Cool Tips for Driving in Hot Weather

Driving in the summer heat is not just unpleasant: High temperatures can also impair concentration at the wheel and ultimately increase the risk of an accident. Experts at DEKRA are offering tips on how drivers can protect themselves from the worst of the summer heat that we have been facing these past few days.

DEKRA hot summer sun inside
  • Do not set the air-conditioning system too cool
  • Protect yourself from direct exposure to sunlight
  • Never leave children and pets alone in the car

Check the air-conditioning system before starting
The air-conditioning system in a car is especially important on long vacation trips. So that the trip goes smoothly, the function of the system should be checked as a precaution before starting the vacation. If it has been a while since the air-conditioning was last used or there is an unpleasant smell coming from the ventilation, it is helpful to carry out another check beforehand.

Do not set the air-conditioning system too cool
Even in strong heat, the driver should not set air-conditioning system in the car too cool, i.e. the temperature inside the vehicle should not be more than six to eight degrees below the ambient temperature. If the difference is too great, it can cause strain on the circulatory system when exiting the vehicle. Important: The cooling airflow should not be pointed directly at the body. This can lead to an unpleasant summer cold.

Protect yourself from direct exposure to sunlight
It is recommended to wear light, comfortable clothing. Passengers—especially children—also need the best possible protection from direct exposure to sunlight. Sun protection mats and roller blinds on the windows are helpful here; however, the sun protection may not be attached either to the windshield or to the two side windows at the front. During the trip, it should also be possible to see out of the rear window. Transparent roller blinds are beneficial here.

Eliminate build-up of heat
The quickest way to eliminate the build-up of heat in a hot car is to open the doors and tailgate wide for one to two minutes. In the first minutes of the trip, passengers should still leave the windows open. Then, the windows should be closed, the air-conditioning system should be turned on, and the vehicle should be cooled down with circulating air, a strong blower, and a low temperature. Once the desired temperature is reached, the driver can readjust it and switch to the fresh air supply again.

DEKRA hot summer sun outside

Take more frequent breaks
Good timing can also reduce the strain from heat, for example, taking longer breaks during the hottest hours of the day, preferably at a cool rest area. Light physical movement restores balance and keeps you awake.

Drink enough
Heat outside, dry air from the air-conditioning system inside: Only drinking a sufficient amount will help against this. The most digestible drinks are non-carbonated mineral water, fruit juices, and herbal teas, which should not be too cold. Fruit, vegetables, and light snacks are suitable things to eat.

Never leave children alone in the car in hot weather
Leaving children or pets alone in the car in the summer heat is a “no-go”—even if you are just making a quick purchase, warns DEKRA. Strong exposure to sunlight can quickly turn the vehicle into a furnace, which can be life-threatening for a child. Caution: Plastic cladding from child car seats can heat up considerably if exposed to direct sunlight, which can lead to it burning children.

Change tire pressure
Long vacation trips in the summer heat also place high demands on the vehicle technology. It is important to have a higher tire pressure that has been adjusted to the load, measured when the tires are cold. Otherwise, there is the risk of damage to the tires during long trips in the heat. The remaining technology, especially the engine cooling system and brakes, must also be functioning correctly.