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Fact or fiction? 5 summer driving myths busted

If you do your research, you'll find lots of guidance about driving in the summer months — but which stories are actually true and which ones are urban myths? We've looked at some of the most common pieces of advice to help you sort the fact from fiction.

1. If your car overheats, use the heaters to cool the engine down

Feet poking out of a car window at the seaside.

If you find yourself stuck in traffic on a hot day, there's a danger your car can overheat. This can cause severe damage to your engine, and in some cases even write your car off. Most car insurance policies won't cover you for this type of damage, so avoid unnecessary repair costs by knowing what to do if the temperature gauge starts rising.

A quick fix is to turn the heating on full. This will help to draw the heat away from the engine — but it won't solve the problem. The safest thing to do is find somewhere safe to pull over and turn your engine off. Let the car cool down for at least half an hour and then check your coolant levels, topping it up with water if you need to.

2. It's illegal to drive barefoot or in flip flops

Contrary to what many people think, it's not against the law to drive barefoot or in flip flops. However, the DVSA say:

"Suitable shoes are particularly important behind the wheel. We would not recommend driving barefoot because you don't have the same braking force with bare feet as you do with shoes on."

And if you do choose to drive barefoot, you must do it safely. Putting yourself, your passengers and other road users in danger by driving with wet feet, for example, would be illegal and could affect your insurance should you need to make a claim.

3. It's OK to leave a dog in the car if it's not sunny

While it's not illegal to leave your dog in a car, it is against the law to mistreat an animal in your care. Many people believe it's ok if you're parked in the shade and the windows are left open but this is a myth. A car can become as hot as an oven very quickly, and a bearable 22 degrees outside can reach a shocking 47 degrees inside a car.

The Dogs Trust advice is never leave your dog in a parked car during the summer, even for a few minutes.

4. Hot roads cause problems with your tyres

A spell of hot, dry weather can cause damage to your car's tyres. Make sure to regularly check for any cracks or wear and tear, as on a hot day the air inside your tyre will expand and any weak spots can cause a blowout. You must also keep an eye on the tyre pressure — if an over-inflated tyre expands more in the heat you increase the chance of a blowout or even an accident, as the handling of your car will be seriously affected. Similarly, an under-inflated tyre will reduce your control, increasing braking distances and your risk of skidding.

5. Using the air conditioning uses more fuel

The short answer to this is — yes it does. But it will depend on what type of journey you're doing and what type of distance you're going. The air conditioning is powered by the engine, which will naturally have to work harder with the air con running. This will reduce the number of miles the car can travel on a given amount of fuel.

Shorter journeys will burn more fuel because the air conditioning has to work harder to cool the interior quickly. Longer journeys are far more economical as, once the internal temperature has cooled, it's easier to maintain at that level.

That said, the fuel consumption increase is relatively minimal and, in the grand scheme of things, is worth it for a comfortable drive on a hot day.

Car insurance

While most of these things aren't illegal, the police can still fine you or issue you with a warning for driving without due care and attention. If this happens, you must declare it to your insurer and you may find the cost of your insurance goes up.

At Hastings Direct we pride ourselves on offering quality insurance at competitive prices. We offer car policies that are Defaqto 5 star rated and come with a range of great benefits as standard.

Get a quote today and see how much you could save.