Expert advice: heatwave hints to help your car survive hot weather

Top up your fluids before hitting the road (Picture © Prestone)

Top up your fluids before hitting the road (Picture © Prestone)

The weather drives the breakdown business and the heat of summer provides its own very special challenges for cars and technicians alike. 

The nature of breakdowns changes quite noticeably: we’re far more likely to be able to get a car going in cold weather than we are when it gets hot. The reason is that hot weather puts various crucial components through a severe work out. In addition to that, people drive more when the weather is good. More people on the road means more traffic jams, and more cars that might not be prepared to be stationary in sweltering summer sun.

The result tends to be breakdowns that either require a lot of work and money to fix or increasingly, breakdowns caused by electrical failure with the fault in such an inaccessible place the technician can’t get to it. To minimise your chances of becoming a summer breakdown victim, follow these five simple steps.

Heatwave hints: Have a service

It’s a good idea to have your car serviced regularly and to its manufacturer’s guidelines. If it hasn’t been, nip down to your local fast fit centre and ask them to have a look at your brakes. They’re your lifeline on the road.

Heatwave hints: Check your engine oil

Make sure the level is beyond the minimum point on the dip stick. If your car hasn’t been serviced in the past 12 months or 10,000 miles, it’s worth investing £40 or £50 in having the oil changed and a new oil filter at the very least.

Heatwave hints: Check your water

An engine needs to be kept cool so check that the fluid level in the ‘header’ tank under the bonnet is between the maximum and minimum markers. If it needs topping up, make sure the engine has cooled down before you undo the cap.

Sun and a smeared screen make seeing out difficult (Picture © Holts)

Sun and a smeared screen make seeing out difficult (Picture © Holts)

Heatwave hints: Pump up your tyres

According to tyre maker Continental, most blow outs can be traced back to under-inflated tyres. That’s because tyres that don’t have enough air in them generate more friction and run hotter. Research shows a tyre that is 0.4 bar under pressure can lose up to a quarter of its life expectancy, so at the very least pumping them up will save you money.

Heatwave hints: Top up your screen wash

“At the moment I have an army of bugs that has come to grief on the front of my car. Ensure you’ve got sufficient screen wash to clear them without smearing so you can see out properly.”

Green Flag Nick ReidNick Reid is a fellow of the Institute of the Motor Industry and head of automotive technology at Direct Line Group

18 comments on “Expert advice: heatwave hints to help your car survive hot weather

  1. Aid Fuel Oils 22/08/2014 2:35 PM

    Great post Nick, i think a lot of drivers get so worried about the harsh conditions of the winter that they completely fail to realise that the summer has its own set off issues too! – Caroline

  2. Hannah Todd 09/06/2016 7:40 AM

    Thank you for your post ,as you said we think Summer wont have problems but of course it can as much as winter.

  3. Jane Ellis 10/06/2016 9:09 AM

    Thank you for the tips
    I really didn’t realise summer driving can cause so many potential problems

  4. tom 10/06/2016 2:36 PM

    good summer tips thanks

  5. David Holdsworth 10/06/2016 11:54 PM

    Great tip on the tyre pressure regarding blow outs

    • Steve Burrows 18/06/2016 6:38 PM

      How do they know the blow out was caused by the incorrect tyre pressure ,
      when the tyre is flat after the blow out ?

  6. Michael Davies 11/06/2016 7:36 AM

    A very important check that Nick has not mentioned is the cooling fan. These can go through the winter without a fault being evident. Run the engine until the temp gauge shows normal temperature and allow the car to tick over on the drive for about a further 20 minutes. By this time the fan should have started to run. If it doesn’t the thermostat is probably faulty.The most likely time you will get a problem is when your stuck in a traffic jam on a hot summer day.For obvious reasons you keep your hands away from the fan when your doing this check.

  7. Robert McLoughlin 11/06/2016 1:27 PM

    Good advice ignored by so many.

  8. Brian Avenell 12/06/2016 7:41 AM

    Great ideas I have my car serviced every yesr plus che cked over every six months besides watching oil and tyres rehularly

  9. Cliff 12/06/2016 11:47 AM

    useful reminders to avoid breakdown during hot weather, I do have my car fully serviced
    in the spring which takes care of all of these tips, I also check my tyres every two weeks to maintain correct running pressure. Thanks again

  10. Michael Stuart Thompson 12/06/2016 4:45 PM

    Thanks for your advice which to any car owner should be routine.. Been a member for four years, never needed to call you… MIKE Thompson Perthshire

  11. Lynda Warrington 12/06/2016 9:43 PM

    Thanks for the good post Nick.

  12. Bob Caldwell 14/06/2016 4:27 PM

    A timely reminder to check tyre pressures. Modern tyres are so reliable that we tend to forget them entirely until the rare occasion when something quite avoidable goes wrong!

  13. Gerald Lane 15/06/2016 6:01 AM

    Thankyou for such useful hints.

  14. harvey 15/06/2016 10:10 AM

    every responsible driver/motorist should already know what you have so plainly explained but the motoring world is full of morons that will not take advice so they need your services!

  15. Kalpesh Patel 16/06/2016 5:22 PM

    Excellent,Really helpful Tipps to Drivers who always keeps full fitted car for him self and other who usually use it.

  16. Christine Clatke 20/06/2016 5:22 PM

    Thank you very much for all the very useful info very interesting. My car is serviced regularly and i keep a close on it.

    • sleafordfred 21/06/2016 5:58 PM

      keeping your car serviced is great if you know and trust who is doing the work
      I recently bought a car that was main dealer serviced all its one owner life
      and it was the biggest load of rubbish I had ever driven week after I bought it all started falling apart and going wrong so trust is as important as the service

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