Air con

Why you may find a pool of water under your car in hot weather

Parked car in summerWith the summer weather now finally turning into a heatwave, some motorists may be alarmed to find pools of water beneath their cars – sometimes with drips still falling from the engine bay.

But don’t worry. Chances are, it doesn’t mean the radiator has sprung a leak and the car is about to overheat. You can take your head out of your hands.

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Rather, it’s most likely to be water dripping from the air conditioning system – and there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.

It is caused by the air conditioning compressor working hard in hot weather: due to thermodynamics, the unit itself can freeze over as it takes moisture out of the car.

Air con

When the car is parked and the air con unit deactivated, the ice on its surface melts: this is what causes the puddle under the car (and the hotter the weather, the bigger and more alarming-looking the puddle may be…).

RAC spokesman Pete Williams revealed the motoring organisation had received lots of calls from drivers worried by pools of water under their cars.

“The advice is to check whether this is simply odourless water of if it has coolant in and a clear smell and colour.

If it’s is the former, then there should be no need to worry.”

Hopefully, that’s panic over. Meaning it’s only the sunshine that will leave you hot under the collar during this heatwave. 

Car crash

Charged by authorities for a road crash? Contest it!

Car crashMotorists hit with surprise bills from authorities for road repairs following an accident should contest them, advises a claims management company – because five-figure sums are there to be saved.

Citing a “shocking lack of transparency”, Kent claims firm CMA says the repairs bills from local councils, Highways England, Transport for London or associated contractors should always be studied carefully because “we frequently see cases of serious overcharging”.

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If you damage Crown property in a road traffic accident, the authorities are fully entitled to charge you: this can be for hitting a motorway barrier or traffic sign, or even damaging the road surface. These bills can go to drivers, fleet operators or directly to insurers.

But because some Highways England contractors are acting in an informal environment, says CMA MD Philip Swift (himself a former police detective), it’s questionable “whether many of the costs being presented are accurate.

“In a not insignificant number of cases, no payment is warranted at all.”

Examples include a fleet operator that was hit with a £46,000 barrier repair bill from Highways England. The claims firm pointed out the length had been incorrectly detailed in yards when it should have been listed in feet: the entire claim was subsequently written off.

Another insurer was presented with an eye-watering £56,000 repair bill for resurfacing a road in the south east: CMA used a Freedom of Information request to uncover a larger such contaminant spill had been rectified in Scotland for just £750.

Even smaller claims can be significantly reduced: CMA cut a £4,700 bill by 85% to £700. Indeed, bills below a £10,000 threshold are often issued by contractors rather than directly by authorities and these are often the most problematic.

“Rather than simply paying it, engage a specialist to scrutinise the invoice,” advises CMA.

Funeral cortege

How should drivers deal with a funeral procession?

Funeral cortegeMost drivers have no idea what to do when they encounter a funeral procession and risk showing grieving families a hurtful lack of respect, a survey has revealed.

The CEO of Wilcox Limousines, Paul Wilcox, has thus produced an etiquette guide to help the 91% of motorists who admit their not fully sure what to do when they come across a funeral procession.

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“People tend to be in a great hurry to get where they need to be,” said Wilcox.

“Funeral directors can certainly appreciate this, (but) does it hurt too slow down for a few minutes out of respect for a life once lived?

Some may find it surprising that such instances occur, but nearly 200 funeral directors polled say otherwise: 59% believe Brits are simply unaware of good funeral cortege etiquette.

Wilcox has thus written a five-point guide to help motorists refresh the good etiquette appreciated in funereal corteges:

  1. Grant a funeral procession right of way when driving
  2. All funeral corteges move at a slow pace. Never overtake or cut into a procession
  3. Wait until all the cars in the procession have passed before using a pelican crossing
  4. Turn down any in-car musing as a cortege passes
  5. Roadside workers should try to bring all work to a temporary stop as the procession passes

“Put yourselves in the shoes of a grieving family,” added Wilcox. “Would you like a beeping car horn or an aggressive overtaking manoeuvre to interrupt your mourning if you were in their place?”

Hot dogs in cars heatwave safety warning

Heatwave warning: dogs die in hot cars

Hot dogs in cars heatwave safety warning

As temperatures rise for Britain’s latest summer heatwave, pet owners are being warned dogs can die in a hot car in just 15 minutes.

GEM Motoring Assist is thus reminding owners not to leave dogs unattended in cars even for just a few minutes: because they can’t cool down as easily as humans, it doesn’t take long for a dog to become seriously ill if left in a hot car.

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Indeed, even if you’re comfortable in the car, your dog may not be, particularly as it can often be hotter in the front of the car, near the cooling vents, than it is in the back.

Road safety officer Neil Worth thus advices dog owners to keep a careful eye on their pet as they travel, and use sunblinds where possible to keep the sun’s heat off them.

But while he advices opening a window, don’t open it fully – “they need to be kept secure in the car” and so having their head out the window is a no-no. It’s also not advisable not have a dog sitting on someone’s lap, both because of the safety dangers but also because someone’s body heat will make the dog even warmer.

If you have to park up, advises Worth, try to find a shaded area… but he strongly advises not to leave your dog in the car even for a short period. “Even leaving your dog in the car while you nip into a motorway service station for a sandwich and a loo visit can cause danger to your pet.”

Be alert for dogs in danger too: if you do see a dog in a car that you’re concerned about, first try to alert the owner but also consider calling the police. The RSPCA also has a 24-hour helpline: 0300 1234 999.

French autoroute

Travelling to France? Do not stock up on fuel in cans warns RAC

French autorouteMotorists travelling to France for the Bank Holiday weekend are being warned NOT to stock up in the UK on fuel in cans before they travel – because not only is it dangerous, it’s also illegal.

The RAC is warning drivers that French authorities only permit motorists to bring 10 litres of additional fuel into the country. “That is only enough to drive around 70 to 100 miles,” says the RAC’s Simon Williams, “and therefore may not be that helpful for holidaymakers who are driving long distances.”

Not only that, ferry operators such as P&O do not permit the carrying of any additional fuel in cans. Others only allow a maximum of 5 litres.

The RAC adds that it’s not a good idea to carry petrol or diesel for prolonged periods anyway – and it’s certainly not sensible to store it up if your car’s in a confined space such as a ferry or train.

Williams said the French government insists it’s committed to swiftly resolving the fuel issue – but “though fuel stations do have supplies of petrol and diesel, motorists should expect delays and rationing in the next few days”.

Latest reports are that filling stations are using France’s strategic oil stocks, reserves last used in 2010, as the dispute with the CGT union drags on. Striking workers are preventing fuel tankers from loading and unloading.

Are you travelling to France this Bank Holiday weekend? Let us know how you get on