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high temperatures and busy holiday routes put extra demands on car and driver
The high temperatures and busy holiday routes of summer put extra demands on both car and driver.
With a little planning and preparation though you should be able to reduce the risk of a breakdown and keep stress levels to a minimum.
Drowned or lost key fobs
It's easy to lose your car keys in sand on the beach or take the remote control for a swim and then find that car doors won't open.
Salt in sea water can ruin electric circuits and render transponder keys useless.
Most cars will have an alternative method of entry if the remote key fails - check the handbook - but it's better to keep keys safe and dry in the first place.
High temperatures aggravate any existing damage to the rubber. Under-inflation adds to the problem causing friction and more heat which can prove too much for weak spots, causing punctures and blow-outs.
High temperatures can aggravate cooling system problems too. Low coolant level, leaking hoses and broken electric cooling fans can all result in overheating and expensive damage.
If the fan's broken it will soon become apparent when you meet slow moving traffic and engine temperature soars.
Check caravan tyres before use
If you have to carry luggage on the roof, use a roof box to reduce drag. Alternatively load luggage on a roof rack as low as possible and wrap tightly in plastic sheeting.
If you are staying in one place for your holiday, take the roof rack or box off when you get there - you'll save fuel on day trips.
Open windows cause extra drag. Try air vents first particularly on a motorway.
Once air conditioning has cooled the inside of the car, you may be able to turn it down or off.
Don't start the air conditioning if doors or windows are open.
Increase tyre pressures if carrying extra passengers or heavy luggage (Check the handbook).
Using a windscreen shade and opening up the car as soon as you get back to it will help to cool the inside. Opening windows while you drive out of a car park will lower the inside temperature before you start the air conditioning.
Fresh air, exercise or turning up the radio may help for a short time but are not as effective as:
Hayfever is particularly bad in the summer and if you sneeze at 70mph you lose your vision for as much as 100 metres.
Surface dressing - laying tar covered with loose chippings - helps preserve roads and improve skid resistance, but is also a cause of cracked headlamp glasses and windscreens, and damaged paintwork.
Keep your distance and drive within posted speed limits to reduce the risk of damage.
Verges and embankments can become bone dry, and a smouldering cigarette butt could be all that it takes for roadside grass to ignite - in previous hot summers we have seen mile after mile of blackened motorway verges.
Roadside fires endanger the countryside, wildlife, and put motorists at risk because of the obvious danger from smoke reducing visibility as well as congestion as emergency services tackle the blaze.
Tractor drivers often have sound-proofed cabs or wear ear protectors, so they may not hear approaching cars.
Tractors don't have to be fitted with brake or indicator lights unless used at night so in daylight be prepared for them to stop or turn without warning.
(6 August 2012)