The reasons for car breakdowns change between winter and summer, and problems that occur in warmer weather are often more serious because the heat tends to put stress on critical components.
Here are the five most common faults encountered in the summer.
1. Water leaks
Drivers often think it’s all right to only occasionally top up their coolant because they can’t see a leak. However, in warmer weather, cars need more from their cooling systems and this can expose weaknesses. Before you know it, slight weeping from a failed seal can become a full leak.
Potential problem: Overheating
2: Low oil pressure
In hot weather, engine oil has to work harder. However, as temperatures rise, oil becomes less viscous and this means that instead of a being nice thick substance that sticks to all the moving parts and lubricates them, it becomes watery. When oil doesn’t lubricate effectively, mechanical components like the crankshaft and camshafts take more punishment.
Potential problem: Catastrophic engine failure
3: Rubber belt failure
A car’s lights, windscreen wipers and sound system are powered by the battery. The battery is kept charged by the alternator, and the alternator is driven by a rubber belt. This belt often drives the air-conditioning and water pump too. In hot weather, the air-con and water pump have to work harder, and if the rubber belt is damaged or is starting to perish, it can easily snap. This means no cooling system and no charge in the battery.
Potential problem: Overheating, flat battery
4: Brakes and clutches
The hotter that frictional components like braking systems and clutches get, the more likely it is that their surfaces will change. This means they won’t grip what they’re supposed to and so won’t work properly. Another reason brake systems fail is because brake fluid has gone beyond its useful life.
Potential problem: Brake fade
High temperatures can aggravate existing tyre damage, and under-inflation can cause even more problems. The increased friction from the road generates even more heat, which can prove too much for weak spots.
If you’re driving anywhere on holiday, check your tyre condition and pressures and make necessary adjustments for any extra loads.
Potential problem: Punctures and blow-outs