Warm summer weekends and festivals are causes for celebration, but there are a couple of things drivers should bear in mind, as our guide details
With more than 100,000 people travelling to Glastonbury Festival by car this weekend – and with temperatures set to soar to the high twenties – carwow is warning revellers of the heat and fire risks to watch out for. Dangers include everything from hot exhausts brushing against long grass, to water bottles left in a parked car concentrating the sun’s rays to the point of ignition.
Avoid any summertime sadness and read our top festival tips for keeping your car safe, while you look good on the dance floor:
1. Don’t be a rocket man – watch out for exhaust ignition
Make sure if you’re driving to the festival, that you park in a designated area and avoid parking up on long grass that’s not an official parking spot.
Doing this in a petrol or diesel car presents risks, with car exhausts reaching 200°C – easily hot enough to ignite grass if it’s tall enough to reach the exhaust. It’s also worth pointing out that brake discs can reach 500°C after heavy use, so bear this in mind if you’ve been driving in a spirited fashion. Festival traffic wardens will direct you to official parking spaces, while parking permits are available to purchase at the gates.
2. Oh, sweet tyre of mine!
It’s not just a car’s exhaust that poses a fire risk: if the ground is really dry, friction from a car’s tyres spinning on desiccated grass can be enough to create smouldering. The clue in the word ‘burnout’ is likely to put people off deliberately spinning their wheels, but really dry grass is a low friction surface, so a gentle, cautious approach should be taken when moving off if you have to park on short grass.
3. Mirror, mirror on the dash – focus on reflections
Lizzo might blame it on the juice, but while car wing and rear-view mirrors tend to be convex and concave mirrors are the ones that can concentrate the sun’s rays to the point of ignition, other items found in the car can cause a fire if you get unlucky with solar angles.
There have been documented cases of child-monitoring mirrors attached to the back of headrests causing vehicle fires, while spectacles, water bottles and even shiny alloy wheels can focus the sun’s rays on a concentrated enough area to start a fire. Think about what you’re leaving in the car, where these items are placed and where you’re parking to minimise your risks.
4. Before you go – portable electronics pose risks, too
Think like Lewis Capaldi and, before you go, make sure you’re not leaving portable electronics in direct sunlight and instead take everything with you – even sat-navs.
Personal electronics typically come with warnings about maximum safe operating temperatures, and these are often around 32°C or so. But car interiors can reach up to 60°C in summer due to the greenhouse effect, and such highs not only pose a risk of damaging laptops, phones and the like, but also increase the dangers of batteries overheating and starting a fire. Placing these items out of direct sunlight in a glovebox or cubbyhole doesn’t overcome this, either, as such compartments can get almost as hot as the rest of the cabin.
Commenting on the warnings, carwow’s consumer editor, Hugo Griffiths, says:
“Many drivers going to Glastonbury will be understandably excited for the festival and rush to leave their cars to set up their tents. But it’s easy enough to leave a pair of sunglasses on a dashboard top, or forget just how hot internal combustion engines get.
“Of course, they say it changes when the sun goes down(!) and it does – it’s really the intense heat and sun that can cause some serious damage to parked cars. So it’s worth deploying just a little extra conscientiousness, having a quick look around and underneath your car before heading off on your festival adventures.”