Britain braces itself for a record breaking heatwave
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With the UK in the midst of the hottest day of the year, drivers are being urged to take precautions and make checks before heading onto the nation’s roads. The high temperatures have led motoring organisations to take the unusual step of issuing warnings to drivers.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “With the temperature ramping up very rapidly this week, we’re expecting a short, sharp spike in breakdowns, especially in central and southern parts of the UK.
“It’s important drivers don’t get caught out, so we’re advising they check their car’s oil and coolant levels as soon as they possibly can, particularly if they have a long trip planned in the hottest part of the day.
“Drivers should also stay hydrated, which has been shown to have a positive effect on their concentration levels.
“Passengers should also be kept as cool and comfortable as possible, so carry plenty of water and plan in sufficient breaks to avoid an already hot car becoming even more heated.”
The RAC also laid out the most common car issues seen in the summer and urged drivers to make checks before setting off in such hot weather.
Battery issues rise due to increased stop-start activity, not just in traffic, but more short journeys when people are at home or at holiday destinations.
If you’re crawling in slow traffic, the car’s electrical system may not be generating enough power to replenish this battery drain.
A warning sign the battery is getting low is lethargic starting, also lights might appear dimmer or take longer to turn on and it’s possible not all electrics work, such as dashboard lights.
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If your battery is ageing, consider replacing it before a long summer road trip.
Three-year replacement cycles are a good rule of thumb, as problems can set in once batteries get to four or five years of age.
Be wary about taking lots of short journeys in the summer too, particularly if you have multiple devices plugged in.
If you are using your car regularly for short trips, it may be worth checking and charging your battery at least once a week, particularly if it is more than three years old.
Poor preparation leads to more blowouts as tyres should be checked before any long journey, also during the summer months tyre blowouts often occur on caravans and trailers too – tyre checks are not always carried out on caravans and trailers like they are on your car.
Visual inspections will show cracks or distortions in the rubber, if you regularly check your tyre pressures and notice one tyre often has a lower pressure than the others it could be a sign that it has a slow puncture and needs replacing, or that perhaps the valve is faulty.
It’s vital you check the condition of your tyres, and your tyre pressures, before embarking on a long journey – check against what it says in the car (or caravan/trailer) manual.
Your clutch can take a real beating in the summer. Busier roads means they will be used more in slow-moving traffic, while driving on unfamiliar roads in remote locations also takes its toll.
Towing is also a big cause of clutch failure. 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.
Clutches don’t normally just fail, there usually are signs of wear beforehand, 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.
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 sign the alternator may be failing is the car’s red battery warning light flickering or fully illuminating on the dashboard. It’s red for a reason: pull over and stop the car as soon as it is safe to do so.
Alternator replacements are not cheap and fitting a new alternator is not the work of a moment. Often, you’ll need a new drive belt on top, adding further expense.
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