Many of us take extra care of our cars as winter approaches, often packing a winter car emergency kit. However, summer can be just as hard on our vehicles with engine failure, tyre blow outs, and even brake fade caused by the summer heat.
At this time of year, traffic jams can also be a problem! With an increase in people choosing to staycation due to the current travel chaos, there will be even more vehicles on the roads doing long journeys. The likelihood of traffic jams and motor breakdowns will be higher than normal.
Add to the mix the fact that many people now work from home, some vehicles haven’t been used for longer distances, which can also affect the number of summer breakdowns – and recovery time. Recovery operators aren’t legally allowed to use a hard shoulder to bypass traffic, and so they can also be stuck in traffic jams while trying to get to you to provide assistance.
There are a few things you can do to prevent a summer breakdown before it happens.
What happens to your car when the weather gets hot?
According to Green Flag, a car’s interior can reach almost double the temperature of the exterior within 30 minutes. If the outside temperature is just 20 degrees, your interior could be reach a tropical 39 degrees!
The RAC states that, during a heatwave, they often experience a ‘20% increase in callouts, and this can even get as high as 30% in coastal areas’
Water, coolants and even fuel can evaporate more quickly in the heat. Rubber can disintegrate in heat, so you are more likely to experience a blow-out.
Five most common summer breakdowns
#1 Get your battery checked at a garage
Batteries are the biggest cause of summer breakdowns. Not only can the stop/start activity in traffic seriously drain your battery, but the heat itself can accelerate corrosion.
Check that your battery is in full working order before you head off. You can get it tested free of charge in most garages.
#2 Check your tyres
Check your tyres and tyre pressures. You’ll need them to be correctly inflated, especially if you are carrying a heavier load than normal, such as suitcases and sports gear. While you are inflating them, check that they haven’t perished over the winter months and there are no visible cracks or tears in the rubber.
Make sure you’ve got a spare tyre or a tyre repair kit in the boot. If you have got an existing tyre problem, your summer journey is likely to bring that to the fore.
#3 Top up your oil, coolant – and screen wash
Make sure your oil is topped up – an engine running in heat needs all the lubrication it can get. Frequent oil changes are beneficial to your car’s engine and performance.
Keep your eye on your cars temperature gauge and top up with coolant, your car won’t be able to run without it.
And finally, ensure you carry a bottle of screen wash. The summer heat causes dust and bugs to stick to your windscreen as you drive, which will require more screen wash than in the winter months.
#4 Check your brakes
Overheated brakes are referred to as ‘fading’. Fading can increase stopping distance or result in brake failure. Working brakes are critical, so make sure that your brake pads, disks and brake fluid levels are as they should be.
#5 Keep your tank full
Summer breakdowns are very common, and one of the main culprits is running out of fuel. Keep an eye on that gauge – fuel evaporates faster in a hot car than a cold one so your fuel consumption will be higher! Ensure that you have enough fuel in the tank to get you to your destination and, when you arrive, try to park in a shaded area.
What to do if my car breaks down this summer
Before you go, download the app! Most breakdown services, including the RAC and AA now provide an app which contains a GPS signal. This means that if you aren’t exactly sure where you are, roadside assistance can find you based on your signal. You can view their arrival in real time which can feel reassuring for many.
In the unfortunate event that you do break down, move off the road or pull over to the left-hand side of the road/hard shoulder. Put your hazard lights on and leave the car through the nearside doors (the doors that are furthest from the road).
Take what you need and move away to a safe space away from the car and road, over a barrier if there is one, and then call for breakdown assistance.
Just like ensuring you pack your emergency winter supplies, it’s important to carry water and food in the car during the summer months, so that you can stay hydrated and energised.
Many car insurance policies come with the option to ‘bolt on’ roadside assistance. If you aren’t sure whether your car insurance policy contains this or would like to switch to a policy that does, contact one of our local branches who would be happy to help you.