In case you hadn’t noticed, Summer’s here. And in 2018, it’s really here. Millions of Brits, accustomed to grey, rain-soaked Julys, are blinking at the strange yellow orb in the sky. Hot, dry, sunny days? It’s all a bit unexpected.
Whilst we make the most of the weather, it’s worth remembering that these conditions can prove challenging for cars and their drivers. With that in mind, here’s our quick round-up of summer driving tips.
1. Be extra-careful about tyre pressures…
Under-inflated tyres are bad news any time of the year, but especially during the summer. Under-inflation causes tyres to heat up rapidly, and on solar-heated tarmac, that heat’s much harder to dissipate. If the temperature inside the tyre rises too much, the internal structure can fail, leading to a blow-out.
This one is so easy to remedy: before you set off, just whizz round with the pressure gauge. A two-minute check could save so much hassle (or worse).
2. …and the overall condition of your tyres
Apart from tyre pressures, summer puts two additional burdens on your tyres:
- Heat dries the tyres, which can lead to deterioration of some of the complex compounds they’re made from.
- Summer journeys tend to be longer, exacerbating any problems the tyre has.
Again, this is super-easy to deal with. Before any holiday trips, give your tyres a visual once-over. Do this a few days before, so there’s no last-minute scramble for replacements.
3. Watch out for glare
Few conditions can impair your view of the road ahead like glare from the sun. Intense morning or evening sun can be blinding and make pedestrians and cyclists very difficult to spot. Other than having sunglasses to hand, the best way to prepare is to keep your windscreen as clear as possible. A smeary, dusty or insect-spotted screen makes the effects of glare even worse. Therefore, summer is the time to make sure your windscreen washer container is brimming, your wipers are in good condition and you’ve broken out the microfibre cloth.
4. Take a break
We all know that drink-driving is dangerous, but sleep-deprived driving can be just as bad. Research has shown that sleep deprivation slows our reflexes, decreases awareness and impairs judgment. These effects are likely to be worse in the summer when we undertake long treks to holiday destinations. What’s even worse, a lot of drivers see it as a mark of pride to get from A to B with as few breaks as possible.
The best advice is, obviously, to get plenty of sleep the night before a big trip. Go easy on the alcohol too, as this reduces sleep quality. Once you’re on the road, all the big motoring organisations recommend a break for every two hours of driving. That’s fine in principle, but if you start off sleep-deprived, you might need to adjust. Just be aware of the warning signs such as drowsiness, inability to concentrate, drifting within your lane and so on.
5. Watch out for hay fever
For the 27% of drivers who suffer from hay fever, summer driving can be a nightmare. According to the RAC, around 2 million drivers may have had an accident, near miss or loss of control as a direct result of hay fever symptoms. Unfortunately, options are limited: closing air vents and windows can help, but aren’t always practical. Hay fever remedies can help to varying extents — but beware that some cause drowsiness. If your symptoms are really bad, really the only viable solution is for someone else to take over. If you think that’s extreme, bear in mind that at 70mph, your car can travel 100m during a single sneeze.
6. The countryside is not your ashtray
We hate to preach, but flicking your fag butt out the window — come on! Given that fag butts are non-biodegradable and toxic, and that 4.5 trillion butts end up washed into the ocean, hoicking them out the car window isn’t great at any time of year. But in summer, discarding cigarettes becomes downright dangerous. Tinder-dry grass verges don’t take much to set them alight and once started can be difficult (and dangerous) for emergency services to extinguish. So, if you’re on a long trip, take your cigarette break at the service station.
The Welsh VW Specialist blog covers a wide range of automotive topics, from the contentious to the light-hearted. We are an independent garage specialising (as the name suggests!) in all the VW group marques, including Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT. Welsh VW Specialists provide services, repairs and MOTs, delivering a main dealer level of care at affordable prices. To book your vehicle in, or for any enquiries, get in touch.