10 Tips To Protect Your Car During A Heatwave
With a record-breaking heatwave taking place across the UK, many people are relaxing and enjoying the sunshine.
All the while, scorching temperatures are creating havoc across the board, from melted tarmac at the RAF Cranwell base to fire outbreaks along railway lines in London. Heat has the potential to cause chaos when it comes to engineering, and cars are no exception.
To help prevent heat damage to your vehicle, there are a few routine maintenance tasks that will keep your car in tip-top shape.
1. Check The Air Conditioning
With a Level 3 Amber alert for hot weather and potential danger to health on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to check your AC.
While it may be enough to keep the windows open for short trips, if you’re doing any kind of long commute, air conditioning is the best option to stay cool and should be used regularly to prevent gas leaks.
If you own a second-hand car, you may find that it requires regassing. Most cars require regassing once every two years, so make sure that your car has been recently serviced before you take it out on the road.
2. Check The Battery
In temperatures pushing 30°C, the last thing anybody wants is to be stranded by the roadside.
Battery failure is the most common cause of breakdowns, and is often caused by the evaporation of electrolytes in batteries that are not properly sealed, made worse by extreme weather. Make sure you regularly check your battery’s fluid levels, and routinely top-up as required to prevent breakdowns.
If you have sealed batteries, you won’t have to worry about this as much. Just keep regularly checking your battery for signs of acid corrosion and leaks as normal.
3. Top Up Engine Fluids
Similarly, engine fluids may also evaporate in hot weather. Coolant is particularly important for keeping your engine cool during a heat wave, but you should also be keeping an eye on transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield wiper fluid.
Check your coolant level regularly to prevent your engine from overheating when the sun’s out.
4. Tyre Pressures
Hot air leads to an increase in air pressure, which contributes to a greater risk of tyre punctures. If you regularly over-inflate your tyres, they will also suﬀer more wear and tear that may result in a burst tyre.
Make sure you routinely check your tyre pressure when your tyres are cold, and be aware of any wear to the tread or other problems that could lead to a puncture.
5. Ensure Good Visibility
Dust, pollen, and insect build-up on your windscreen during the summer months can make visibility diﬃcult, particularly if you are driving long distances or live in an area with high air pollution.
Make sure you keep your windscreen and lights clean to ensure better visibility, and replace your windscreen wipers if they are showing signs of wear and tear, as poorly maintained wipers may result in an MOT failure.
6. Check Your Belt
Drivebelts are essential for running your alternator, air con compressor, and steering pumps, and the warm weather puts extra pressure on this engine component.
It should be visually obvious if there are any problems with your drive belt, but remember to also check the cooling fan by starting the engine for 5 minutes and listening for any activity.
7. Protect Your Paintwork
Waxing your car annually can help to protect your paintwork against UV damage and marks, saving you money in resprays. Getting your car resprayed can be an expensive fix, so it’s better to prevent the damage from occurring in the first place.
8. Take Out The Trash!
If you often leave rubbish in your car, it’s time to clean up your act!
Hot weather can melt plastic and make food rot faster, which may damage your car’s interior. Give your car a good clean before you take it out – your wallet (and any passengers) will thank you!
9. Keep It Cool
UV rays can damage your paintwork and leather car seat covers, heat your interior, and contribute to the degradation of plastic elements. The heat can also cause fluids to evaporate more quickly and aﬀect the overall functioning of your vehicle.
Try to park in the shade where possible, or if this is not an option, use window shades when your car is stationary.
If your car begins to overheat, it will be indicated on the temperature gauge. In this instance, you should always pull over straight away and call for assistance as this may be a serious engine problem that needs to be looked at.
10. Stay Up To Date With Servicing
The last thing anybody wants is to be stranded on the motorway halfway to their holiday destination. Get your car serviced and MOT’ed in advance of going away so you don’t get caught out!