Our 10 Best Summer Driving Tips

Ah, summer. The roads are free of slush and salt and the driving is easy!

Or is it? When it comes to driving in summer, you’ll be facing some unique challenges. Whether you’re on a summer road trip or just getting around town, these helpful hints will make driving safer for you...and your car.

summer driving ottawa

Safety and Sanity

1. Before Road Trips, Give Your Car a Checkup

If you’re travelling any long distances, take your car to your mechanic and have it checked over. Ask them to check hot-weather essentials like coolant levels and (surprise) your battery charge. It’s true - hot weather is almost as hard on your battery as being left idle in cold weather.

If a part is about to fail, it can be replaced or repaired in advance. While that may sound like an unnecessary expense to some, I would rather get it fixed than spend part of my precious vacation time waiting by the side of the road for a tow truck.

Take a few minutes and hop online and do a check for recalls. The fastest way is to go to your car manufacturer’s website or just Google “car name recalls”.

2. Are We There Yet?

If you’re taking a road trip with small children, be sure to bring some activities to keep them busy.

Planning ahead can be a sanity saver as well. Look at your route in advance, and try to find places where they can not only stop to relieve their tiny bladders, but run around and get their ya-yas out for half an hour or so. Petting zoos, giant anything sculptures, or even just a picnic area can give them a breath of fresh air and a healthy exercise break they need.

It may take you longer to get there, but everyone will be a lot happier when you do. You may find that you appreciate the break just as much as they do.

3. Heavy Loads

If you’re doing some projects at home or taking recreational vehicles to the cottage, you may be taking advantage of trailers. Be sure to check your car’s manual before hitching up, and don’t be tempted to haul more weight than your car or the trailer is rated for.

Similarly, be sure to secure your load, whether it’s on a trailer or in the back of your car. Don’t overload your car or truck with precariously stacked items. Be especially careful of large, flat items that can come loose at high speeds and potentially crash into cars behind you. Don’t forget to add a red flag to anything that extends past your vehicle, and let other, faster vehicles pass you.

4. Under Pressure

With summer driving, tire pressure becomes even more important. On the icy streets of winter, a little extra give in your tires can increase your ability to stick to slippery surfaces. In summer, you’re just wasting gas and throwing money out the window.

Don’t overinflate, however. In fact, in hot weather check to make sure your tires don’t have too much pressure, or your risk a blowout.

5. Leave No One Behind

In the last few years, the news has been full of tragic stories of kids, seniors and dogs who’ve died of heat exhaustion in parked cars. Don’t leave anyone, two-legged or four, in a parked car in the sun for even a few minutes. On a hot sunny day, the temperature inside a car can climb over 50°C in minutes.

What should you do if you see someone else’s child left in a parked car? This article says call 911 - but if the child is clearly in distress it may be better to get them out and if needed face the consequences later. Remember if you need to break a window, don’t break the one right next to the child - choose the one furthest away from them to avoid hitting them with flying glass.

Aside from heat exhaustion, kids can also get into trouble with seat belts, power windows and some have occasionally even been kidnapped. If your feel you can’t bring your child shopping with you, get a sitter.

6. Keep Your Cool in Construction Season

In Ottawa we have a joke about how we have two seasons: winter, and construction.

When you see a construction zone, slow down and be patient. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but remember that construction crews are working hard in the hot sun to make the road better for you.

At Bemac, we think road crews are heroes. They're resurfacing our bumpy, pothole-ridden roads and making them easier on our cars.

7. Share the Road with Cyclists

With the warm weather, cyclists hit the road and start pedalling. As the larger vehicle, it’s your job to give them the 3 feet of clearance required by Ontario law. With power comes responsibility, so take the “high road” every time, even if the cyclist is being a bit of a cowboy (believe me, I’ve seen my fair share of idiot cyclists). Just remember: one more cyclist on the road means one less car in your way!

When parked on a road, check your left-hand rear view mirror to avoid “dooring” a cyclist who’s travelling next to you. Also, check your right-hand rear view mirror before turning right to avoid cutting them off.

Preserving Your Car

8. Keep your Car Protected from Rust, Even in Summer

When we think of rust, we think of salty winter roads. And that’s true, but once it takes hold rust continues to get worse in the summer. That’s because rust just needs exposed steel and oxygen to keep happening...which explains its technical name, oxidation.

Here at Bemac, we’re huge fans of Krown rustproofing treatments. We get them on our cars twice a year: spring and fall. The good thing about a summer treatment is that the heat will melt it a bit, ensuring it oozes into all those little crevices between parts.

9. Don’t Bug Out

Possibly the most disgusting part of summer driving is the thousands of insects smashed onto the front of your car. It’s not only ugly, but the acids from their remains can damage your paint and lead to rust.

It’s not as much of a problem in urban areas, but if you intend to do any rural driving at all, consider getting paint protection film. We love the results we get with XPEL. It will also help a little bit with flying bits of gravel, although in all honesty nothing can protect you fully from that.

10. Put Your Best Foot Forward

Summer is a great time to get your car professionally detailed, because the results will last. Few things make you feel better when you’re stepping out on a beautiful summer evening than having your car look as good as possible. Check out our detailing service - makes a great gift! >

Stay Safe, Pretty, and Drama-Free

From overheating to road racing motorcycles to flying gravel, summer driving can be a challenge to you and your car. If you get a tuneup and follow our hints, however, you’ll be much more prepared to come out ahead. After all, summer is the season when driving should be more fun!

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