Looking forward to some richly deserved r & r this summer? In all the anticipation of lazy poolside or beachside days, the practicalities of getting to your holiday destination can be overlooked.
The team here at Fixter.co.uk share their top tips to cool down on the road before you head off in the heatwave.
If you’re about to drive off on holiday, here are our top tips as Europe bakes in the heat:
1. Dress right for the drive
Contrary to popular belief, driving barefoot or in flip-flops isn’t technically illegal – as long as you’re safe. That doesn’t make it right, though and the driving standards agency don’t recommend it. You wouldn’t go to the gym in flip-flops, after all, so why drive in them? Wear sensible shoes with soles that are the right thickness to give you enough control over the pedals, and which don’t limit ankle movement.
Dress in light-coloured, lightweight clothes you can layer on and off. Avoid denim, acrylic and corduroy, and if anyone keeps bags on their laps while traveling, that just traps in more heat. Give yourself some space.
2. Cool down on the road
Check your aircon is working before you set off on the road. If your air conditioning is blowing warm air, it could be in need of a regas/recharge or maintenance. For an instant cool down in the heat, make sure you take a frozen bottle of water per person, for pressing against wrists and forehead as the cold compression can help lower your body temperature.
Clearly, carrying lots of fluids, plus fans and cooling sprays, will all help, as will regular breaks and keeping children entertained. Take more water with you than you’ll need, in case you’re on the road longer than planned.
Keep sunscreen to hand – UV rays still come in through car windows (no one wants to get burnt on the way to their holiday). Equally, be aware of signs of heat exhaustion, and act accordingly.
At faster speeds, air con is more economical, while opening windows uses more fuel. If you’re traveling more slowly, say in a built-up area, wind down the windows.
Finally, of course, by driving at the cooler times of day, like early morning or late evening, you’ll avoid the most intense temperatures and the heaviest traffic.
3. Keep car shaded when parked
We’ve all opened a stifling parked car. Try not to park in direct sunlight where possible, place a windscreen sunshade on the dashboard and use window sunshades. Cover the steering wheel with a towel or cloth, or spritz with water. Cover any exposed metal on the seats, like seat belt buckles, it’s never fun getting burnt by those.
4. Hot weather car care
Roadside assistance organisations report increased call-outs as soaring temperatures place cars under greater pressure. Your vehicle may also be more likely to be in a traffic jam, and might not like being stationary in heat. It needs to be in motion to cool down.
Avoid breaking down in the heat with these tips:
Battery: With old batteries, water evaporates to expose the lead plates. Get yours tested or replaced.
Tyres: These expand on exposure to heat, and can dry out or disintegrate. If they’re under-inflated, it raises the chances of a blow-out, so keep an eye on pressure.
Brakes: If brakes overheat, stopping distances can increase, or they may fail completely. Get yours tested thoroughly before departure, and keep brake fluid topped up.
Fluid: Like people, motors need plenty of fluids. Check coolant and motor oil, plus transmission, power-steering and screenwash fluids.
Belts and hoses: Extreme heat can cause blistering, cracking and other problems with these vital components. Get belts and hoses looked over ahead of a long journey.
Bear in mind that a motorway may be kinder on your vehicle than potentially potholed minor roads.
Finally, on long journeys in high temperatures, your emergency kit becomes important. As well as water, it’s worth carrying non-perishable food and a First Aid kit, along with a torch, jump leads and emergency flares should you get stranded!