The weather drives the breakdown business and the heat of summer provides its own very special challenges for cars and technicians alike.
The nature of breakdowns changes quite noticeably: we’re far more likely to be able to get a car going in cold weather than we are when it gets hot. The reason is that hot weather puts various crucial components through a severe work out. In addition to that, people drive more when the weather is good. More people on the road means more traffic jams, and more cars that might not be prepared to be stationary in sweltering summer sun.
The result tends to be breakdowns that either require a lot of work and money to fix or increasingly, breakdowns caused by electrical failure with the fault in such an inaccessible place the technician can’t get to it. To minimise your chances of becoming a summer breakdown victim, follow these five simple steps.
Heatwave hints: Have a service
It’s a good idea to have your car serviced regularly and to its manufacturer’s guidelines. If it hasn’t been, nip down to your local fast fit centre and ask them to have a look at your brakes. They’re your lifeline on the road.
Heatwave hints: Check your engine oil
Make sure the level is beyond the minimum point on the dip stick. If your car hasn’t been serviced in the past 12 months or 10,000 miles, it’s worth investing £40 or £50 in having the oil changed and a new oil filter at the very least.
Heatwave hints: Check your water
An engine needs to be kept cool so check that the fluid level in the ‘header’ tank under the bonnet is between the maximum and minimum markers. If it needs topping up, make sure the engine has cooled down before you undo the cap.
Heatwave hints: Pump up your tyres
According to tyre maker Continental, most blow outs can be traced back to under-inflated tyres. That’s because tyres that don’t have enough air in them generate more friction and run hotter. Research shows a tyre that is 0.4 bar under pressure can lose up to a quarter of its life expectancy, so at the very least pumping them up will save you money.
Heatwave hints: Top up your screen wash
“At the moment I have an army of bugs that has come to grief on the front of my car. Ensure you’ve got sufficient screen wash to clear them without smearing so you can see out properly.”