Summer Driving Checklist

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 of on-the-job experience and specialist automotive expertise. We believe in sharing this knowledge with our valued customers and as such have created a series of informative online resources. The following guide will equip you with all you need to know in order to drive safely and comfortably this summer.

1. How the summer season impacts your driving

During the summer months many motorists take to the roads for fun days out and family holidays. However, the combination of more cars on the road and elevated temperatures often results in a higher percentage of road traffic accidents. According to a recent survey, 23% of automotive crashes are weather related. Moreover, the highest number of fatal automotive crashes occur in the summer months of July and August. This is due to the fact that the heightened temperature can impair your driving ability causing you to become tired, lethargic and lose focus; all of which increase your chances of being involved in an automotive incident. Additionally, the sun’s rays shining on your car’s windscreen can cause glare thus hindering your visibility and that of other drivers. Furthermore, the increased heat can damage the structural integrity of the roads which in turn causes road traffic accidents. Fortunately, there are several measures which drivers can put into place to reduce the risk of automotive accidents occurring during the summer months. This guide will demonstrate how you can prepare yourself and your car to be safe on the roads during the summertime.

2.Summer car supplies

In order to ensure you and your passengers are cool, comfortable and safe on the roads during the summertime, listed below are several essential summer car supplies. By stocking your vehicle with these products you will be prepared for long car journeys as well as minimising your chances of being involved in an automotive incident:

  • A first aid kit
  • High visibility jackets and a warning triangle
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Spare bulbs
  • Empty fuel can
  • Additional engine oil, water and chemical coolant
  • Mobile phone charger ad adaptor
  • Bottled drinks and food supplies
  • Up to date road atlas or satellite navigation device
  • Your owners manual for your vehicle
  • 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 essential summer car supplies.

3.How to prevent your car from overheating

There are combination of factors which can cause your car to overheat, amongst which include the heightened temperature during the summer months, a reduced amount of coolant in your engine, as well as long journeys and congested traffic. If your car overheats, not only is this disruptive to your daily routine but it can also substantially damage your car. Therefore, listed below are several tips on how to prevent your car from overheating:

  • Replace your car battery if it is over three years old,
  • Arrange to have your cooling system examined by a mechanic every two years,
  • At the beginning of the summer place fresh coolant and water in your radiator. You should not solely use water due to the fact that chemical coolants contain additives which actively prevent rust and corrosion,
  • Every two years have your radiator examined for corrosion,
  • Examine your tyres to see if they are worn or cracked. If so, then replace your tyres immediately to prevent blow-outs as a result of high pavement temperatures during the summer,
  • Always keep a spare gallon of water in your car if you intend to travel a substantial distance,
  • Check that your radiator cap is securely tightened in order to allow your coolant to expand and contract. However, you should never check your radiator cap if your car is already overheating as this could result in serious personal injury.

Unfortunately, if your car has already begun to overheat then you will need to take immediate preventive measures to reduce the amount of internal damage to your vehicle. Listed below are several measures which you can take to avoid further damage to your engine:

  • Pull your car over to the hard shoulder or another safe location and turn off the engine,
  • Wait until your car has cooled down before you open the hood. It is advisable that you wait until your car temperature gauge has turned from hot to cool,
  • Once you have opened the hood check the coolant level in the radiator,
  • Once it is has cooled, open the radiator cap and fill it with coolant. You can use pure water if you do not have any chemical coolant with you, Examine the radiator hoses to see if any of them have been disconnected, blocked or if they have burst.
  • Restart your engine and monitor the temperature gauge as you drive. If the gauge begins to turn from cool to hot then you should immediately pull over and turn off your engine

If your car has overheated and does not cool down, then you should call a mechanic who can repair your vehicle. The Useful Links section of this guide has several links to reputable automotive emergency services companies.

4.How to prepare your car for summer driving

Preparation is key in order to ensure that you travel safely this summertime. Listed below are several measures which you can carry out in order to prepare your car for safe summer driving:

  • Check your tyres regularly: If you regularly inflate your tyres to the sufficient pressure then your vehicle will be able to efficiently handle any manoeuvres. Given that the infrastructure of roads can become unstable during severe heat, then you will need your tyres to function precisely in order to prevent accidents. If you regularly check your tyres then you will notice any worn or cracked parts before severe damage occurs.
  • Check your coolant systems: Check that your radiator cap is tightly fitted and clean out your coolant system of any debris which may have amassed in the radiator or air conditioning condenser. By doing so, your coolant systems will function efficiently during high temperatures and thus prevent your car from overheating.
  • Regularly check your oil and water levels: Check and refill your engine oil and water levels on a monthly basis in order to ensure your vehicle functions consistently throughout the summer.
  • Improve your visibility whilst driving: Before driving this summer you should check that all of your headlights are operating correctly. Moreover, you should examine that your windscreen wipers are working and that your washer-fluid reservoir is full. By doing so you will be able to maintain full visibility whilst you drive in the summer.

5. How to reduce your fuel bills during the summer

During the summer months motorists expend more money on fuel. This is due to the fact that many motorists use their cars to travel on holiday. As a result there is more congested traffic due to more cars travelling on the roads. Moreover, given that fuel prices have been increasing exponentially in recent years, it is essential that you improve your fuel economy during the summer and throughout the rest of the year.

One of the most important things which you can do to reduce your fuel bills is to drive conscientiously and efficiently. If you drive at 55 mph instead of 75mph then you reduce your fuel consumption by 25%. Consequently if you carefully plan your holiday route then you can travel less miles at a lower speed and thus save yourself from unnecessary fuel expenditures.

As well as planning your journey you should also plan what you store in your vehicle. If you remove any unnecessary luggage from your car then you will reduce your vehicle’s overall weight, wind resistance and drag. It is important to make your car as streamlined and lightweight as possible because, by doing so, you will reduce the amount of fuel needed to power it. For instance, you can make your car more streamlined simply by using your vehicle’s flow through ventilation system rather than rolling down your windows. Subsequently, by removing excess baggage from your car and making it more streamlined you can reduce your annual fuel cost by up to 20%.

Furthermore, by maintaining the integral elements of your car’s infrastructure you can substantially reduce your fuel bills. If you frequently check your engine fluids, inflate your tyres and clean out any dirty or blocked filters then you can prevent your car from overheating in hot weather. Subsequently, you can save money on service checks and emergency breakdowns. Moreover, fluids such as oil buffer all of your engine’s mechanical parts. By ensuring your oil levels are always full then your car can continue to function efficiently. These simple yet effective measures could save you up to 4% on your annual fuel bills.

6. Preparing yourself for driving safely during the summer

When preparing your car for driving during the summer you should also consider your own wellbeing. During the summer heat exhaustion is a common ailment for drivers who travel on long car journeys. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, headaches and fainting; all of which can place you at an increased risk of being involved in a road traffic collision. Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to prevent the onset of heat related ailments:

  • It is important to take regular breaks to prevent the onset of fatigue,
  • Pack plenty of water bottles and frequently drink them throughout your journey to rehydrate,
  • Create as cool an environment possible within your vehicle. It is advisable to invest in an air conditioning system or portable fan system,
  • Examine the air vents within your car. If these vents are blocked in any way by debris, then you and your passengers will not receive sufficient air and ventilation.

As well as heat related conditions there are various other summer ailments which can distract you whilst driving and place you at risk of automotive incidents. For instance, hay fever is a condition which affects 27% of drivers. These motorists are distracted by intermittent sneezing fits and itchy, watery eyes which can impair their ability to drive safely. If you suffer from hay fever and feel as if it may be effecting your driving then there are multiple remedies which will alleviate your symptoms and improve your focus whilst driving:

  • Purchase an in-car purifier, ioniser or pollen filter which will clear the air within your car of pollen. The Useful Links section at the end of this guide lists several websites from which you can purchase these devices,
  • Only purchase non-drowsy hay fever medication,
  • Take hay fever medication two weeks in advance of the pollen season in order to pre-emptively combat any symptoms,
  • Check the local pollen count report before driving and plan your journeys accordingly,
  • Dehydration can exacerbate hay fever symptoms so you should keep a bottle of water in the car with you at all times,
  • Keep a box of tissues in the car at all times and place them in an area which is easy to access whilst driving.

7. Useful Links

If you have any further questions regarding summer driving and how to prepare your car for high temperatures 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 high temperatures, where to purchase summer car supplies and how to act if your car should overheat:

• Emergency breakdown services: AA, RAC

• Summer car supplies: Summer car accessories, Car care products, DIY stores

• Automotive overheating causes and solutions: Why your car is overheating, How to stop your car from overheating

• Hay fever remedies for drivers: Driving tips for hay fever sufferers, Hay fever remedies, Pollen filters