In Depth

How to keep your car cool during the heatwave

From angling the air con in the right direction to buying sun shades for your windscreen, here's a guide to worry-free driving this summer

Britons may spend most of the year praying for warmer weather but the ongoing heatwave is proving to be a little too much for some.

Temperatures are set to skyrocket yet again over the weekend, potentially reaching highs of 33C in the Southeast, according the Sky News

A long drive in a car equipped with air conditioning can be a great way to cool down. But vehicles need to be maintained to ensure the cabin – and more importantly, the engine – don't get too hot when temperatures climb outdoors.

To ensure your summer travels are comfortable and problem-free, here are a few tips for driving in hot weather:

Buy a sun shade

If you can’t find a shady spot to park your car in, splashing out on a sun shade may be the next best option, The Sun suggests. 

Sun shades have reflective surfaces on the back of them, directing light away from the car and keeping the cabin cooler. Putting shades on the front and rear windows, on the inside, should prevent the steering wheel and leather seats from becoming scorchingly hot.

Make the most of air conditioning

It goes without saying that air conditioning is a motorist’s best friend in hot temperatures, but there are ways drivers can get the most out of it.

Angling the vents towards your face may give you a quick fix of cool air, but Auto Express says it’s not an effective way of circulating air in the cabin for others. Instead, angle the vents upwards, spreading the cool air around the interior and towards the rear seats. 

There’s also no point in “pre-cooling” your car before setting off on a journey because air conditioning systems work more effectively when the engine is running, the magazine says. 

Earlier in the year, before the summer heat kicks in, it’s worth getting your car’s air conditioning re-gassed, otherwise you may find the system doesn’t work when you need it most. This can be done during a routine service or by visiting your local garage.

Turn off start-stop

Start-stop technology has been a popular option for car buyers over the last ten years. The system automatically turns the engine off when waiting at traffic lights, which saves fuel. It also cuts exhaust emissions. 

Auto Express says it’s worth switching off the feature in hot weather because start-stop deactivates the air-conditioning when the vehicle comes to a halt. So if you get stuck in a traffic jam, “you’ll notice the lack of A/C pretty quickly.”

This also applies to modern cars with eco modes, the magazine says. Like start-stop, eco modes are designed to use as little fuel and power as possible. Cars often need to use more fuel to power air-conditioning systems, so the feature is turned off once eco modes are engaged. 

Check your engine fluid levels

This can be an easy one to miss, but regularly checking oil and coolant fluid levels could save your car’s engine from overheating – or worse – breaking down. 

“Oil and coolant are essential for cooling down your engine and keeping it running when it’s being pushed to the extreme”, the Daily Express says. 

The process of checking fluid levels is different from car to car, so drivers will need to refer to their vehicle’s handbook to find where their engine’s dipstick and coolant reservoir are located.

Clean the filters

Pollen filters can “get clogged up”, which can “affect the efficiency of the air flow into the cabin”. Motoring website Car Keys advises drivers to take their car to a service centre to get filters replaced. 

Alternatively, pollen filters are slightly easier to find on modern cars, so car owners who like to tinker with their vehicle can simply replace the filter themselves, the site says.

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