It’s not often that the UK gets to experience high heats, but when heatwaves do roll around, it’s not just us as humans that suffer. Our vehicles can also go through a lot during hotter days, with strain on the engine, tyres, battery and more, which could lead to long-term damage. Understanding the effect the heat can have and how to protect your vehicle can help you prepare for the next upcoming heatwave.
Just as it’s advised to check your oil regularly and before long journeys, it’s important to increase how often you’re checking your oil when temperatures soar. Your engine is going to heat up a lot faster with the sun beating down and will need all the lubrication that it can get to ensure things run smoothly and without fault. In some older vehicles with older motor oil types, it’s even advised to use thicker oil in summer, and thinner oil in winter, however, more modern vehicles often don’t need this providing that oil is changed at regular intervals. Check your handbook for advice on your vehicle and how often you should be changing the oil.
Just as the engine needs more lubricant during hot weather, it’s vital to keep your coolant levels topped up too. A lack of or limited coolant can kill your engine completely, wearing down your radiator and the relevant hoses which can ultimately cause overheating and leaks. If the engine’s temperature was to get too high, it could cause lasting and irreparable damage that may require full replacement to solve. Keep checking your coolant and keep it topped up each time you head out in your car to keep things running smoothly.
For those with air conditioning in their cars, the system is likely to take a beating in the summer months. Even when it’s not scorching hot outside, the slightest discomfort and we’re likely to reach for the AC dial but with additional use comes additional strain and more potential for something to go wrong. Having your air conditioning serviced regularly, particularly before or after a hot summer, will ensure that things continue to stay cool and functioning as they should.
Leaving any battery out in the sun can be risky, but car batteries in particular can be impacted by the heat. The vibration of driving coupled by the heat can cause high discharge rates which ultimately means heat buildup and a worn down or damaged battery. The best thing you can do in this situation is to ensure that the battery is fully secured in the vehicle to reduce vibration. Check the fittings and surrounding area to ensure it’s fully secure, and make sure to carry a set of jumper cables with you in the case of a breakdown due to battery overheating. If you’re unsure on the health of your car’s battery, book in with your nearest garage for a health check or full vehicle servicing.
Outside of the engine or under the hood, the heat can also wreak havoc on the rest of your vehicle, including the tyres, paint and upholstery depending on the design of your car:
In the summer, particularly where the temperature changes often, your tyre pressure can change and fluctuate, so it’s important to keep an eye on this regularly. The risk of blowout is always higher on hot ground regardless, but with insufficient tyre pressure, the risk increases and you could be put in a hazardous situation not only for you, but for others on the road. Keep an eye on pressure and for general wear and tear so you can be sure that they are always in top condition when you drive in hot weather.
- Paint And Upholstery
While it’s rare that the UK will reach temperatures high enough to cause damage to the paintwork on your car or to your upholstery, it’s still important to make sure you are taking care of your vehicle to keep it in top shape. Prolonged exposure to the direct sunlight can fade or crack paint or leather/faux leather upholstery not only on your seats, but across the car’s dashboard. Similarly, a high internal heat could cause issues with the plastic work inside the car, from cracking to fading. Keep a window cover on your car where possible to reduce the heat inside the car, and park the vehicle out of the sunlight where possible to eradicate the risk.