Cool runnings: How the heat can affect your car

Following the thunderstorms at the tail end of last week, the Met Office has predicted that temperatures across the UK are set to soar for the next few days.

We all know how the cold can have a significant effect on our cars; winter tyres are sold specifically for the cold season, we know to adjust our driving accordingly and we all make sure to carry a can of de-icer just in case of emergency.

What a lot of people don’t realise, however, is that increasing temperatures can affect your vehicle just as badly as falling temperatures.

For example, temperatures in the South-East of the country are expected to rise as high as 32C on Thursday and Friday. At that temperature, it can become hot enough inside your car to bake a batch of cookies in two to three hours.

It’s no wonder that heat can wreak serious havoc on your car given temperatures that extreme.

With the mercury due to rise throughout the coming week, we’ve put together a list of the most serious problems that heat can cause your cars and how you can avoid them.

Hot weather can drain battery life

Summer heat can negatively impact the battery life in your car even more than in winter. As a car battery is composed of water and acid, rising temperatures can seriously damage both the battery and battery terminals.

High temperatures will cause the water in the battery to evaporate, exposing the lead plates inside the battery and leading to corrosion of the terminals and connections, draining the power and meaning that your car mightn’t have the power necessary to start.

It can be a hard problem to solve, but ensuring that your car is kept in the shade to try and keep internal temperatures down is always a good idea. Likewise, cleaning any corrosive build-up from the battery terminals is also advised.

If your battery is more than three years old, it’s also advisable to have it tested, and replaced if necessary, by a trained technician. You can contact your local Perrys dealership or book a servicing online if you’re in any doubt about your battery condition.

Tyres need special attention

It can take some time, but high temperatures can damage the rubber in your tyres, drying them out and causing them to rot, crack and bulge. In the short term, an increase in heat will also cause air pressure to rise, ballooning the tyre out and lessening its grip on the road.

Additionally, when a tyre is over-inflated, the centre of the tyre will wear faster than the outer edges, increasing the likelihood of a blowout. As well as that, it will also seriously affect the handling and braking of your vehicle, increasing the chances of an accident on the road.

Tyres should be checked on a regular basis for abnormalities and to make sure that tread depth is correct, and should always be examined before long-distance journeys or while travelling in irregular weather.

Worryingly, the Rubber Manufacturers Association reported that around 85 per cent of motorists don’t know how to properly inflate their tyres. It’s worth learning how to do so in case you get stuck in an emergency and always make sure to refer to your car’s handbook to find the correct tyre pressure.

Top your fluids up

Just like you need to drink plenty of water in warm weather to stay hydrated, your car also needs to have plenty of fluids in order to stay running.

Extreme heat can cause your car fluid to dry up, which can be extremely dangerous to a driver. Fluids don’t only lubricate moving parts, they also serve a vital function as coolants by carrying the heat away from your car’s components.

When fluid levels are reduced, these effects are lessened and the chances of overheating or component damage is greatly increased. In extreme circumstances, the water in your car’s parts could actually boil and cause a hose burst.

All fluids including motor oil, transmission fluid and brake fluid should be checked and topped up during the warm season in order to keep your vehicle running properly. If you’re unsure how to do this, refer to your owner’s manual or contact a professional to help.

Keep your engine cool

Engines work extra hard in hot weather, and it’s the cooling system’s job to protect the engine and radiator against wear and corrosion.

Without proper maintenance of the cooling system, the odds of an overheated engine and long-term engine damage increase substantially. Over time, the coolant used in the engine tends to become contaminated and loses its effectiveness.

An engine flush will replace the coolant and ensure your engine is protected against contaminants and against the heat. Most engine flushes are good for around five years or 50,000 miles, so it’s well worth investing.

Throughout this summer, Perrys are offering our Clean & Fresh summer detox for your car, which includes an engine flush as well as a cleanse of the fuel system and air ventilation.

Competitively priced at only £32.99 for the whole treatment, the engine flush is also available as an individual option for £19.99 and you can contact your local dealership for more information.

Between flushes, it’s also a good idea to ensure that coolant is topped up to appropriate levels and hoses, as well as drive belts, should be checked in the hot weather for signs of cracking, soft spots or other indicators of poor condition.

Worn parts are more susceptible to damage during warm weather and should be replaced immediately.

Stay chilled

As well as damage to your car and its components, hot weather will also have an effect on the driver. Maintaining a comfortable driving environment is vital to reducing fatigue and increasing alertness.

A properly maintained air conditioning system is essential, though be warned that during hot weather the ventilation will have to work harder to maintain temperatures and will waste fuel. It’s therefore a good idea to simply wind down your window for a while to save on fuel and to ensure your car doesn’t overwork itself.

In addition, be sure to never leave passengers or pets in your car during hot weather. A dog or cat can suffer serious brain damage or even die within a matter of minutes if confined to a car on a warm day, and similar effects will happen to people in the same situation.

A little common sense can go a long way in the warm weather, so always be sure to take the necessary precautions in advance. That way, you can spend less time sweating over problems and just enjoy the great British weather while it lasts!