Prefer to speak to someone? Call
it’s FREE from landlines & mobiles

Summer Driving Tips

Last updated:

Most people know about the dangers of driving in winter, with the difficult conditions caused by ice, cold and poor visibility, but summer driving can be just as hazardous.

If you are prepared and ready for the driving conditions you will face in the summer it will make your journey a lot easier and the potential for unexpected problems a lot less.

Summer driving

Plan your journeys

If you have a long drive ahead of you, plan it to make it more interesting. You can stop along the way at various attractions, or even just stop and take a break. If you have children, having a rest will make the journey more bearable.

In the summer most people are more likely to be making long journeys to go on holiday. If you are going to do this, treat the journey seriously. Stop every 3 hours and have a 20 minute break, use this break to have a sleep if you are tired or to stretch your legs and get out of the car.

Stop in dedicated stopping areas such as motorway service stations, remember it is prohibited to stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway unless it is an emergency.

  • Top tip! Have 20 minute breaks every 3 hours.

Don't completely rely on satellite navigation

On long journeys take a map with you and don't solely rely on your GPS. If your GPS breaks down you don't want to be lost without being able to find your way around. You could even plan your route on a map before you set off so you understand where you are going. With satellite navigation it is easy just to drive without really understanding where you are going. This might not be very safe in an emergency.

  • Top tip! Always carry a map with you.

Check your tyres

When the weather is hot it can have a damaging effect on your tyres. If you're tyres aren't in the best condition, then when the tyre is heated up to a high temperature it is much easier for it to suffer a puncture.

You can check your tyres yourself or take your car to a local garage who will be able to judge their condition. The same goes for any trailer or caravan that you are towing, poor quality tyres can be dangerous so make sure they are in good order.

  • Top tip! Check your tyres yourself.

Sun

Sunny road

This could be classified as a winter driving problem too but low sun can be dangerous when driving. It is useful to have some sunglasses you are comfortable driving in always ready so you can cover your eyes from the sun's glare.

The sun can also make dirt on your windscreen obscure your view by shining directly onto it. Keep your windscreen clean as much as you can to avoid this. Take some screen wash with you so you can easily wipe down your windscreen frequently.

  • Top tip! Keep sunglasses close.

Carry water with you

In the summer it is always best to carry water with you on your journey. If you break down in hot weather and don't have water with you, you could start to become dehydrated. This is especially true if you have children with you.

If you are driving in Europe, this can be even more important. In the UK we aren't used to extremely hot weather so we tend to forget to be as prepared as we should be. Always take bottles of water in the car with you and keep them cool.

  • Top tip! Carry a cool box to keep water cool.

Keep your car topped up

As important as it is to keep yourself topped up with water, you should keep your car topped up with it too. This means that you should make sure the water levels are high, as well the oil levels, and that you have enough petrol for your journey. Breaking down in the heat of a hot day is something you can avoid if you prepare properly. Remember even if you have air conditioning in your car, if you break down the chances are your air conditioning will stop working too, leaving you stuck in a hot car.

  • Top tip! Remember your car needs water too.

Think before you leave your car

It is extremely important that you don't leave children inside a hot car, take them with you when you leave. The same is true for anyone, not just children. No-one should be left in a hot car, because they can over-heat which can be seriously damaging to their health. Dogs can be left in the car with a window open for a short period, however it is better to take them with you when you leave too. If you aren't used to dealing with hot conditions it can be easy to forget that you have left your pet in the car.

  • Top tip! Think, never leave children or animals inside a hot car.

Always carry a first aid kit

First aid kit

Carrying the essentials that you might need in an emergency is important throughout the year, not just in the summer. You can buy first aid kits or make one up yourself that is small enough to pack easily into a car.

  • Top tip! Put together your own first aid kit.

Travelling at peak times

If you are travelling in the school summer holidays, expect delays, especially on the first weekends of the holidays. If you have children, take books and games that will entertain them on the trip. Make sure you are stocked up with more food and drink than you will need on an ordinary journey. If you are prepared for a longer journey than you think, you should be covered for unexpected traffic jams or other delays.

  • Top tip! Plan when you are travelling ahead of time.

Make sure you have adequate breakdown cover

Before you set off on your journey, ensure that you are covered if your car should break down. If you don't have cover, then use our guide to help you choose the right breakdown cover for you. If you are driving in Europe then it may be a good idea to cover yourself if you breakdown on the continent. Most of the large providers will be able to offer you European cover for your journey, even if it's a short trip.

Summer driving should be a pleasure if you have everything planned properly, and take everything with you that you might need. If you are taking a long journey make sure your car is fully prepared for the trip, and your journey should be enjoyable.

  • Top tip! Look out for special offers from breakdown companies.

What not to forget when driving in the summer

  • Planning your journey properly, don't forget to research where you are going.
  • Don't forget your map, satellite navigation on it's own won't be enough.
  • Don't forget to have a first aid kit in your car.
  • Don't forget the sun cream for both you and your children.
  • Try not to forget to avoid driving during peak times, especially in high temperatures.
  • Don't forget to have your car serviced and to make sure it's roadworthy.
  • Remember to take water with you.
  • Is your car fit for the road in the summer?

    So now you know to prepare for summer driving, is your car prepared for it? And do you know how to prepare your car for it?

    Topping up oil

    Here's some tips on how to get your car ready for a long summer journey:

    Air conditioning

    If you are on a long trip it is obviously going to be a huge inconvenience if this breaks. Most of us aren't used to driving without air conditioning in our cars any more.

    Take your car to your local garage to have the air conditioning checked out, especially if you are driving an old car and haven't had the air conditioning system tested for a while. Little use in the winter can often mean that when you turn it on for the first time in the summer it might not work.

    Coolant

    Your engine is at risk of overheating in the summer, especially on long journeys. Engine coolant levels should not go down, so if you notice that it starts to drop, ask a mechanic to take a look at it. This is important, so it is always best to ask for expert help.

    Keep the air circulating in your car

    Good circulation in a car is important in the summer. If your air filters become very clogged with dirt and debris it could allow pollen, dust and dirt into the car which will won't be pleasant when you are driving even short distances. Make sure to have these checked and replaced if needed before any summer driving.