Hot Weather Driving Tips: Staying Cool Behind the Wheel

Driving in hot weather

Within the UK we have recently experienced some hot weather and it got us thinking… are we all aware of the best precautions and preparations for a successful scorching drive?

Driving in hot weather can be a challenging and often uncomfortable experience. The sweltering heat, glaring sun, and scorching pavement can take a toll on both you and your vehicle. However, with the proper precautions and knowledge, you can make your drives safer and more enjoyable. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore a range of tips and tricks to help you stay cool, comfortable, and safe when driving in hot weather conditions.

The first thing is making sure your vehicle is properly prepared for the hot weather. Before you hit the road, it’s essential to ensure your vehicle is ready to handle the heat. Here are some of the things you might want to check:

1. The Cooling System

Your vehicle’s cooling system is your first line of defense against overheating. Before embarking on an extended journey, it’s essential to verify that the engine coolant levels are adequate. If your vehicle needs a refill, make sure to do so only after the engine has had sufficient time to cool down completely. Additionally, check if there are any leaks as well as make sure the temperature gauge in your vehicle is working correctly.

2. The Air Conditioning

A properly functioning air conditioning (A/C) system is crucial during hot weather. Have your A/C system checked for any issues, including refrigerant leaks, clogged filters, or worn-out belts. A well-maintained A/C system not only keeps you comfortable but also helps you stay focused on the road.

3. The Oil

The engine oil plays a crucial role in maintaining proper engine temperature. If the temperature rises excessively, the oil levels can decrease. To ensure everything runs smoothly, it’s essential to monitor these levels regularly. To check, simply extract the dipstick, wipe it clean, reinsert it, and then pull it out again. Compare the oil level to the maximum and minimum markers on the dipstick. For safety precautions, only conduct this examination when the engine has been switched off for at least 10 minutes.

4. The Tyres

Hot pavements can wreak havoc on your tyres. According to the AA, there is an increased risk of tyre blowouts during exceptionally hot temperatures. They recommend that drivers inspect their tyre pressures prior to embarking on their trips.

Check tyre pressures in hot weather

The next thing to consider is how you are going to be able to stay cool inside the vehicle, prior to and during the journey.

1. Park in the Shade

Whenever possible, park your vehicle in the shade. If shade is scarce, use nearby objects like buildings or trees to block the sun. There are many benefits to parking in the shade including the obvious that the car will remain cooler meaning it reduces the energy needed to cool people and vehicles but also that extends the life of vehicles.

2. Use Your Windows

When you first get into your hot car, roll down all the windows to allow the hot air to escape.

3. Cover Your Seats

For leather or vinyl seats, consider draping a towel or blanket over them while the car is parked to safeguard against burns and excessive heat buildup.

4. Schedule Your Travel

Whenever feasible, aim to minimise driving during the peak daytime heat and plan your journeys for the early morning or late evening when temperatures are more moderate.

5. Stay Hydrated

Hot weather can lead to dehydration, impairing your focus and reaction time. Always have a supply of water in your vehicle and take regular sips, especially on long trips.

6. Dress Comfortably

Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing to stay comfortable. Avoid dark colors that absorb heat. Consider using a moisture-wicking fabric to help keep sweat away from your skin.

Additionally, it is important to consider ways to stay safe during the hot weather when driving on the roads. The Met Office reported that in 2006 heat damage to road surfaces was reported from Cornwall to Cumbria, with the cost of repairs estimated at £3.6m in Oxfordshire alone. When the condition of the roads and the conditions in general are not the same as normal you should be more alert when driving on the roads as accidents are bound to increase. Here are some tips on how to stay safe and alert during the hot weather driving.

1. Maintain a Safe Following Distance

Hot weather we have seen can change the condition of the roads therefore the best thing you can do is to increase your following distance to give yourself more time to react.

2. Watch for Signs of Overheating

Pay attention to your vehicle’s temperature gauge. If it starts creeping into the danger zone, pull over immediately, turn off the engine, and allow it to cool down before continuing.

3. Keep an Emergency Kit

Always have an emergency kit in your vehicle, including water, non-perishable snacks, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, a hand held fan or battery-powered fan, and a hat in case you breakdown in a non-shaded area and tools like jumper cables and a spare tyre.

4. Watch for Pedestrians and Cyclists

Hot weather often means more people walking or cycling. Be extra cautious at crossings and intersections, and always give the right of way to pedestrians. Additionally, be careful when overtaking cyclists and make sure to give them the correct amount of space.

5. Don’t Leave Children or Pets in the Car

Never leave children or pets unattended in a parked car, even for a few minutes. The interior temperature can skyrocket, leading to heatstroke or even death.

Dog on the back seat of a car

Hot weather driving may present its challenges, but armed with the right preparation and safe driving habits, you can breeze through the hot weather driving comfortably and securely. Remember to maintain your vehicle, stay cool inside, and always stay hydrated. By following the right tips and tricks, such as all those raised in this article, you can make your hot weather drives more enjoyable and reduce the risk of accidents or vehicle breakdowns. Stay safe on the road, and enjoy your travels!