EDDIE CATZ BLOG

Top Tips for Driving in the Summer

Top Tips for Driving in the Summer

We are one week into the summer holidays.  Parents up and down the country are in fits of panic as they consider how on earth they are going to entertain their broods over the next few weeks.  Some families will be jetting off abroad, some will be heading to our array of British resorts, while others will be planning a series of day trips.

Car travel will inevitably be on the cards.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that winter is the only time of the year that you need to prepare your car for.  Summertime carries a whole new set of issues that you do not want to fall foul of, particularly with your little ones in the car!

Let us guide you through some of the essential checks you need to make before your family takes to the roads this summer.

Air Conditioning

The last thing you need when you’re well into your journey is to be stuck, bumper to bumper on the M6 in the sweltering heat with a packed-up air conditioning system.  As well as being highly unpleasant having to have the windows down on the fumy motorway while you’re cooking in your own sweat, it could actually be dangerous for the smaller people in the back of the car.

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Children’s bodies do not cope well in the heat.  They are less able to regulate their temperatures and can overheat quickly.  So it is advisable to get your air conditioning checked before you leave.

In the UK we can go through months at a time of never using our car air conditioning systems, so they are often unmonitored for faults until they are needed.  For this reason, it is advisable that you test out your air conditioning intermittently throughout the year.  There are signs to look out for that it may be on the verge of failing.  Any unusual sounds, or an unpleasant odour when it’s switched on are pretty concrete clues that all may not be well.

If you’re worried or unsure, head over to your local trusted garage for further advice before you leave on your summer holidays.

Tyres

Tyres are often overlooked, despite the fact that they are the only contact your car has with the road.  It is so important to ensure that tiny surface area of rubber is in impeccable condition before you head out on any journey, short or long, hot or cold.

Heat can exacerbate any damage or weak spots to your tyres, thus increasing the potential for punctures and blow-outs.  Aside from the massive pain of having to change a puncture at the roadside with a toddler and pre-schooler in tow, the dangers of punctures or blow-outs happening at speed do not bear thinking about.

Before you set off, check that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure.  Under-inflated tyres will cause more friction with the road, and therefore more heat.  If you’re not sure how to check their pressure or condition, give your garage a ring – most good garages would be delighted to help you free of charge.

Overheating

The traffic has ground to an inevitable halt on the motorway, and there is almost certainly a car on the hard-shoulder, bonnet up and a small group huddled over the steaming hot engine.  Not the way you wanted to start your summer holiday.  The only person impressed with this situation is the 1-year old, who is trying to make a beeline for the traffic.  Yikes.

Don’t let this be you.  Car engines can overheat when they are stuck in traffic and they have insufficient coolant on board.  There is a reservoir under the bonnet which tells you how much coolant you have, and the maximum level it should be.

You also need to ensure that your fan is working well.  Without a working fan, your engine will quickly overheat, particularly in traffic when no air is rushing past the engine.  To check it, run your car until it has reached normal running temperate.  Once it has, leave the car running idle for between five to ten minutes, at which point the fan should kick in.

Screen Wash

The summer months seem to invite swarms of flying insects to congregate mid-air over the roads.  Before you know it, you’ve accumulated a thick layer of their squished little bodies on your windscreen, seriously hampering your visibility.

The only way to get rid of them is frequent washing of your screen.  So as well as topping up on your screen wash before you leave, try to keep some spare in your boot.

Take Regular Breaks

Having to sing ‘Wheels on the Bus’ on repeat is draining enough without the oppressive summer heat taking its toll on your alertness.

The draining heat can leave you feeling sleepy and fatigued which doesn’t make for safe driving.  Before setting out, allow yourself plenty of time to take breaks, not only for yourself, but for the kids to stretch their legs and get their circulation going.

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Children can get restless very quickly, and shouldn’t be expected to sit for extended periods of time without being able to move.  They will also thank you with chirpy, happy moods if you allow them enough time out of the car.

What would you add to our list of summer driving tips?

Fiona Chick is a south London mum, wife and blogger, and writes for Delta Autos' Blog. Delta Autos & Wimbledon Tyres are a thriving family-run garage in the heart of Merton. They provide a friendly, efficient and comprehensive service, covering every aspect of vehicle maintenance and repair - whilst always maintaining superb value for money.

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