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Summer Driving Tips to help you keep cool behind the wheel

Rising temperatures and extra holiday traffic can put extra demand on your journeys at this time of year. However, a little planning and preparation can go a long way to help keep your stress levels under control and your vehicle moving.

In this short guide we will explore some of the most common issues that drivers will face this summer and look at ways to work around them or avoid them entirely.

Avoiding Breakdowns

Overheating

There are several common issues that cause car engines to overheat, including cooling system leaks, insufficient coolant levels, warn hoses, blocked passageways and faulty fans, radiators and water pumps.

These underlying issues will be worsened at higher temperatures and especially in slow moving traffic, which is why overheating is a common cause of breakdowns throughout the summer months.

Spotting a problem early on could save you a lot of hassle later down the line and there are three things you can do to identify potential issues:

  • Check the coolant levels regularly
  • Look out for white staining on coolant hoses
  • Check the cooling fan – this can be checked by running the car to normal temperature and allowing the engine to idle for 10 minutes – the cooling fan should cut in automatically.

Punctures

Any existing damage to your tyres will be aggravated by high temperatures. Under-inflation can make this problem worse, because the additional friction causes heat, which can ultimately lead to punctures and blow-outs.

It is therefore important to:

  • Check tyre conditions
  • Check tyre pressures, adjusting for extra load if required
  • Check trailer and caravan tyres for signs of cracking and replace if necessary

Lost Keys and Broken Fobs

Spending more time outdoors can make it easier for car keys to become lost or stolen, so take extra care whilst out and about.

Beach trips in particular can be especially hazardous for keys and fobs, as they can become buried in the sand or be taken for a swim in the sea without the owner realising.

Most vehicles will however have an alternative entry-method should your key fob cease to work, so be sure to check your manual.


Stay Alert and Reduce Tiredness

High temperatures can make it difficult to concentrate, so be sure to follow these tips when making long journeys to avoid fatigue:

  • The AA recommends breaking up a 3 hour journey with a 20 minute rest stop; and to
  • Take a 20 minute break every 2 hours on longer journeys
  • Make sure to avoid large meals and alcohol consumption before driving
  • If feeling tired, drink coffee or take a short 15 minute nap

Beware of loose chippings

Most road maintenance and repairs are carried out during the summer and one of the most common methods of maintenance nowadays is surface dressing - where loose chippings are laid on top of tar.

However, loose chippings can cause damage to vehicles including chipped windscreens and headlights and paintwork damage. To reduce this risk, be sure to observe temporary speed limits and keep a reasonable distance behind the car in front.


Glare

Sun glare is a major cause of accidents during the summer, because the skies are usually clearer. The worst times for glare are during the early morning and early evening, when the sun is low in the sky.

Avoid the effects of glare by following these tips:

  • Keep a pair of clean and unscratched sunglasses in the car
  • Keep your windscreen clean (inside and out)
  • Keep your windscreen wash topped up
  • Replace worn and damaged wiper blades

Hay fever

Frequent sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose and itchy throat can play havoc with your concentration and interfere with your driving.

If you are one of the 10 million people in the UK that suffers with hay fever, you will be familiar with these symptoms and know that they can be particularly bad during the summer months. However, here is some useful advice:

  • Choose hay fever medication that does not cause drowsiness
  • Check your pollen filter and replace if necessary
  • Keep windows and air vents closed
  • Keep tissues handy
  • Reduce your speed and keep your distance
  • Wear sunglasses in bright sunlight
  • Clean the interior and vacuum carpets to remove dust
  • If your symptoms are particularly bad, get somebody else to drive

Did you know?
Sneezing while travelling at 70mph can cause you to lose your vision for up to 100 metres.


Caravans

The Caravan Club reports that there are 1.7 million caravans in the UK and the summertime sees huge numbers take to the roads, en route to their various holiday destinations throughout Britain and Western Europe.

Due to their weight and instability however, caravans cannot be towed as fast as other vehicles travel on the roads, which means that traffic can become held up behind them. This is a source of frustration for many motorists and may cause drivers to attempt risky overtaking manoeuvres, which can be particularly hazardous on single carriageways where there is the added danger of oncoming traffic.

If you find yourself stuck behind a caravan, try to be patient and wait for a safe opportunity to overtake.

Be aware that caravans are not able to pull out of junctions and change lanes quickly, so may decide to push into traffic in order to get make progress, so always be aware and leave plenty of space. Also, take extra care when passing caravans on the motorway, especially in windy conditions.


Tractors

Tractors don't have to be fitted with brake or indicator lights unless used at night so in daylight be prepared for them to stop or turn without warning.

Before overtaking a tractor, make sure you leave enough room to get past; tractors can be longer than they first appear and many are fitted with loaders at the front.


Conserving Fuel

Windows and Sunroofs

Open windows can cause drag, particularly on faster roads and motorways, so if your vehicle has no air conditioning, try using the air vents first.

Air Conditioning

To avoid wasting energy, make sure that doors and windows are closed while using air conditioning.

Once your vehicle has reached a comfortable temperature, turning the air conditioning down or off will also help to conserve fuel.

Extra Luggage

If you need to carry extra luggage on your car roof, make sure to load it as low as possible on the roof rack and cover in plastic sheeting to reduce drag, alternatively use a purpose built roof box.

Removing a roof box when it is not required will also help you to conserve fuel.

Tyre Pressures

If carrying extra passengers or heavy luggage, adjusting your tyre pressures will also help to reduce unnecessary friction and use less petrol.

Check your manual for the manufacturer’s recommended pressures.


Looking to save time and money on your car insurance?
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The Call Wiser guide to Holiday Car Hire

Hiring a car abroad can be an essential part of many holidays, providing a convenient means of getting to your destination, getting out and about and exploring the local area.

To make sure that you’re not caught out this summer, Call Wiser has prepared this useful guide to holiday car hire. Read more...


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