Car expert shares the top 5 areas of your car most likely to suffer during heatwave

With the heatwave fast approaching, it is your trusty car that will suffer.

That’s because hot weather can wreak havoc on vehicles, if left too long in direct sunlight. Exploding tyres, an unexpected empty fuel tank, and full-blown structural damage are just some of the worst issues our cars could suffer from at the heights of summer. And all because we haven’t looked into what extra maintenance our car needs during hot periods!

The automotive experts at Bristol Street Motors explain what the hot weather could mean for your car:

“While we all love a spot of sunshine, hot weather exacerbates any faults which are already present in your vehicle. If left unchecked for too long in hot temperatures, there could be long-term structural damage to your vehicle, which could incur a costly sum to repair.

“Luckily, there are Summer Health Checks which act as a summer-specific MOT on your vehicle. These professional health checks ensure your vehicle is safe and that you won’t run into any heat-related issues on the road.”

To see where you need to be checking, Bristol Street Motors have revealed the five areas of your car most afflicted by hot weather.

1. Engine coolant levels are likely to run low in hot weather

As the name suggests, you need this vital fluid to keep your engine cool during adverse weather conditions. Along with keeping your car’s radiator system flowing in winter, it also prevents overheating in the summer.

If your car overheats when you’re out and about, you could incur serious structural damage to your vehicle, so it’s always best to check the levels as the mercury rises.

To do so, take a look under the bonnet for your coolant tank, checking that the level sits between the max and min markers on the side. Bear in mind, however, you can only get an accurate reading once your engine has been off for a while!

2. Your air conditioning system could have accrued a lot of bacteria over winter

As the temperature rises, blasting the air con is an absolute must to stay cool – but did you know you could be spurting out lots of nasty bacteria at the same time?

Bacteria build-up is common in cars that haven’t utilised the system for a while, such as during a cold winter, so it’s vital you get this checked out to prevent getting sick.

This isn’t something that is easy to do yourself (unless you’re a mechanic), so it’s always best to enlist the help of a professional. They can provide an air conditioning treatment that will kill the bacteria and give your car a lovely fragrance at the same time.

3. Hot weather makes tyre pressure crank up

While we might all be conscious of when our tyres are looking flat or running low, we aren’t always as adept at knowing when the tyre pressure is too high.

Heat leads to a rise in pressure which can cause the air in your tyres to expand and, if it goes too far, could make them explode – especially if driving on uneven or rough road surfaces.

To avoid driving with a flat or overinflated tyre, take a look into the optimum tyre pressure for your car in your vehicle’s handbook and either fill/release air from your tyres at a service station. While you’re at it, review any external damage and consider getting your tyres checked out for a professional overview.

4. High temperatures can damage your car battery

Car batteries are the silent passenger who accompanies you on every drive, ensuring you get to your destination. But if you let it overheat, it could also be the reason your car grinds to a halt.

If your car is often parked in the sun during the day or it is driven infrequently during bouts of hot weather with the windows up, you should get your car battery checked over. Equally, if you’re on the hunt for a used car, ask the dealer for a Summer Health Check thrown in to ensure everything is above board.

If your car is sometimes in the sunshine or you’re planning a long journey, keep an eye on the temperature gauge on your dashboard. Alternatively, it may display as a warning light. This should tell you when your car is starting to overheat.

If you do spy a warning light, safely pull over and let your car cool down for at least half an hour. Then top up the coolant.

5. Your fuel levels will drop a lot quicker in hot weather

Did you know that hot weather could cost you at the pumps?

Seriously – when it’s hot out, your car’s fuel levels drop a lot quicker than usual, causing that £50 petrol top-up to really give you the equivalent of £46 worth of petrol. If you’re travelling long distances in boiling weather or leaving a full tank on the driveway for days in standby in the sun, this really adds up!

To take care of the pennies, consider topping up your tank so it’s only half full. Yes, you will need to visit the petrol station more often, but you’ll be more fuel efficient and will have a better estimate of how much time you have left before filling up again.

1 thought on “Car expert shares the top 5 areas of your car most likely to suffer during heatwave”

  1. Kevan Chippindall-Higgin

    Coolant does more than just cool the engine. It prevents freezing in the winter, hence the term anit freeze. It also contains corrosion inhibitors. Do not imagine that aluminium does not corrode. It does, but what you get is aluminium oxide, which is a white dust as distinct from ferrous oxide which is brown and commonly known as rust.

    Either way, if the inhibitors start to fail, oxides will develop and will in time, clog the radiator. Ethylene glycol coolant needs to be changed every two years and Organic Acid Technology, the red coolant, every five.

    Coolant also raises the boiling point of the water. Modern cars seem to run at around 90C when fully warm. If the boiling inhibitor is starting to fail, bubbles will form at lower temperatures which will make the car run hotter.

    Much of this is invisible. A well maintained coolant system should look almost clean enough to drink. Please do not. It is highly toxic. If it starts to look cloudy, then it is well overdue for renewal. If doing it yourself, make sure that any spills are cleaned up. It has a sweet taste that is attractive to animals and will kill them.

    High ambient temperatures, a slightly clogged system, lower boiling point and a fully laden vehicle being driven fairly hard will soon expose any weaknesses.

    The notion of tyres exploding is interesting. Tyres have a maximum safe pressure marked on the side of them. This is NOT the working tyre pressure, which is set by the manufacturer. Make sure that they are correct and that pressures are checked on cold tyres, so first thing in the morning in summer. Under inflated tyres can cause overheating due to the greater rolling resistance as well as greater cornering stresses and might well fail. They will also wear unevenly, have a smaller contact patch with the road and affect the handling.

    NEVER brim your tank if the car is to be left out in the sun. The fuel will warm and thus expand, causing a leak. It will in any event evaporate over time because tanks, unlike fuel containers, must breathe.

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