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26 Sept 2022

How can I make sure my car is prepared for hot weather?

How can I make sure my car is prepared for hot weather?

Large parts of the UK are set to encounter another spell of very hot weather, with temperatures in some areas expected to reach 35C. The Met Office has already issued an amber warning for extreme temperatures, which will run from Thursday until Sunday.

During higher temperatures, cars do tend to take a beating. So here, we’re going to have a look at some of the checks to make sure that your car can cope with the hot weather.

Check fluids


A car’s fluids are what enable it to keep running smoothly. With warmer weather often putting extra strain on an engine, it’s paramount that fluid levels are kept topped up. Coolant, for instance, is what protects an engine from corrosion and if it runs low could cause your car to overheat, so check that this is all topped up – there’s a reservoir you’ll be able to check under the bonnet – and top it up with the correct liquid if it’s low. Remember, only check this once the engine is cool.

The same goes for oil. You can check this using the car’s dipstick. Remove it, clean it off and return it to the engine. Take it out once more and you’ll be able to read the oil levels via a readout at the bottom of the dipstick. If it’s too low, top it up in small increments (using the correct oil for your car) checking after each time you add more oil.

Windscreen washer fluid


Since we’re under the bonnet anyway, it’s a good time to check that your car has plenty of washer fluid. During the summer months, windscreens can get dustier than normal, so make sure that the washer fluid bottle – usually signified with a blue lid – is filled up. Ensure that you use proper windscreen washer fluid, too, rather than just water.

Tyres


Warm temperatures can cause the pressures in your tyres to increase, so it’s worth checking them. Likewise, having under-inflated tyres can hike up fuel consumption and cause your car to use more petrol or diesel.

You can check them by using a tyre pressure gauge, or by visiting an air compressor at a garage forecourt. Refer to your vehicle’s handbook (or look behind the fuel filler cap) to find out the right pressures and adjust them appropriately. Remember, you may need to change the pressures if you’re planning on fully loading the car, too.

Make sure you check the tread depths, too. The legal minimum in the UK is 1.6mm – though it’s advised to change them well before this – so analyse this by using a tyre tread depth gauge, or insert a 20p coin into the grooves. The outer band of the coin should be covered by the tyre. If it isn’t they’ll need replacing.

Air conditioning


If you’ve got a car with air conditioning, you’ll know how much of a difference it can make on a hot day. If it isn’t blowing as ice-cold as usual, you may want to think about taking it to a garage or mechanic to have it re-gassed. This is one of the most common reasons for an underperforming air-con system and just requires the system to be refilled with coolant.

If your car’s cabin is really warm after it’s been stood for a while, then you could try this trick. Open both windows on one side of the vehicle, then ‘fan’ a door on the opposite side. This will push the hot air out through the windows and allow your air conditioning to cool the car more effectively.

Try not to park in direct sunlight


If you’re planning on leaving your car in one place for a little while, then it’s a good idea to try and park up in the shade or away from direct sunlight. The sun’s rays can damage interior plastics and rubber, so try and aim for a shady space if you’re thinking of leaving your car for an extended period of time during the middle of the day.

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