With Britain basking in the middle of a heatwave, insurer 1st Central, says motorists are sitting ducks when it comes to driving in extreme hot weather.
This summer, in what meteorologists predict could be the hottest summer since 1976, 1st Central is urging drivers to be more cautious on the road and check their cars first before they set off.
|More than two million drivers (5 per cent) are likely to get in a tricky situation with the heat damaging their tyres, yet three fifths (62 per cent) don’t bother to check if their tyres are in a good condition before setting off.
Four fifths of drivers (84 per cent) don’t check their car batteries in the summer despite running the risk of the water evaporating, leading the acid to corrode the plates of the car.
|Motorcyclists have also been warned by IAMRoadSmart not to cut corners on safety in the current hot spell.
Tempting as it may be to do away with leathers, gloves and boots, the advanced training body says there are lightweight alternatives and even some helmets can be set to ventilate wearers.
Seven in ten motorists (69 per cent) will also forget to check their oil levels which is essential to keeping the car cool in the heat.
The research also revealed half of drivers (49 per cent) think they’re taking precautions by parking in the shade, forgetting the fact that the sun will move throughout the day!
Andy James, UK CEO at 1st Central (right) said, “Many drivers are aware that they should take extra precautions in the winter but fail to do the same in extreme heat.
“To ensure a safe drive it is essential they inspect their cars before setting off on the road. By practising our tips, motorists can reduce the risk of breaking down or having an accident, and simply get on with what matters.”
1st Central tips for driving in a heatwave
Inspect your tyres
With soaring temperatures, the air inside your tyres will expand and affect the pressure which could lead to a blowout. The heat can cause the rubber of a tyre to disintegrate too, so be sure to check the condition of your tyres – damage, wearing and pressure – especially before heading out on a long road trip.
Top up your engine fluids
As the temperature begins to soar, so does the temperature of the fluids inside your engine. Oil and coolant are essential for cooling down your engine and keeping it running when it’s being pushed to the extreme. Check your levels before embarking on a journey and top up when needed.
Park in the shade to protect your car battery
Car batteries are made of acid and water and the water will evaporate faster than the acid in hot temperatures, leaving lead plates bare. Where possible, park your car in the shade to prevent levels from depleting.
Check your wipers
Warm weather brings bugs out in force and you can guarantee your windscreen will be covered in them. Make sure your wipers don’t need renewing and your washer fluid is topped up, so you can wipe off any pesky bug remnants.
Don’t forget your shades
A pair of sunnies are a key of any summer driving kit, as they’ll reduce glare and make it easier to see hazards, signs and lights. If you do opt for a fashionable pair, don’t go for blue lenses as they can make amber and green lights look almost interchangeable, causing a problem at traffic lights.
Watch out for existing chips or cracks in your windscreen
If you have any chips or cracks in your windscreen, the intense heat and direct sunlight can make these worse. Although it is rare that we experience sub-Saharan temperatures in the UK, when we do the heat causes the glass to expand and contract, fracturing the windscreen or distorting the shape of the glass. To avoid this from happening, just like how you will protect your car battery, park your car in the shade.
Pack refreshing drinks in your car, not the boot
It’s always a good idea to pack drinks in your car – not in the boot. This will keep you refreshed and make sure you’re not too hot and drained to be concentrating on the roads. If driving with kids you should be especially careful when out in hot weather, particularly if your car doesn’t have air conditioning. Bring a cool box with some icy treats and could drinks, and make sure the kids are wearing loose clothing to stop them overheating.
Remember your emergency kit
As with any long car journey you should always remember to travel with a well-stocked emergency kit, especially in extreme weather conditions. Many minor car issues can be fixed with the tools within these, saving you having to call out for breakdown assistance.
Invest in a sun shade
There is nothing worse than stepping in to a sweltering car or burning your hands at the wheel. Why not purchase a reflective sun shade for the windshield which will help prevent the car from getting too hot. Sun shades can also be purchased for passenger seats to protect children from the glare of on long journeys.
Do not leave children or pets in the car
Even on short trips and pit stops remember to take children and pets with you instead of leaving them in the car. Although this is something you shouldn’t do, regardless of the weather condition, it is particularly dangerous to leave children and pets in cars in extreme heat as temperatures can treble, especially if your car is not in the shade.