Here’s how to stay cool (and safe) in your car during the heatwave

A woman behind the wheel, wiping her forehead in the heat

That moment when you just want a cool pool, but you have to drive to work/visit family/pick up a package that wasn’t delivered (Picture: Getty

Getting into a hot car during a heatwave isn’t one of life’s most pleasurable sensations — it’s almost like going to a sauna with all your clothes on.

Most of us immediately open all the doors and try to let some air circulate, but Ultimately, if the outside air is 35°C or even hotter, your car will not become a relaxing oasis.

Even after you start driving it doesn’t stop your problems as the car may overheat or have problems on the road due to the temperature.

Roadside assistance AA has put together some tips for making driving safer and more comfortable in the heat, and at the top of the list is keeping plenty of water in the car, which can keep you from getting dehydrated when stuck in traffic stay or collapse.

Mark Born of AA Driving School’s Instructor Training Academy said the hot weather makes cars more prone to overheating, so people should know the basics of how to deal with this situation.

Counterintuitively, people should turn down the air conditioning and turn up the heat if the engine seems to be overheating.

Today’s weather forecast was muggy (Picture: Met Office)

This is because the air conditioning uses energy from the car and the heater pulls hot air away from the engine area, helping to cool it down.

You may see a warning light or high temperature gauge to alert you that the engine is overheating.

It is also recommended not to raise the hood immediately, as hot air and steam underneath can be dangerous. Instead, wait at least 15 minutes before attempting to add coolant, if present.

Mr Born added other ways to prepare for a drive in the heat: “Check you have enough fuel for the trip.

“EV drivers should make sure they have enough charge to survive unexpected queues with the AC on full blast.

“If you’re planning a route that includes stops to load or rest, find out about traffic incidents before you drive to avoid delays.”

Something many of us have wondered is whether it is better to cool off with the windows open or use the air conditioning.

And when it comes to fuel or energy consumption, it is obviously better to cool the car with air conditioning when driving at high speed.

This is because the wind resistance created by open windows uses more gas than running the air conditioner.

However, if you’re just cruising around town, you should use less fuel with the windows open.

It’s just not driving weather…unless you have a convertible. Photo shows Weymouth Beach yesterday as temperatures hit 30C in England (Image: Getty)

The AA also said people should dress appropriately when driving so as not to get too hot.

Riding barefoot is allowed, but not recommended, as you have to operate the pedals safely.

Sweaty feet could slip on them and not grip them properly or press down with the right amount of pressure.

Light-colored clothing that is not too thick can be more comfortable in the heat.

People may also consider freezing bottled water to take with them, which stays cooler longer even if it melts.

“Passengers can press the bottle against their wrists or forehead,” the AA said.

They also recommended taking sealed ice packs or wet wipes in the car to keep them a few inches from the vents for instant air conditioning.

Paper trays can be stored in the glove box if needed, while you can splash water on the steering wheel and let it evaporate to cool it down before driving off.

“If you must park in the sun, place a windshield sunshade on your dashboard to reflect solar heat and pull down any window sunshades,” the AA added.

They said you can also cover the steering wheel with a spare dish towel or towel to keep it from getting even hotter, while exposed metal on the seats that gets very hot, like seat belt buckles and child seat belt fittings, can also be covered.

Of course, you should never leave children or pets alone in a hot car.

Every year there are stories of dogs dying while being left in vehicles that appear like greenhouses and can get dangerously hot in a short period of time – even if it’s not super hot outside.

After half an hour at 21°C, the temperature in a car can reach over 40°C.

Officially, if you see a child or dog in distress in a hot car, you should dial 999 immediately and ask for the police, who can provide further advice.

Also, remember that car windows don’t block UV rays, so pack sunscreen as well.

The weather this week is getting so hot that gritters are on standby to scatter light sand dusts on the roads that can get so hot that the asphalt is melting.

Those most likely to be affected are areas with older road surfaces, in rural areas and in southern exposure.

The sand is designed to soak up the excess bitumen, making the surface easier to drive on.

All motorists who find tar on their tires are advised to wash it off with warm, soapy water.

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Justin Scacco

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