Driving in hot weather

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How to drive in hot weather

We don’t get much sunshine in the UK, so when the sun comes out we all want to get out and make the most of the good weather! But if you’re going to be driving in hot weather, there are a few things you need to know to make your journey as smooth and comfortable as possible.

So keep scrolling for our top tips for summer drives, from how to stock up your car for summer and how to drive in the heat to which sunglasses you should wear to avoid sun glare (heads up: wearing some sunnies behind the wheel is illegal!). Then go to the Cuvva app to get short-term car insurance… did someone say summer road trip?

Stock up your car for summer

Pop these things in your car today so you’re prepared whatever the weather this summer:

  • Sunglasses (scroll down for more info on choosing the right ones)
  • A handheld fan in case the air-con cuts out
  • Sun cream, because yes you can get sunburnt through a car window
  • A sunshade for the windscreen - no more searching for shady parking spaces
  • A water bottle so you can stay hydrated wherever you go
  • A light coat and umbrella, because we all know how unpredictable British weather can be
  • Car snacks that won’t melt in the heat - more on that in our guide to the best car snacks
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Did you know it’s illegal to drive while wearing certain types of sunglasses?
Did you know it’s illegal to drive while wearing certain types of sunglasses?

Top tips for sunny drives

Whether you’re just popping to the shops or you’re taking a summer road trip, here are our top tips for a driving in hot weather:

Check your tyre pressure

Car maintenance is key to keeping things running smoothly and avoiding costly repairs, whatever the weather.

It’s a good idea to regularly check your tyre pressure in the summer months, because hot weather will increase the air pressure inside them. If they’re overinflated, your tyres will wear more quickly and be more likely to blow out.

So check them often - your car’s owner’s manual will tell you what pressure they need to be. If your car has an in-built ‘tyre pressure monitoring system’ (TPMS), you’ll get a warning light on the dashboard if they’re outside of the recommended range. If not, it takes minutes to measure your tyre pressure with a pressure gauge - you’ll find them at most petrol stations.

Watch out for overheating

While you’re checking your tyres, take a look at your engine coolant levels too. Coolant is a mixture of water and antifreeze that stops your car’s engine overheating, and it often has to work overtime during the summer months.

So make sure your coolant levels are topped up before you go on a long drive. And while you’re on the road, keep your eyes on the temperature gauge while you’re on the road. If it starts heading towards ‘hot’, pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so and call for roadside assistance, as it’s likely your engine is overheating.

Plan your route carefully

A picnic in the park is a great way to spend a sunny Saturday - but remember, it’s likely that loads of other people will have the same idea. If you don’t want to waste the day sat in traffic, take a few minutes to plan your route before you go. And if you’re going on a longer drive in summer, plan regular stops along the way. Stopping off at a service station means you can stretch your legs and get a drink - or top up on your sun cream if you need to!

Get breakdown cover

Hot weather puts a lot of extra strain on cars, which can make small issues with your car become bigger problems. Pumping the air conditioning and plugging in your devices on a long drive can place added pressure on the battery, for example. High temperatures can also cause the oil pressure to drop, which can damage your engine.

So when you get on the road this summer, take out breakdown cover to make sure your trip doesn’t end earlier than planned. You can add breakdown cover to any Cuvva policy in just a few clicks - totally worth it for the extra peace of mind!

Be savvy with the air-con

We know there’s nothing worse than getting into a hot, stuffy car, but it’s worth driving with the windows down before you switch the air conditioning on. Why? If you’re driving at less than around 40mph, driving with the windows open is typically more fuel-efficient than turning on the air con. Once you go over that 40mph mark, the increased drag on your car means it’s best to put the windows up and use air conditioning instead. It’s not an exact science - the type of car you drive will make a difference - but generally, 40mph is a good reference to keep in mind if you’re keen to save fuel.

Leave your car in the shade

Before you head off to have fun, try to find a shady spot to park your car in. It might sound obvious, but leaving your car out of the sun is the best way to stop that horrible, stuffy heat building up while you’re away. Or buy a sunshade for the windscreen - they can reduce the heat in your car by up to 25%!

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Make sure your coolant levels are topped up before a summer road trip
Make sure your coolant levels are topped up before a summer road trip

Driving in bright or low sunlight

Whenever you go for a drive in summer, don’t set off without your sunglasses. The glare from the sun can make it hard to see the road ahead, which means you could miss a potential hazard and have an accident. So driving with sunglasses doesn’t just make you look cool - it could help to keep you safe on the road, too.

But did you know it’s actually illegal to wear some types of sunglasses while you’re driving? Category 4 sunglasses have such a dark tint, you can’t see the road properly when you’re wearing them. So check your sunnies before you drive in them - categories 1-3 should be fine for driving.

Never leave kids or pets in the car

On warm days, it’s not safe to leave children or pets unattended in the car for any length of time. Temperatures inside a car can reach double that of the temperature outside the car in a matter of minutes, which can lead to heatstroke and devastating outcomes for children and animals.

And you can’t get away with leaving the air conditioning on for them, either, because the air con could break or turn off while you’re gone.

So don’t take the risk. If you’re getting out of the car, take them with you.

Car insurance fit for any weather

Whatever the weather, you must have insurance when you drive in summer - even if it’s just for one hour. Cuvva’s temporary car insurance is perfect for borrowing or lending - and for experienced or learner drivers alike.

Whatever you're after, it only takes a few minutes to get a quote.

Updated on 18th June 2023