Hot tips on how to avoid breaking down in your car this summer
The heatwave is upon us and with soaring temperatures that are set to break records, many drivers do not realise these conditions can be just as strenuous on cars as is the chill of winter.
Preparing for journeys ahead of time is key and being able to spot common breakdowns before they happen will keep you moving this summer. Here are the most common car breakdowns to watchout for and how to avoid them:
1 . Car battery-related problems
Did you know that batteries are the number one offender for causing a summer breakdown? Car batteries have a hard time in winter, but the summer months aren’t much easier on them because increased stop-start activity. This is not just in traffic, but increased shorter journeys when people are at home or at holiday destinations. Plus with a fully loaded car and entertainment devices plugged in there is a lot more demand on the battery and alternator. So if you are crawling in slow traffic, the car’s electrical system may not be generating enough power to replenish this battery drain.
Warning signs your battery is coming to the end of its life include your car being lethargic getting started. Also lights might appear dimmer or take longer to turn on and it’s possible not all electrics work, such as dashboard lights.
If your car battery is ageing you may want to consider replacing it before a long summer road trip. Generally a good rule of thumb is to replace your battery every three to five years. You may want to consider charging your battery in the summer if you regularly take short trips.
2. Check your tyres regularly
Checking the tyres should be part of your weekly routine to ensure you are safe on the roads but even more so before a long journey. For some car owners, the annual holiday is easily the longest trip they’ll take in their car all year. This can soon highlight any lurking issues with tyres. Cracked, aged rubber may just cope with a run to the shops but might rapidly fail if subjected to more intensive use.
Long journeys, high temperatures and damaged or worn tyres can lead to blowouts and on motorways this can have serious consequences. Check your tyre pressure regularly as well as visual inspections. Also always make sure you have you have a spare tyre and that is in a good condition too.
3. Can your clutch take the heat?
In the summer months the clutch on your car will get a real beating because the roads are busier and driving on unfamiliar roads in remote locations. Particularly on hills and in slow moving traffic. However, the RAC say that the biggest cause of clutch failure is towing. If you have a caravan and it is incorrectly loaded, this will accentuate any issues, and soon reveal any pre-existing clutch issues. Mix together a worn clutch with a heavy caravan and a hilly holiday location, and you’ve got a recipe for clutch failure.
Be mindful of the warning signs that the clutch on your car is about to fail such as a heavy or gritty pedal, a high clutch bite or, simply, signs that your clutch is slipping when you accelerate hard in a high gear at low speed. To prevent breakdowns from your clutch failing plan your journey carefully and always ensure your car has the right towing capacity for your caravan or trailer.
4. Alternator breakdowns
Alternator issues are related to battery-related problems; this time, it’s excessive demand on the alternator that can cause issues to arise. The drag from connecting more power-hungry devices, combined with hotter weather, will quickly highlight any weaknesses.
A common sign that your alternator is about to fail is that the red battery warning light will start to flicker. As soon as your see the warning light, pull over and stop the car as soon as you can.
The other basic checks can help safeguard your journey this summer include: fuel and oil levels, checking and topping up your coolant, check your electrics and screen wash. Also in hot weather make sure you have drinks in the car and your phone is fully charged for use in case of an emergency.