August in 2012 than during the cold winter months. There were several contributing factors to these fatal accidents; most of which were the direct result of higher temperatures. For instance, it has been proven that driving during hot weather causes drivers to become tired and less focused. When this lack of concentration is combined with a greater number of drivers on the roads travelling on holiday then ultimately the likelihood of automotive incidents is greater. Consequently, this guide has been created to inform motorists how to safeguard themselves and their passengers from automotive accidents as a result of driving in the heat. By preparing your car for driving in higher temperatures, you can protect yourself and your passengers during the summer months.

2.How to prepare your car for driving in high temperatures

There are several measures which you can put into place which will prepare your car for driving in the heat. Amongst these various measures include:

  • Checking your tyres regularly: If your tyres are regularly maintained and replaced, you equip yourself with improved vehicular handling capabilities. It is worthwhile investigating the recommended inflation level for your specific tyres in order to ensure your tyres are always functioning optimally. By doing so, you can lengthen the lifespan of your tyres, lower your fuel expenditures and reduce your likelihood of being involved in an automotive incident.
  • Examining your coolant and air conditioning systems: Your car will regulate a cool temperature more effectively if you frequently clean and maintain its coolant and air conditioning systems. Therefore, before embarking on a long car journey you should check that your radiator cap is tightly fitted and that all debris has been removed from your car’s radiator or air conditioning condenser. Check that there are no leaks within your coolant system and that there are no broken cooling fans. These simple tasks can prevent your car from becoming overheated whilst you are driving in the heat.
  • Replenishing your oil and water levels: Every month you should examine and refill your engine oil and water levels so that your vehicle functions efficiently in high temperatures.
  • Packing lightly: Do not carry any excess luggage whilst travelling. This is due to the fact that if your car has to carry extra weight then it places more stress on your car battery. If your car battery is highly stressed during hot weather, it can overheat.
  • Testing your sunroof: Before travelling, you should check that your sun roof is working. If not, check to see if you can operate it manually if necessary.
  • Improving your visibility whilst driving: Verify that all of your headlights and windscreen wipers are operating correctly before travelling. It is also advisable to fill up your washer-fluid reservoir so that you can maintain full visibility throughout your car journey. You can also purchase window tints to prevent any glare from the sun hindering your driving capabilities.

3.Driving safety tips whilst on holiday

Whether you intend to drive your family car whilst on holiday, or if you have a caravan you wish to use, there are several precautions which you should consider. By following these automotive best practices, you and your family can enjoy a safe and enjoyable holiday in the summer months:

  • Check your tyre pressure: If you intend to tow a caravan whilst on holiday, you will need to factor in the additional weight which you are towing and moderate your tyre pressure accordingly. Many owners manuals provide information on recommended tyre pressure levels for towing, so it is advisable that you check your particular owners manual and do not exceed the maximum weight capacity for your vehicle.
  • Examine the condition of your caravan: In the same way that you would prepare your car for a long journey, you should also prepare your caravan. Subsequently you should check your caravan’s tyres for worn parts or cracks, as well as inflating them to a sufficient tyre pressure. You should also check your caravan’s brakes, indicators, and headlights. Moreover, you will need to check that your caravan is balanced and that the weight has been distributed according to best caravan practices.
  • Maintain a safe stopping distance between other drivers: If you maintain a safe stopping distance between drivers and stick to the speed limit then you allow yourself the maximum amount of time possible to react to an automotive situation. This stopping time is crucial, especially given that the heat causes drivers to lose focus and become more susceptible to automotive incidents. A three second gap between you and the car in front of you is the recommended national stopping distance.
  • Maintain visibility at all times: Glare from the sun can be dangerous for drivers especially if they are travelling on a busy road. Therefore you should purchase window tints or sunglasses to maintain full visibility at all times.
  • Prepare for summer allergies: Over a quarter of motorists suffer from hay fever. During the heated summer months, hay fever can become an extremely distracting and potentially hazardous ailment for drivers. Consequently, you should equip your car with a pollen in-car purifier, ioniser or pollen filter to efficiently ventilate the car and leave you allergy free!

4.Travelling with children during the heat

If you are travelling on a long car journey with children then there are several factors which you will need to consider. The following practices will ensure you and your children are calm and comfortable during any heated car journey:

  • Choose the correct child car seat: Correctly installed child seats have been proven by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reduce fatal injuries in road traffic collisions by 71 % for infants and 54 % for toddlers. Therefore you should always fit your children into appropriate child car seats before embarking on a long car journey.
  • Take breaks: Pause for regular breaks on long car journeys to enable you and your children to get some fresh air.
  • Food and water: Pack plenty of food and water bottles for your children if you are travelling on a long car journey. It is important that you and your children drink plenty of water to remain hydrated and to prevent the onset of heat exhaustion. When choosing food you should aim for low salt, low sugar products to prevent travel sickness.
  • Provide entertainment:If you are travelling in the car with children then you should provide them with plenty of entertainment to keep them occupied and comfortable throughout your journey. There are several car games you can play as well as supplying your children with story books, computer games or colouring activity books.
  • Parked cars: Never leave your children in a parked car during hot weather. Irrespective of whether the windows are open a stationary car will not supply your children with sufficient air ventilation to keep them cool during the heat.
  • Cool clothing: Ensure your children are dressed in light and loose fitting clothing which will be comfortable throughout a long car journey and which will prevent them from overheating. You could even pack a damp flannel in a container which will keep you and your children cool on a very hot day.

5.Travelling with pets during the heat

A national pet owner survey revealed that 84% of pet owners travel with their pets in automobiles. If you and your family are travelling on holiday and wish to bring along your family pet, you will need to make sure they are cool and comfortable throughout the journey. Pets such as cats and dogs are susceptible to heat stress even on moderately warm days so it is recommended that you adhere to the following measures so that your pets are happy and healthy throughout your holiday:

  • Do not leave your pet in the car: You should never leave your pet in a parked car as a stationary vehicle does not provide sufficient air ventilation to maintain cool temperatures. However, if you are travelling on a ferry with your pet and are not permitted to take your pet out of the car, then you should leave all of the windows open to facilitate maximum airflow as well as providing your pet with plenty of water to drink.
  • Pack sufficient pet supplies: You should pack plenty of pet supplies in preparation for any eventuality. For instance, you should pack a waterproof seat cover, pet hammock and cleaning supplies in case your pet suffers from travel sickness. You should also pack a pet first aid kit which will include; bandages, gauze, swabs, cotton wool and a water bottle amongst others. The Useful Links section at the end of his guide offers several links to websites which sell these pet first aid kits. By packing these supplies, you can cater to your pet’s needs whilst travelling.
  • Secure your pet whilst travelling: Always secure your pet with a pet car seat or vehicle pet harness to prevent your pet from becoming injured during a road traffic collision. Similarly, you should not allow your pet to travel with its head outside of your car window. Although this position may cool down your pet, it also places them at a higher risk of injury from other cars or obstacles.
  • Take regular breaks: Every two hours you should take a break for your pet to walk around and rehydrate. This will prevent your pet suffering from heat exhaustion, dehydration and other heat related ailments.
  • Food and water supplies: Pack plenty of food and water to ensure your dog is replenished and rehydrated throughout your journey.

6.Important car supplies

During high temperatures you should stock your car with essential supplies to keep you cool, comfortable and healthy. Listed below are some of these important car supplies which will prepare you for lengthy car journeys and minimise your chances of being involved in automotive incidents:

  • A first aid kit
  • High visibility jackets and a warning triangle
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Spare bulbs
  • Empty fuel can
  • Additional engine oil and water
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Bottled drinks and snacks
  • Up to date road atlas or satellite navigation device
  • Your owners manual for your car
  • Sunhat and sunscreen if you are driving in a convertible
  • Window tints which block UV rays as well as reducing the heat within the car and limiting glare

All of these products can be purchased at your local garage, DIY store or on various automotive websites. Our Useful Links section at the end of this guide provides several links to stores which stock these hot weather car supplies.

7. Useful Links If you have any further questions regarding driving in the heat and how to prepare your car accordingly then there are a variety of websites which you can visit. These online resources can provide you with relevant advice and support on how to prepare your car for driving during the heat, how to prepare for a journey with children or pets, and where you can purchase essential car supplies: