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What to do when… driving in Summer

The Sun is shining, the sky is clear and the roads are open! It’s nearly summertime here in the UK, so what can you do to help your car and driving be at their best?

We’ve arranged some top tips to combat the summer sun, with some help from The Highway Code, so take a look and see how you can make the most of driving in the British summer.

Keep your vehicle well ventilated to avoid drowsiness. When you get warm, you get sleepy – and that’s not what you want behind the wheel! Your passengers might not like it, but it’s better to be safe and a little bit chilly than be in an accident due to drowsiness.

car air con

Don’t be afraid to push that A/C button if it’s warm out!

Be aware that the road surface may become soft or if it rains after a dry spell it may become slippery. We all know that the British summertime can never happen without a good amount of rain – it’s why we appreciate the sun so much! However, even if you don’t venture out until it’s dry, roads can still hold water and be slippery until much later after a rainy spell. These conditions can affect your steering and braking, so try to be as careful as if it was still chucking it down.

slippery road

Be cautious on slippery roads, even if the sun is shining

If you are dazzled by bright sunlight, slow down and if necessary, stop. Although chasing those hours of sunshine is important, being dazzled by sunlight while driving can cause an accident as many drivers will avert their eyes or squint – impairing their vision. Sun visors and sunglasses can help to remedy this, but if you’re finding it too much it’s ok to pull over and wait a little while until the sun’s position has changed.

sun dazzle

Sun through the trees can impair a driver’s vision, just like bright headlights

 

As well as The Highway Code, we’ve also got some more general tips which may come in handy this summer.

 

Beer Gardens – Don’t be tempted! There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink in the sunshine, but if you’re driving, don’t have any alcohol. Many groups now use a prearranged ‘designated driver’, but if you take your car to the pub and decide to drink while there, get a taxi or a lift home  – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

beer-garden.jpg

If you’re heading to a beer garden, don’t take your car

 

Don’t leave your pet in your car. Although you can open a window, the temperature inside a car can soar compared to that of the air outside. Animals can become dehyrated and suffer greatly, even if you think they haven’t been there for a long time. Check out the video below to see how being locked in a vehicle on a hot day affects a person – imagine this being your dog!

 

As well as looking after yourself, look after your car! Here’s some handy maintenance info to keep your car in tip-top shape.

Check your fluids. Make sure your car’s oil, water and screenwash are at the levels they should be, and that you have plenty of engine coolant – you don’t want to overheat your engine and leave yourself stranded.

engine.jpg

Checking your engine’s fluids could save you a lot of stress this summer

 

Maintain your tyres. If you’re doing extra miles to make the most of the summer, that means extra wear and tear. Check your tread depth is above the legal limit of 1.6mm and there aren’t any bald spots, bulges, or tears around the circumference of the tyre or in the tyre walls.

car tyres

If your tyres are looking like this, it might be time for a fresh set!

 

Test your brakes. In the summer there tends to be more people on the road, and that means more hazards. Caravans, cyclists, bikers and horse riders make the most of the nicer weather, so be prepared for the unexpected! Cautious driving might mean an extra 5 minutes to your destination, but it’s much safer for you and other road users.

car abs light

Make sure your brakes are working – if there’s a hazard, you’ll need them!

 

Finally, if you really want to make the most of this summer, then we’ve got one final piece of advice for you – HAVE FUN!

dog car summer

Most importantly; get ready to have some fun this summer!

 

Don’t forget that if you want to get your car ready for some summer driving, you can use our handy map to find your local Trust My Garage member, operating under a Chartered Trading Standards Association approved consumer code. They’ll help to ensure your car is safe and ready to hit the road to catch some sun.tmg_ctsi_long

Driving with children – Part One

The summer holidays are finally here!

For most, this means an extra 10 minutes in bed, reassured by the fact that there will be far fewer cars on the road during the morning commute to work.

For others, however, it means six weeks of quality time with the munchkins.

The summer break is the perfect way to escape the mundane routine of school runs and smelly PE kits, with many opting for some sort of summer getaway.

Jetting abroad can be costly and hectic, so more and more Brits are opting for UK breaks in sites such as Devon, Cornwall, and the Lake District. For the more venturous, willing to drive the engine further afield, ferrying into mainland Europe is also a favoured alternative to flying.

Of course, both of these options means long road trips are in store, which, for parents, can equate to a long, sore headache.

With RoSPA reporting that 21.5% of drivers are distracted by babies or children while on the road, here’s how to keep sane during your lengthy journeys with the kids.

 

TRAVEL AT NIGHT

DWK - NIGHT DRIVING

Simply put, the best way to keep the children from whining and throwing tantrums during your journey is by making sure they’re asleep the whole way. Most children have a set routine during term time which means that, despite having no school to wake up for, they’ll be used to drifting off at a certain time. This is the perfect opportunity to set out on your travels as, not only will their state of slumber allow for a more peaceful journey for you, but during the evenings, the roads are far more likely to be quiet.

If this is not an option, then there are always ways to encourage your nippers to kip outside of their usual bedtime. How about tiring them out before the journey? Taking a long walk, keeping them up late the night before, and getting them to dance to their favourite songs are all ways to burn the energy they’d otherwise use to occupy their boredom during your travels. Lavender will also aid this. Stocking up on lavender oils and scents, and dropping a few squirts onto their seat will have them relaxed and soothed in no time.

 

KEEP THEM OCCUPIED

DWK - TOYS

It’s no secret that children tend to get very bored very quickly. On a long car ride, it won’t take long before they’re fidgeting and fussing out of restlessness. Fortunately, there are plenty of activities to keep your children occupied, even during the longest of journeys. What’s more, you can get involved in the fun too! Here are some of our favourite options:

  • Bringing along their favourite toys
  • Arming them with activity packs, colouring books and word-searches
  • Playing verbal games as a family, including I-spy, How many lorries and I went to the market…
  • Map spotting: Get them to track where about you are on a map, this way you won’t have to hear the shriek of ‘Are we there yet!?’
  • Carrying their favourite books and perhaps encouraging them to role play their favourite characters

 

REWARD GOOD BEHAVIOUR

DWK - REWARD

Every child likes prizes. In fact, everybody likes prizes. The great thing with children is that the rewards need not be extravagant giveaways. Sweets and treats are great ways to encourage good behaviour. In moderation, though, to avoid a catalyst to hyperactivity.

The key thing is to let your children know the behaviour that is expected of them during the trip. Try writing out a checklist of fun car rules, showing the type of behaviour mummy and daddy expect on the journey. These don’t have to be strict or formal – in fact, children will be far more likely to abide by rules if they’re presented in a fun and humorous way, especially knowing they could receive a treat for being good boys and girls.

 

TAKE BREAKS

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Taking breaks is essential during a long journey. Not only will it allow you to take in some of the great views along the way – but it’ll also stop the fidgeting and complaints of a numb bum.

Children tend to get hungrier easier, and will put all their efforts into making it known! Breaks are the perfect opportunity to make sure they’re fed and hydrated as eating in the car is best avoided; not only could this end up being really messy, but potentially hazardous too! Should the car jolt or brake suddenly, children could end up choking on food; while strapped up in seat belts, it is much more difficult to come to their aid. Instead, it is safer, and much more fun to take a picnic stop.

Service stations can be relatively expensive, so why not get the kids involved by setting up some picnic nibbles beforehand?

 

TABLETS

DWK - IPAD

 

Thanks to tablets and portable DVD players, children can now carry their favourite films and programmes with them wherever they go. Most systems also allow users to download and install games, apps and audiobooks too, which should just about keep the little ones occupied for hours.

This option does require some preparation beforehand though. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a system with internet data, most tablets will require some sort of internet connection. To avoid disappointment, pre-download any apps and games at home before setting off on your journey. Also be sure to check the tablet is fully charged before leaving, to avoid batteries running out too soon into your journey.

 

PLAYLIST

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Nursery rhymes and cheesy pop may not be the ideal playlist for mums and dads, but the children will certainly enjoy them. Who can really complain when a singalong to The wheels on the bus is saving you from the shrieks and screams of restlessness?

Get all the family in on the action, and make it a real musical treat. Children love to be involved, and seeing mummy and daddy enjoying a bit of a warble will provide them with great amusement.

 

CARRY WET WIPES AND TISSUES

DWK TISSUES AND WIPES

 

Children can be messy. While on the roads, it won’t be possible to tidy up after them, even when you do get the twitch to do so.

Keeping wet wipes and tissues at hand will provide a quick fix for sticky hands and spills as the kids should be able to tidy up themselves. This will help to protect your interiors from permanent stains of spills and leaks.

 

PLAN YOUR JOURNEY

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Car journeys can be stressful in any case, but not knowing where you’re going can be even more traumatic. On a long trip, getting lost will only make both you and the children irritable. Although most car owners have shunned the road map, and put all their trust into the Sat Nav, it is important to familiarise yourself with the route beforehand – just in case!

Sometimes Sat Navs can be a little bit untrustworthy, especially where new roads are concerned. Doing your research beforehand can prepare you for any diversions or changes to your trip.

It may also be beneficial to carry a road map in your glove compartment to prepare you for any electronic or technical issues with your navigation device.

Don’t make your journey any longer than it needs to be.

There are plenty more hints and tips for driving with children, click for Part Two of our article!

Get your motor’s body summer ready

summer body

Over the past few months, Britain has faced a juxtaposition of weathers. The UK has seen some extreme rains and flooding, but dotted between the downpours has been cameo appearances of blue skies, blazing sunshine and highs of 24 degrees. While some choose to work up buckets of sweat in the gym, pining for the perfect summer figure; many forget that there’s another body that ought to be prepared for the summer, should it make an appearance.

Just like you, your car needs extra care to make sure that they don’t go into overdrive during the summer season. Where we accept it’s entirely unnecessary to slather your car in SPF40, there are some quick and easy ways of making sure your motor doesn’t burn out this summer. Not quite sure how? Luckily, Trust My Garage has put together your guide to keeping fit during summer driving:

Stay cool

During spells of heat, keeping cool is vital. Too much heat can have detrimental and damaging effects on your body which can restrict you from really enjoying the sunshine. To name a few, heat stroke and dehydration are both common problems during this time of year. These issues are not too dissimilar to one risk your car is open to this summer: overheating.

If you have a long journey planned, make sure your car’s cooling system is working efficiently, and your coolant level is optimum. Where keeping windows open is also a suitable alternative, as well as burning more petrol due to the extra drag, open windows can open you up to a world of greater evils in the form of bugs and pollen.

Save yourself some pennies and sneezes by having your air conditioning system checked at your local Trust My Garage member.

Keep Hydrated

Like you, your car can face extra pressures if it isn’t kept hydrated. During summer, cars face a higher risk of overheating which can cause damage to your engine. Due to the extra work your car faces, trying to keep you cool through cooling systems, there is always the potential risk that your motor can go into overdrive and overwork itself so much that irreversible, and expensive, damage is caused.

As a precaution, make a habit of keeping fluid levels checked and topped up regularly. Low coolant level is one of the most common causes of overheating. Coolant, more commonly known as antifreeze, is needed to keep your motor’s engine working within normal temperatures. Keeping coolant checked and topped up will help minimise your chances of overheating. However, this process can be dangerous if you are unfamiliar with it – even when working properly, the coolant circulating in your engine will be scalding hot as the system is pressurised. If in doubt, seek assistance from your local Trust My Garage member.

Don’t forget the oil level either. Although the primary function of the oil is to lubricate the moving parts, this helps to keep the engine cool as reduced friction means lower temperatures.

In order to be extra safe, if you feel your car is showing signs of overheating (smoke pouring out of the bonnet, the temperature gauge sitting above the normal limit, an unusual smell coming from your engine), give it a break to cool itself down. Your nearest Trust My Garage member can help you spot more signs of overheating, and suggest extra ways to avoid it.

Keep on track

The sun can bring out the Beyoncé in every driver. Blue skies are the perfect backdrop for a gutsy singalong to tunes and rhythms of summer. While this can make a long journey much more enjoyable, it’s important to make sure that the road gets your full attention. While channelling your inner diva, it is essential to stay focussed on the roads in order to avoid accidents.

According to the Department of Transport, road accidents are more commonplace during the summer months, with young people being the involved the most. Have a read of our Summer Driving Distractions blog post to help keep you safe on the road this summer.

Accessorise

Where this may not be a fashion blog, it is still recommended that accessorising well can prepare you well for summer cruising. Kitting yourself out with a good pair of glasses can be beneficial when the glaring sun restricts your vision. During long stretches of road, a bright sun can hinder your ability to see in the distance. This means it becomes increasingly harder to prepare for any obstacles further along in your path. Where glasses won’t absorb all of the sunlight, they’ll certainly improve your vision. Stay prepared by keeping a pair to hand.

Check your equipment

If a long route is on the itinerary, checking the state of your tyres is essential. Your local garage will be able to advise you of the acceptable tread, pressure and condition of your tyre, to help you avoid them becoming a hazard to drive on. As a general rule, you should check your tyre pressures at least once a month as driving on poorly inflated tyres can poorly affect your grip, and increase your braking distance, which could lead to fatalities.

tyre check

In more fatal incidences, too much pressure on a worn out tyre could lead you in more serious trouble, causing your tyres to fail completely. Excessive contact with the road surface increases friction, which produces heat; this heat can lead to tread separation, blow outs and, as a result, a terrible accident.

It is important to remember that overinflated tyres can also be just as damaging.

Make sure your journey isn’t a blowout by keeping your tyres in a good state, avoiding damaged road surfaces, and keeping your tyre pressure to the correct level.

Take breaks

Warm weather can be draining, with many suffering from lethargy after just a few hours in the sun. With long drives, feeling awake and attentive is the key to avoiding dangerous situations. If you feel your eyes becoming a little too heavy, be sure to take a break from your journey to refresh and revitalise.

Where you may believe you can power through the drowsiness, staying awake doesn’t necessary keep you attentive. Whilst drowsy, your mind is far more focussed on the need for rest, that any sense of hazard perception is drastically minimalised. Utilise service stations to give you a break from the road; it could prove a life saver.

There are plenty more ways to keep you and your motor healthy this summer. Fortunately, there is a wealth of Trust My Garage approved specialists all around the country with a whole range of knowledge to keep you from burning out in the heat. Visit your local member for more help and advice on how to get your body summer ready.

Drive safe during summer downpours

Flood

Britain has experienced flooding during recent weeks

Driving in wet weather

Over the past few weeks, Britain has experienced heavy out-of-season showers. In some cities, these downfalls have proven too much for drainage systems, as flooding has been seen throughout the country. Although 20 June marked the official first day of summer, weather reports suggest that it may not be time to pack away the umbrellas and wellies just yet. When it comes to driving, too, extra precautions ought to be taken.

As most will remember from the theory driving test, rain can severely impair driving conditions. Aside from the splutters and splats of raindrops obscuring windscreens, stopping distances and visibility are also affected. Lack of care, when driving in the rain, can lead to lack of control, collision, and, in extreme cases, fatalities – so keeping safe during downfalls is essential. Acting as further solution, it has been suggested that drivers ought to avoid driving during extreme weather conditions, if possible.

Richard Gladman, Head of Driving Standards, said: “Only travel in extreme adverse weather conditions if it is really necessary.”

For most, avoiding the weather can be impractical, but there are easy ways to ensure greater safety when driving during the current weather conditions.

Here’s a list of things to consider during your summer downpour driving:

Car checks

The last thing you want, when caught up in a spell of heavy rains, is to have your vision restricted due to damaged or dirty windscreen wipers. With the current unforgiving conditions, it is important to make sure that your senses, as well as your motor, are fully functional. During extreme downfall, it can become near impossible to see more than the stampede of raindrops on your windscreen, which makes it increasingly difficult to spot a potential hazard. What’s more, excess water decreases the amount of grip your tyres have on the road, which could lead to slipping and sliding, should your breaks be pressed too abruptly. Avoid potential casualties by ensuring your lights, windscreen wipers and tyre pressures are all present and correct, and be sure to stay attentive. Contact your local Trust My Garage to carry out all your essential car checks.

Route plan

Planning is key when it comes to driving in extreme weather conditions. Where it is best to avoid travelling altogether, if this is unavoidable, forward-thinking is important. Gladman said: “Before setting off, check for any weather alerts, traffic updates or planned road closures that may affect your journey.” It is beneficial to clue yourself up on any roads in your area that are prone to flooding; this will allow you to avoid potentially dangerous routes. What’s more, it is best to allow more time to reach your destination, as the current weather can lead to longer routes, more diversions and lengthier traffic queues. These circumstances could lead to stress behind the wheel which can poorly affect your driving. Stay safe by planning your journey in advance, and leaving out earlier than usual.

 Road surfaces

It’s no secret that some road surfaces around the country are a little worse for wear; what’s more, heavy rains often lead to them becoming even more damaged. As well as leading to a slightly bumpier journey, damaged road surfaces can also be detrimental to your tyres, causing excessive wear and tear. In clear weathers, it is far easier to avoid potholes or chips in the road; however, during the rain, puddles make them increasingly difficult to spot. A tip for spotting potentially impaired surfaces is to look out for any loose chunks of tarmac, as these are signs of damaged road surfaces.

Visibility

With heavy rains deterring vision, it is important for motorists to stay visible. Switching on your dipped headlights will allow other drivers to see you easily – without overwhelming them with the glare of your full beams. When driving an unfamiliar car, it is important to make sure you are aware of how buttons and switches work before setting off on your journey. In extreme weather conditions, familiarise yourself with the light switches and settings before revving off.

Speed

It is a fact that stopping distance increases during wet weather. Due to the excess water on the roads, your tyres grip is far less efficient, so slips and skids can be unavoidable. During extreme weathers, it is essential to consider your speed, as the physics of driving in the rain dictates that the higher the speed, the greater the stopping distance. Stay safe by sticking to the speed limit and keeping a safe space between you and the car ahead.

Reduced speed will also provide a smoother ride when driving through large puddles. When driving through excess waters, or at high speeds on wet roads, your car faces the risk of building up a layer of water between the vehicle’s wheels and the road which cannot be cleared by the tread on the tyres. If this becomes too much for the car to handle, your vehicle could lose traction which prevents the car from responding to your controls, and gaining a mind of its own. This is called aquaplaning, and gives you the feeling that your car is on water-skis. You may also notice the car becoming much quieter, as the noise of tyres on tarmac will disappear.

In this event, although instinct may dictate it, it’s best to avoid slamming on the brakes or jerking as these can lead to skidding. Should this happen, allow the vehicle to follow the path that it wants to and ease your foot off the accelerator until you can feel friction and traction coming back to your wheels. At this point, it is safe for you to gently nudge your steering wheel and use your brakes lightly (if your car has ABS, at this point, you can brake normally). More preventatively, keeping a steady pace will allow for a more streamlined approach to the water, decreasing your chances of aquaplaning, or spraying other road users.

Aquaplaning is much more likely if your tyres are worn, so be sure to check your tread depth regularly.

Emergencies

In extreme circumstances, torrential rain can interfere with the electrics of your vehicle, leading to a breakdown. Plan ahead for any emergencies by keeping your mobile phone charged, so you can call for recovery. It is also recommended that you are familiar with your local garage for any repairs that may be needed. Be sure to download the Trust My Garage app or head to the website to locate your nearest trusted garage. While you wait for your recovery service, ensure your bonnet is closed to avoid further complications.

 

Most importantly, during the extreme weather conditions, it’s important to stay warm and dry – ensure your car is kitted out with emergency supplies such as blankets, first-aid kits and extra food and drink.

 

For more information on how to keep you and your car safe during the summer flooding, seek advice from your local Trust My Garage member.

Top 10 tips to take the heat out of summer driving

Driving in the sunshine can be an exhilarating experience as we wind down the windows and breath in the fresh scent of summer. But heat waves and very hot temperatures are not always good for our cars. As Britain basks in record temperatures, we are urging motorists to take extra care of their vehicles. Summer driving, particularly on long journeys and on unfamiliar routes, can not only have adverse effects on you as a driver but also on your vehicle too. The key to a safe and hassle free trip is preparation.

Our top tips will keep you from getting hot under the collar.

Young adults taking road trip in vintage car.

Young adults taking road trip in vintage car.

1. Rubber
Consistent hot weather can exacerbate any existing minor damage to wiper blades and rubber windscreen trim. Give them a good look over to make sure any small problems are not worsened by hot temperatures.

2. Tyres
High temperatures will also worsen any existing damage to rubber, and under-inflated tyres can be more prone to friction, leading to punctures and blow-outs. The answer? Check the condition and pressure before going anywhere! Why not do it the very next time you pass by a petrol station which has air and water facilities?

3. Coolant
Keep your engine coolant topped up to the correct level. Engine coolant could be at risk during summer driving. Aggravated by warm weather, low engine coolant, leaking coolant hoses and broken electric cooling fans can all result in overheating and temperatures hot enough to cause severe and expensive damage.

4. Washer
Is your windscreen washer bottle topped up? Water evaporates more quickly in hot weather, so check that your windscreen washer bottle is full before setting off. Sudden rain showers on a dry but dirty windscreen can cause bad smearing if your washer bottle is empty – don’t get caught out. A working screen washer is a legal requirement

5. Chippings
Loose stone chippings can cause punctures. Be extra careful driving through rural areas as summer is a popular time for the National Roads Authority and county councils to lay tar covered with loose chippings to improve roads. We tend to drive faster on rural roads as the speed limits are higher than in towns and cities. As well as the risk of skidding, the loose chips can fly up and cause damage to your paintwork.

6. Wildlife

Be on the lookout for wandering wildlife. Animals and birds are particularly active in summer as they feed their young. Larger animals such as badgers and deer are big enough to write off your car if they are hit, even at lower speeds. Please remember to report any collisions with wild animals, especially the ones that are protected such as badgers and some of the wild bird species.

7. Farmers
It’s the busiest time of the year for farmers as they harvest their crops and move livestock. Don’t drive too closely to tractors that are fully loaded or towing agricultural machinery such as ploughing equipment. Debris often falls from these vehicles and can cause costly damage to your car’s bodywork.

8. Air conditioning

In older cars, air conditioning increases your fuel consumption as the compressor provides “drag” on the engine. If you are stuck in traffic, you might want to turn the aircon off and open a window instead to save fuel. However, this mechanical drag is much less significant on modern cars in the first place, and once moving again, the extra aerodynamic drag of an open window will cancel this out anyway. Some very modern cars, especially hybrids, have “smart” efficiency settings to absolutely maximise fuel economy, and turning on this settings reduces the aircon load on the engine to an absolute minimum.

9. Glare
Sun glare can cause accidents in a number of ways, but one thing you can do in preparation is keep your windscreen clean from smears inside and out to stop the sunlight catching on them and impairing your vision.

10. Battery
Excessive fluid evaporation can reduce the life of your battery. Check your manual to see if it needs liquid top-ups and add distilled water if needed.

If you have any doubts about the condition of your vehicle, do take it along to your nearest and trusted ‘Trust My Garage’ member for expert advice and a simple summer service. Click HERE to find your nearest one.