Making long journeys in hot weather can sometimes be quite stressful, especially if you get stuck in a long traffic queue. If you are travelling with children make sure you take plenty of things to keep them amused, fed and watered just in case your journey takes longer than expected! In addition to this, there are several things you can do to prepare for a journey on a hot summers day that can help you avoid potential problems.
What things to check before you go
Hot temperatures will actually make the pressure in your tyres increase slightly, the changes should be minimal and won't affect the handling unduly but always make sure your tyre pressures are correct before you leave.
Make sure you have enough oil in your car. Oil not only lubricates your engine but it actually helps to keep it cool.
Check your coolant levels. Coolant is of course vitally important in hot weather because if your engine overheats it can do a lot of damage and may even write it off.
Keep a large bottle of water safely stored perhaps in the boot of the vehicle in which you are travelling and familiarise yourself with the 'normal' operating temperature of your engine by checking the temperature gauge for the first 10 miles or so of your journey. If you do get stuck in a traffic queue, keep an eye on the temperature gauge for signs of overheating.
If your car does begin to overheat then find somewhere safe to pull over and let the car cool down for at least half an hour before even thinking about topping up your radiator.
The water in your cooling system gets extremely hot and will also be under pressure so never attempt to top it up straight away. If you can't pull over straight away opening the windows and turning on the heater may help dissipate some of the heat while you look for somewhere to stop.
Remember that your engines radiator relies on air flow (ie. the car moving!) in order to cool the engine, so if you are stuck in a queue and not moving for any length of time it might be worth turning off your engine while you are waiting for the traffic to start moving again.
Making a long journey on a hot day can be very tiring. Make sure you drink plenty of water and don't become dehydrated and keep a cool bag in the car with enough bottled water and cold drinks to keep you going for a couple of hours. Allow extra time in your journey for rest breaks and if you start to feel drowsy then opening the windows and getting some fresh air may help.
Using the Air Conditioning system
If you have air conditioning in your car remember that it will not work effectively if you have any windows open. Also if you are in a traffic jam don't forget that using your air conditioning will make you use up to 20% more fuel so if you are running low, it might be idea to turn it off and open the windows instead.
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