Road TripsDriving

Hot Cars! Top tips for driving when temperatures soar.

Published: 06/02/2024

We all love warm summer weather. We especially love those carefree road trips to rivers, lakes and seasides. The freedom of the open road, music blasting and happy kids in the back. But sometimes, it just gets too hot! Driving in the heat brings its own challenges. There are a number of important things to consider when driving in the searing heat of a hot, hot day. So, while we may not get too many of those blistering sunny days, we should be prepared for what effect they have on driver and passenger alike. Here are some top tips for motoring in the heat.


Hot Cars

Air conditioning obviously comes into its own in hot weather. The symbols for air conditioning will vary from car to car, but generally, even if designs differ, there is a similarity for the air conditioning mode. The symbol of two arrows on your dashboard is the air conditioning itself and this is where to start when cooling everyone in the car. Keep the windows up as you don’t really need to cool the entire world. Once the vehicle is at a pleasant interior temperature, change to the symbol of pic of a car with a looped arrow. This indicates that you are recirculating the air inside the car. The air conditioning can need attention and will need to have the filters cleaned from time to time. This can be done at your regular car service, or if you are worried about it, pop in to us here are the garage and arrange to have them checked. Monitoring the air filters every 10,000-15,000 miles is the best way to make sure they won’t get clogged up and ruin your road trip.


Windscreen Fluid

Driving in the summer can often mean a windscreen with an ugly greasy smearing of flies and insects. A full windscreen fluid bottle is a necessity if you want to be able to see clearly.

Park in the shade

...but if your car has to parked under direct sunlight, use a windshield sunshade to ease the heat building up in that car for when you are travelling again.


Overheated Engines

...are more common when the temperatures soar. The hotter weather, along with low coolant level, the possible failing of a water pump, a broken thermostat, or an issue with the cooling system can see the temperature gauge climbing higher. If you notice that acrid ‘engine smell’ and have warning lights flashing an overheated engine, or if you see steam rising from the bonnet, pull over to the side of the road. Park for a while to allow the car to cool down. Don’t open the bonnet till everything has cooled. When they are cold, you can take a peek at the coolant levels. This might well be your issue. Coolant levels are addressed as part of a regular car service.


Sun Glare

There is not a motorist in the land who hasn’t looked that bit cooler with the addition of a pair of sunglasses. Think Tom Cruise in Top Gun. But those shades are not just accessories! Sun glare can result in drivers being temporarily dazzled or blinded by the intensity and brightness of the sun. Glare is at its highest when going east in the morning and West in the evening, but wear sunglasses for eye protection and to reduce sun glare.


Electric Cars and the Heat

Electric cars are generally newer motors, so you have a full range of accessories to make driving in the heat more pleasant. Using the aircon in your car is an obvious way to keep cool. However, be aware that the hot weather can reduce the range of your electric car by around 17%, and its normal for battery range to be less than you might usually enjoy in moderate weather. Plan your charging stops with this in mind, and more especially if you are going on a long trip. Take into account if your journey might mean joining heavy traffic heading to holiday destinations. Charge your battery to only 80% as this will pro long your battery life, but more importantly, for summer time, a battery fully charged can overheat.


Passengers and the Heat

Passengers, and in particular children, can heat up very quickly while traveling on a hot summer day. Make sure there is access to a cool breeze, either from the window or the AC system. Ensure that there is enough water for everyone and encourage the wee ones to drink a lot to avoid dehydration. Some cars have leather seats that can be very uncomfortable on a hot day. A blanket or towel might make this an easier journey for your passengers. A cold wet cloth, wrapped in a plastic bag, will be welcome for cooling down and bring lots of water or juice for rehydration. Park out of the full glare of the sun and never leave your children or a pet in a hot car, even if you are only ‘popping’ into the shop for a second to two. Just 10 minutes in a hot car, will increase the risk of heatstroke.

Hot Drivers

Motoring in the sweltering heat may take its toll on the driver more than anyone else. Rehydration and cooling rules apply to the driver too. There is more road rage (statistically speaking ) in hot weather, so its good to keep a cool head. The hottest time of a summer day is between 11am and 2 or 3pm and avoiding the roads at that time of day may prevent you from getting caught in a heat trap. Take a hint from our European counterparts and enjoy a wee siesta in the afternoon. Wear sunscreen. The rays of the sun are amplified by the glass and even if hanging your arm out of the window, there is danger of getting a one sided drivers tan, or a nasty burn.


Hot Wheels

Tyres get hot as you drive and as the pressure causes the air inside the tyre to expand. It’s a good idea to check that your tyre pressure is not set above the manufacturer recommended levels in hot weather. If you have any cause for concern, contact your local garage or tyre shop and have the pressures checked before you head off.

Read article - Can Hot Weather Affect Your Tyres?


Emergency Supplies

Keep some emergency supplies in your car regardless of the season, but especially for extreme weather conditions. A first aid kit, rain gear, a torch and an emergency triangle are useful and essential items. In hot weather add lots of water, some snacks, sunscreen, and some insect repellent.

It is surprising to note that there are more car breakdowns in the summer than in the winter months. As many as 20% more call outs for break down assistance are reported during hot weather. Most of these calls are for overheating cars. Don’t be a statistic! If you have any concerns about tyres, coolant or even your windscreen wiper blades, here at Peter Hanley Motors, we are on hand to get you driving safely and cooly right through the summer.

Peter Hanley Motors is a registered
member of The Society of the Irish
Motor Industry

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