hot sunlight

Why your car is more likely to break down in summer heatwaves

26th Jul, 2018

Everyone loves a good summer heatwave, especially given our normally mild climate here in the UK. Eventually, though, even our cars start to react to the weather in the same way we do – the heat starts to wear them down! Some parts of your car are particularly vulnerable to the higher temperatures. Below, we’ve tipped you off to exactly what those parts are, and how to stop them from becoming too much of a problem.

Don’t misjudge the power of your battery

The car battery is arguably one of the most common causes of summertime breakdowns. It can also be especially vulnerable to the summer heat because of its makeup. Basically, it contains a liquid mixture of acid and water. Over time, the battery itself generates heat, and during the summer months, the darkness under a metal bonnet can get particularly blistering.

broken down car

This gradually evaporates the liquid in the battery. If these liquid levels get low enough to expose the internal plates of the battery, it can then cause damage to its cells. A battery with damaged cells produces less voltage, which makes it more vulnerable to running down altogether, ultimately leaving you stranded on the side of the road.

So, what exactly can you do about this? To be honest, it depends on the age of your car. Some of the older models (pre-2010) occasionally need their batteries topping up, which is done by simply unscrewing their cap and topping it up with deionised and distilled water. We’re not suggesting you do that, though! Instead, if you’ve got doubts about your car’s battery it’s best to simply take your beloved motor to visit your nearest friendly mechanic, who will check all that stuff for you. At the very worst, a replacement battery might be on the cards. They’re not cheap (often between £50 and to £200), but don’t assume a dead battery means you’ll automatically have to scrap your car!

Four other parts of your car to watch out for

When the mercury soars, your car battery will likely be amongst the major car components to feel the heat. There are a couple more it’s worth keeping an eye on though, too!

1. Tyres

Rubber and intense heat have never got on terribly well together, so it probably won’t surprise you to learn that your tyres can be drastically affected by the heat. They can dry and blow out in particularly intense heat, especially if they’re at the wrong pressure. The heat can make existing minor problems with your tyres a lot worse, so at the very least it’s worth checking their pressure before you hit the road. It should help you avoid any unpleasant surprises at 70mph!

2. Brakes

Your brakes are affected in broadly the same way. Basically, the intense heat can have an effect on their surfaces. This can causes what’s known as ‘brake fading’, where they get gradually less effective over a period of time, increasing your braking distance accordingly. Don’t panic – you’ll generally have a lot of time to notice this effect. The solution is the same: take it to the garage!

car brakes

3. Oil

Just like us, in hotter temperatures our engines need all the fluids they can get! Make sure you’re extra vigilant about your oil levels and changes in the summer months. More frequent changes will help your car to run smoother for longer. Trust us – in a heatwave like this, you’ll know when it’s not!

4. Fuel

In some ways, this ties into what we were just saying about oil. Similarly, in hotter weather, your fuel can evaporate more quickly, which can make your car marginally less efficient. To counteract this, take it easy on the accelerator as much as you can. Cutting your speed by just 10 miles an hour can have a noticeable impact on your fuel efficiency. To be honest, it’s a good habit to get into in general!

The good news is that in the grand scheme of things, most of these issues are relatively minor. If your vehicle is properly struggling in the heat, it takes a wise person to recognise when it’s starting to give up the ghost. And if you’ve decided it’s finally time to scrap your car, we’re exactly the people to help! We’ve designed our process so that it’s as simple and as streamlined as possible. All we need is your car reg and postcode, and you’ll find yourself looking at your very own instant online quote.

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