driving in hot climates

28 Jul Top Tips for Driving in Hot Climates

This simple checklist will prepare you and your car for driving in hot climates.

 

In the words of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air “It’s (summer summer) summer time”, which for some will mean packing up the car and heading to the South of France, while for others it means the South of Ireland. Whatever the destination, driving in hot climates can be fraught with frayed tempers and possible breakdowns. But don’t worry, Micks Garage has you covered.

Plan Ahead

When driving in hot climates it is always worthwhile planning ahead. Whatever the country, summer time inevitably means more people on the road and therefore more congestion. Do you have a way to get out of it, either to bypass the traffic or take some quiet time to let the build-up subside? A plan will especially help when there are children involved. After hours on the road in muggy conditions strapped into a child seat they are liable to get grumpy, which, along with being tiresome, can also prove distracting. Much better for them to be distracted than you.

Use shades

Summer is the one time when it is acceptable to break out those vintage Ray Ban Aviators so get them off your head and onto your face. Sunglasses are an essential part of your summer driving kit, but only the ‘right’ kind. Ensure the lenses on your glasses are polarised as they reduce glare and forget your ‘oh so fashionable’ blue lenses. Studies have shown that they can cause confusion at traffic lights with some drivers unable to differentiate between yellow (amber) and green.

It also may be worthwhile investing in a sun shield to place on your windscreen while parked up. If you have kids you may already have them on the side windows, but the windshield is, generally speaking, the largest expanse of glass in your car and we all know the feeling of returning to the car only to open the doors and be met with a wall of oppressive heat that the combined powers of air conditioning and open windows take ages to combat. Prevention is better than cure.

Visit the pharmacy

As Baz Luhrman said “Wear sunscreen.” Let’s face it, we are Irish and tend to burn in the sun – best to at least wait until you are lying on a beach with a Pina Colada in hand before turning lobster red. While in the pharmacy remember to stock up on any allergy tablets you or your family needs. Many know the anguish of frequent sneezing, runny eyes and congestion brought on by hay fever and dust allergies but few think about how they affect our driving ability. Make sure your car’s cabin filter is clean and that the medication you are taking does not make you drowsy.

Change windscreen wipers

The hope is that it does not rain on your holidays but that does not mean you can ignore your windscreen wipers.  During the summer months your windscreen is likely to be battered by flies and other insects and you will not clear that detritus from your windscreen without proper functioning wipers and a fully topped bottle of washer fluid.

Top up fluids

In addition to topping up your washer bottle it is also advisable to top up the rest of your car’s fluids before driving in hot climates – or better yet getting a full service done. While most of us enjoy the sight of the thermometer rising, our engines do not. Forced to suck in suffocating warm air they are pushed to the extremes, which is where fresh oil and coolant come in. If you are stuck in traffic keep an eye on your temperature gauge and be prepared to pull over should it head towards the red to allow the engine to cool down. This is also a good time to top yourself up with cooling fluids and maybe a cheeky ice-cream.

Check your tyres

Warm air also does weird things to your tyres – or more specifically the air within them. As temperatures rise the air inside your tyres begins to expand, which can, if your tyres are not in the best condition, lead to a blowout – a scary proposition when travelling at motorway speeds. Check for damage to the tyres or uneven wearing, especially on the inside shoulders and make sure the pressures are correct.

Carry the essentials

Along with the sunscreen, medication and sunglasses already mentioned remember to carry plenty of fluids with you in the car. Not in the boot, but in the cabin itself where they are close to hand. If you have an icebox or cooled glovebox use them (you may have to clean out the glovebox first). There is nothing worse than taking a swig of sun-warmed water when you were hoping for ice cold. Also remember to pack some treats, not just for the kids but for the adults too. Spending hours sitting in the car can be draining and that is without taking the temperature into consideration. The sugar rush provided by a pack of sweets may be just what is needed for the last push to the hotel!

Last but not least remember your AA cover. We may not be able to help with cranky kids and dehydrated adults but for a tyre blowout, overheating engine or a tank of fuel should you run out we can help.

Featured Image Credit: William Warby on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 licence

Barry Aldworth
AldworthB@theaa.ie