22 Dec 15
With a hot Australian summer rapidly approaching, many of us will be planning a road trip to another part of the country. Even if you've not quite committed to a cross-country holiday, chances are you will take a leisurely drive to a different part of the country at least once.
However, driving in hot weather can be lethal if you're not prepared. In a September 2014 interview with ABC, Macquarie University researcher Lucinda Coates explained that heat stress is Australia's biggest natural killer. A few steps to ensure both you and your car are well prepared for a long journey is all it takes to be safer on the roads this summer.
Take care of your car
A little bit of forethought and preparation is the best way to ensure your vehicle survives a long drive in the grinding Australian heat. As a start, a CarHistory report can help you make an informed decision prior to purchasing a used vehicle such as whether it has been previously written off or if the odometer has been tampered with.
It's important to give your car a thorough examination before you begin your trip. Writing in Forbes, with advice from the Automobile Club of Southern California, Jason Fogelson recommends a basic check of the battery, cooling system, tyres and engine fluids2.
Depending on your battery type, you'll either be adjusting fluid and electrolyte levels or just checking the surface for cracks. Any serviceable wet cell batteries should have fluids and electrolytes measures and topped up if they need to be. Maintenance-free gel cell batteries need to be looked over for cracks or other outward signs of damage.
Also make sure all tyres are properly inflated and have the correct amount of tread. The cooling system, which you should hopefully be maintaining according to your car's manual, will need its fluid levels checked. It's also worth checking the strength of all radiator hoses and connections.
If, in spite of all this, your engine does start to overheat, pull over and give it some time to cool down.
Keep your passengers comfortable
Effective air conditioning is incredibly important, both for the comfort of your passengers and for you as the driver. Proper food and drink will be crucial for keeping everyone relaxed on a hot road trip. Keeping an esky full of cold drinks is a great way to keep everyone hydrated and happy.
No matter how well functioning your car may be, there is still a chance that it may break down in hotter weather. It's important to prepare for this scenario also, so keep some survival basics like flares, flashlights and tools, in your boot.
1ABC, Heat is Australia's number one natural killer. Accessed October 2015.
2Forbes, Hot weather driving tips. Accessed October 2015.