The sun is out and temperatures are rising … who doesn't love this time of year? Your van, maybe. Just like people, it can get tired, dehydrated and overheated. Here are our tips for keeping your van healthy in the heat.
The answer to does hot weather affect a vehicle's performance is yes – to a surprising extent. According to insurers Axa, vehicles are 50 per cent more likely to overheat in summer. To help avoid this, check the levels of fluids in your van frequently: coolant is obviously very important, but keep windscreen washer, oil, transmission, brake and power steering fluid all topped up too. Check belts and hoses to ensure they haven't gotten cracked or damaged in the heat.
According to car maintenance product manufacturers Holts, you're 20 per cent more likely to get a puncture when it’s hot, because the heat makes the air inside the tyre expand, causing it to overinflate. Holts recommend checking your tyre pressure every fortnight to make sure it isn't too high. You can find the recommended pressures in your van’s manual, and check them either at a petrol station, or at home with a tyre pressure gauge.
Use the internet to plan the best route and hopefully avoid traffic jams, bearing in mind that main roads may be better maintained than side streets and so better equipped to handle the heat. If you can integrate your smartphone with the van’s infotainment system, you can use live navigation apps like Google Maps or Waze.
If your van looks like it is overheating – the temperature warning light comes on, or heaven forbid, steam starts coming from under the bonnet – pull over as soon as you can do so safely. In the meantime, turn off the air conditioning and open your windows instead, as that will give the engine one less thing to do.
Once you've pulled over, turn off your engine, get all your passengers out of and away from the van, and wait till it’s cooled down before doing anything, including opening the bonnet. Check the coolant level and if it's low, use a cloth to open the lid and top up the fluid with coolant or water. Never remove the cap when the engine is hot – boiling coolant under pressure could cause serious burns.
You should then get the van looked at as soon as possible, unless you are absolutely sure you don't have a coolant leak or other serious malfunction, as an overheating engine can be dangerous and cause serious damage to your van.
If it’s really hot, the tarmac on the road can start to melt and go soft. If this happens, keep your speed down and remember your brakes might not be as effective as normal. The road may also be more slippery than normal if it rains suddenly and heavily after a period of warm weather.
At van traders Vanwise Group, we offer a range of great quality used vans of a variety of makes and models – and they all undergo a thorough mechanical inspection before they go on sale, so they're in tip top condition and ready to take on the British weather. If you'd like to test drive one of them or discuss our used van finance options, get in touch today with dealerships in Maidstone or Harlow.