The summer months may be filled with plenty of fun and frolics, but during periods of hot weather like we’ve had over the last few days, your vehicle is at an increased risk of breakdown. In fact, vehicle breakdown specialist RAC reported a call out increase of 20% during summer, and this rose to 30% in coastal areas as motorists located inland make their way to the seaside to cool off only to find themselves stranded on the hard shoulder.
Unfortunately overheating is a common issue and the leading cause of hot weather breakdowns, alongside convertible roof malfunctions, air conditioning problems, lost keys and blocked fuel caps, but there are steps that you can take to ensure your summer day trips and other plans go ahead without a hitch and your car is kept cool and competent in the process. As a leading provider of car servicing, MOT tests and vehicle repairs, we too see an increase in issues during the summer months, that’s why we’ve dedicated this post to avoiding car overheating…
Check your oil and coolant levels regularly
Your engine oil and coolant play vital roles in keeping heat levels within your engine system manageable, but without regular checks overheating can quickly become a problem, whether you are taking on long or short journeys. Checking your oil levels takes but a few minutes to complete but could save you hundreds in vehicle repairs and recovery. Before you begin make sure that your vehicle is positioned on level ground and that the engine is cold. Next open the bonnet and find the oil dipstick, which usually has a brightly coloured handle. Remove this dipstick and wipe the oil off using a clean cloth. This will reveal the minimum and maximum markers, which will indicate the oil level once reinserted and removed once more. If the level falls below the minimum marker, the oil must be topped up.
Coolant is another fluid that is integral to the prevention of overheating, and it effectively keeps engine temperatures stable even in hot climates. Whilst many modern cars have sealed cooling systems which shouldn’t need topping up periodically, checking levels is still important and can indicate the presence of leaks. Firstly, locate the expansion tank, noting the minimum and maximum marks on its side. The coolant should fall between these levels, and if it doesn’t, may require a top up.
Get your cooling system checked
Your car cooling system consists of a number of components all of which are essential to the conversion of heat and its transfer to the air. The cooling system, which is made up of a radiator, fan, upper hose, lower hose, pressure cap, water pump, transmission cooling lines and thermostat, is designed to prevent the engine from overheating so taking care of it is important, particularly during summer.
Calling on a professional to check and fine-tune your cooling system if necessary is important, after all a leaking or poorly operating system is likely to result in overheating and engine damage. Clogged radiators are a common cause of overheating but a cooling system flush will ensure that blockages are cleared and your engine can be cooled effectively. Electric cooling fans also must be checked despite them being specifically developed to only run when needed, and again we can help to ensure that this fan is working as it should.
What to do if your vehicle overheats
Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, vehicles will overheat, especially if you haven’t been keeping up with regular coolant and cooling system maintenance. If your vehicle does begin to show signs of overheating, turn off your air conditioner and open all your windows. If overheating continues, turn on the heater and blower to transfer trapped heat from the engine to the passenger compartment of the car.