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Summer car care and driving tips

By David Bonnici, 12 Jan 2021 Car Advice

As the weather warms up it’s time to take a few precautions to protect your car and make driving safer

summer driving

It’s getting hot so make sure you take a few preventative and active measures to make sure both car and driver get through those long, hot days on the road.

Prevention

It’s easier said than done, but get your car serviced before going on any long road trips.

Cool car

On hot days or before going on long drives, check your radiator coolant levels and also check if the cooling fan is working by idling the car after a drive and seeing if it kicks in and then turns off after a short time.

Engine rtemperatire gauge hot

If your car goes through a lot of coolant or the fan doesn’t seem to operate properly take it to a mechanic or radiator specialist – it’ll save you plenty of money.

MORE: How to protect your car from the heat

Cool interior

If the car is stinking hot, turn the air-conditioning on and open the windows a little to force hot air out as you drive. Don’t cool the car by idling it with the air-con on as it’s less effective, wastes fuel and risks overheating your engine - unless of course you drive an electric vehicle.

If you want to cool the car before you drive off, open the driver’s side window and then open and close the passenger door a few times to force warm air out. You’ll look pretty silly, but it works.

MORE: Does air-conditoning affect engine power?

If the weather isn’t too oppressive, drive around with the windows open if travelling at low speed and enjoy the breeze. If driving faster than 80km/h the wind resistance created by having the windows open is uses more fuel than running the air-con.

how to avoid a hot steering wheel

If your steering wheel tends to get very hot, turn it 180 degrees when parking in the sun so when you turn it back the top of the wheel is cooler to touch. Better still use a sunshade when parked in the sun, which will not only keep things cooler, but will protect interior fittings from harsh UV light.

MORE: How hot does it get inside a car in summer?

Tyres

Check your tyres regularly in summer, as the roads become a lot more unkind as they heat up, particularly if they’re underinflated. Ensure they’re pumped up to the correct pressure before you drive in the morning. If you check them when the tyres are hot you won’t have an accurate reading as the air would have expanded. Underinflated tyres will also cost you fuel economy on long drives.

spare tyre

Ensure your spare tyre is inflated and your jack and associated kit is in working order should you need to change a tyre. Carry a rug to kneel on in case you have to change the tyre on a hot roadside.

Fluids

Make sure you check your engine oil, transmission, coolant, brake, power-steering and windshield fluids, especially before a long drive.

See clearly

It’s easy to forget about them when the weather is fine, but don’t wait for a sudden downpour to find out whether your windscreen wipers and washers are in good order.

You should also keep your windows clean, so you’re not trying to see through dirt and sun glare.

MORE: How to keep your windscreen clear in rain

Other things to carry

Among the things to have handy in your car during summer is radiator coolant, window sunshades, drinking water, non-perishable food like muesli bars, a hat and a rain/shade umbrella.

The food and water is especially handy if you have children.

Also make sure you have a charger cable for your phone, so you can call for assistance or use apps such as maps or weather alerts.

Phone charged in car

Plan ahead

Check if there will be any interruptions to your planned routes such as roadworks or summer events such as cycle races or triathlons. Check weather forecasts, which can be subject to quick changes during summer, and take note of places to stop for refreshments.

MORE: How to prepare for a holiday road trip

It’s also a good to have an idea of where service stations are along the route in case there are any early signs of car trouble.

Stay refreshed

Even with air-conditioning on, it’s easy to get fatigued while driving long distances in summer. Dress comfortably, take regular breaks and keep yourself and your passengers hydrated.