global warming

The Impact of Global Warming And Heat On Different Vehicle Types


Over recent years, the effects of global warming and increased temperatures around the world have become a ‘hot’ topic, impacting many and businesses and sectors, with a major one being the automotive industry.

For cars, light commercial vehicles (LCVs), heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), and electric vehicles (EVs), these climatic changes bring significant challenges, and understanding the impacts is crucial for everyone from fleet managers and repairers, through to individual car owners – in fact, pretty much the entire automotive industry.

But how exactly do rising temperatures impact different types of vehicles, and what measures can be taken to mitigate them?

Let’s take a look.

First of all, what is Global warming?

Global warming refers to the long-term rise in Earth’s average temperature, and it’s accelerated dramatically over the past 100 years due to increased fossil fuel consumption.

This increase is because, as the human population grows, so does the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas, leading to what’s known as the “greenhouse effect.” This effect happens when greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide trap heat in the atmosphere, preventing it from escaping back into space.

But this increase in global temperatures also drives climate change too, leading to changes in weather patterns, extreme weather events and significant heatwaves. 

The impact of increased temperature on cars

As global warming leads to higher ambient temperatures, passenger cars can be majorly impacted in a number of ways, such as:

  • Engines overheating: where higher temperatures can increase the likelihood of engines overheating. This can still happen despite the fact that modern engines are designed to operate within specific temperature ranges, as excessive heat can push these engines beyond their optimal operating conditions and lead to potential engine failures.
  • Tyre degradation: where heat accelerates the degradation of the tyre rubber, reducing their lifespan and increasing the risk of blowouts. What’s more, overinflated tyres due to high temperatures can also lead to accidents, meaning drivers must be ever more vigilant when inflating or checking their tyres before a journey in hot weather.
  • Worse battery performance: as traditional lead-acid car batteries can lose efficiency in extreme heat, global warming can result in shorter battery life and more frequent replacements.
  • And AC system strains: where the demand for air conditioning naturally rises with higher temperatures, but also puts additional strain on the car’s electrical systems and reduces its fuel efficiency as the engine work harder to power the AC.

The impact of increased temperature on LCVs

LCVs, such as delivery vans and small trucks, are critical to logistics and last-mile deliveries, but they can also face unique challenges due to increased heat. This can include:

  • Increased operational downtime: where higher temperatures can lead to more frequent breakdowns, causing operational delays and affecting delivery schedules.
  • Cargo damage: which is where heat-sensitive goods, such as perishable food items and pharmaceuticals, are at higher risk during transit, and therefore needs more sophisticated cooling solutions within the vehicles.
  • And additional component wear and tear: where components such as brakes and transmissions suffer accelerated wear in high heat, leading to higher maintenance costs and more frequent servicing needs.

The impact of increased temperature on HGVs

All across the world, HGVs are essential for transporting goods over long distances. For these vehicle types, impacts of global warming can result in:

  • Increased engine and tyre stress: whereby similar to passenger cars, HGV engines and tyres can be prone to overheating and faster degradation, which, given their size and weight, the consequences of tyre blowouts or engine failures are even more severe.
  • Lower fuel efficiency: where the higher temperatures can reduce overall efficiency of diesel engines, leading to increased fuel consumption and higher operational costs.
  • Impacted driver comfort and safety: which can particularly impact long-haul drivers due to higher cabin temperatures and insufficient cooling, as this can lead to quicker fatigue and reduced alertness, increasing the risk of accidents.

The impact of increased temperature on EVs

EVs are particularly sensitive to temperature variations, and global warming presents distinct challenges for them including:

  • Reduced battery performance and lifespan: where higher temperatures can significantly reduce the efficiency and lifespan of lithium-ion batteries used in EVs as any overheating can lead to thermal runaway – a dangerous condition where battery cells overheat uncontrollably.
  • Slower charging: whereby charging stations may be affected by extreme heat, leading to slower charging times or even station malfunctions.
  • Range reduction: as unfortunately, EVs do tend to have reduced range in hot conditions as the battery management systems work harder to keep the batteries cool, especially since they divert precious energy from propulsion into cooling systems.

But it’s not all doom and gloom

There are ways that drivers and vehicle operators can counter these challenges, particularly by taking a proactive approach to vehicle maintenance, integrating technology and improving driver awareness. For example:

  • Regular maintenance checks: which can help to prevent heat-related breakdowns, such as frequently checking fluid levels including engine oil and coolant, to ensure that they’re all topped up at optimal levels and in good condition to help engines cope with high temperatures.
  • More frequent tyre inspections: which is simply checking tyre pressure and condition much more often in order to prevent blowouts.
  • Being vigilant about battery care: which could mean replacing old batteries before they fail in the heat.
  • Leveraging telematics: as this technology can help monitor and manage vehicle health, as well as track vehicle performance and predict maintenance needs before they become critical issues.
  • Consider advanced cooling systems: which for engines and batteries, especially in EVs, can help to maintain optimal operating temperatures.
  • Educating drivers: particularly about the effects of heat on vehicles and how to handle them, as this can significantly reduce the risk of heat-related issues and ensure concerns are identified quickly.
  • Amending driving habits: such as encouraging drivers to avoid aggressive driving which can increase engine and brake temperatures.
  • Carrying out pre-trip inspections: which can identify potential issues before they lead to breakdowns.
  • Shading and sheltering vehicles: as providing shaded parking and loading areas from direct sun exposure can help keep them cool and prevent overheating.
  • And finally, investing in climate-controlled facilities: especially for cargo which is sensitive to heat, using climate-controlled storage and transport solutions can ensure that goods are kept safe and in good condition upon delivery.

Ultimately, Global warming and rising temperatures does bring with it a number of challenges to all types of vehicles. However, with proactive maintenance, the use of advanced technology, proper driver training, and infrastructure improvements, these challenges can be effectively managed.

What’s more, by taking these steps, drivers and operators can ensure that their vehicles remain operational, safe and efficient, even as global temperatures continue to rise.

However, whilst we do encourage as many proactive measures as possible, we also completely appreciate that heat-related vehicle accidents can still happen. But there’s one thing for certain that we can confidently say…

We’ll be in the hot seat right there with you

Egertons are one of the UK’s leading vehicle rescue and recovery operators, with services stretching from breakdown recovery to specialist assistance, available 24/7/365 service across the country.

But the main reason choose us? Because our fleet of incident response vehicles, range of equipment available on hand and the technology our fleet is equipped with, allows us to deploy the exact right vehicles, first time, helping to keep your vehicle downtime to an absolute minimum and ensure recovery takes place as safely and efficiently as possible.

What’s more, we also hold PAS 43, ISO 9001 and NNHS Sector 17 accreditations, helping to ensure that all our recoveries and repairs are completed to the very highest industry standards.

We’re the preferred vehicle rescue and recovery operator for UK fleets to rely on, no matter what.

In other words, when you need us, we’ll be right here.

Reach out today.