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Don’t suffer behind the wheel: How to hay fever proof your car this summer

After a long, dark winter, summer is finally on its way. Although most of us are looking forward to longer days, sunnier skies, and warmer weather, those who suffer from hay fever can dread summer and all it brings. And it can often feel like there’s no escape from the symptoms.

You may not be first in line to run through a green field, but there’s no reason you should suffer hay fever symptoms when you’re in your car. There are several ways you can reduce hay fever symptoms when behind the wheel this summer. Our car insurance expert, Joel Kempson, runs through the top tips:

Check your pollen filters

Not all cars come fitted with pollen filters, but you should be able to find out if yours has one by checking your manual or contacting the car manufacturer. Pollen filters work just like any other filter, essentially catching pollen and debris which may otherwise have blown into your car.

Over time they collect a lot of particles, dust and pollutants. This can then cause them to become blocked, allowing little or no air through the vents. This can also, in some instances, leave a bad smell in your car.

So keep in mind that pollen filters do need changing. There’s no hard and fast rule on how frequently as it can vary, depending on your type of car, how often and how far you drive, and of course the external environmental factors (i.e. whether you drive in urban or rural areas most frequently). 

Keep windows up

There’s no way to make your car a total pollen-free zone, but there is one simple thing you can do to block a large portion of pollen. It may sound simple but keeping your windows up completely and relying on your air con can help reduce your symptoms (providing you have a pollen filter) as they block out external pollutants – including pollen. Even just the smallest opening in your window can allow pollen to creep through and cause havoc with your sinuses. 

Keep your car clean inside and out

Cleaning your car is one of those jobs many of us put to the bottom of our list. However, if you suffer from hay fever, not cleaning your car regularly can make your symptoms a lot worse. Over time, a lot of dirt and allergens make their way into your car from your clothes and shoes. And the only way to get rid of it is to thoroughly hoover your carpets and seats. It’s also worth giving your dashboard, steering wheel, gear stick and door handles a wipe every week to keep dust at bay.

The same applies to the outside of your car. Regularly clean and rinse off dust and dirt from your paintwork – particularly if you’ve been driving on rural roads or in cities – as anything on the exterior of your car can easily make its way inside.

Invest in rubber mats

We already know that carpets harbour a lot of dust and particles, and although you can’t remove carpet from your car completely, you can reduce it. One of the easiest ways is to swap out your carpet mats for rubber ones, not only are they much easier to clean – just give them a rinse with the hosepipe, wait for them to dry and pop them back in – but even better, they tend to more durable. Ideal if you cover a lot of miles or drive in heels.

Minimise air fresheners

Although they don’t contain pollen, much like air fresheners in the home, car air fresheners can cause irritation, often mimicking the effects of hay fever and exacerbating existing symptoms. If your car is starting to smell musty due to a lack of air, your best bet is to clean it either yourself, making sure to clean under seats and in door wells using antibacterial cleaner, or get it cleaned by a professional.

Take non-drowsy medication when driving 

The Road Traffic Act does not differentiate between illegal drugs, prescription drugs or over the counter medication. Meaning, you could face a drug-driving conviction for driving after taking certain hay fever tablets.

A drug-driving conviction could cost up to £5000 and could see points added to your licence. Any conviction will normally increase your car insurance premiums too.

Some allergy medications can cause side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion. If you’re planning a trip, ensure to check any warnings and advice on the medication.