Many people think that winter is the most dangerous season for driving, but as leaves start to fall and the nights get darker, autumn brings many of its own hazards.
To give you a helping hand in being autumn auto-ready, we’ve pulled together some handy hints and tips.
Don’t get dazzled
The glare from an autumn sun low in the sky can cause poor visibility this time of year, so it’s important to ensure that your windscreen is kept as clean and clear as possible to help minimise the effects. Make sure that your windscreen fluid is kept topped up to prevent any smearing and consider having any chips and scratches fixed if they are in your eyeline.
It is also very important to check that your windscreen wiper blades are not worn, broken or ripped. There is more likely to be heavy rain this time of year, so it is essential that they are working effectively.
Feeling ‘tyred’ out?
During the autumn, reduced visibility can make sudden braking more likely therefore it is important to check the tyre treads and pressures regularly to make sure they are safe.
Wet leaves on the roads can make slippery driving conditions so tyres that grip effectively are a must. The law states that the minimum legal tyre tread depth for cars in the UK is 1.6mm. When driving, keep a safe distance behind the car in front to allow for sudden braking.
See and be seen
Driving in dark, wet and foggy conditions means you must be able to see and be seen by others.
It’s a good idea to perform regular checks to make sure all lights on your car are working. You may need to enlist a family member or friend to help you check your brake lights! If any bulbs need changing, you should find instructions on how to do this in your vehicle handbook. Bulbs can sometimes be quite difficult so you may need a garage to assist you.
Also make sure all lights are kept clean and are free from debris and leaves.
Be aware of an increase of wildlife hazards this time of year too, particularly in rural areas, so drive generally with more caution and look out for animals at the roadside.
Stay in charge
Autumn weather can affect car batteries, so pop the bonnet every now and then to make sure it is clean, dry and free from corrosion. Car batteries typically last around 3-5 years, so if yours falls within this age bracket it might be a good idea to get it tested to make sure it is holding its charge, and keep a set of jump-leads in the boot.
Make sure you have your breakdown cover details easily to hand, either printed off and kept in your glovebox or stored within your mobile phone. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your mobile phone is fully charged before heading off on a journey, so that you can easily call for assistance if your car breaks down.
Fight the Freeze
Antifreeze should be kept topped up all year round, but is especially important during the autumn season as the first frosts begin to appear.
Antifreeze helps to prevent corrosion and the engine seizing up during colder weather, and can be purchased from most petrol stations and car accessory retailers.
And ‘leaf’ nothing to chance!
Having considered all the points above, it would be a good idea to keep the following items in your car:
- A coat –to keep warm while waiting for assistance if you break down in cold weather
- A torch – it’s a good idea to have one of these in your car all year round, but especially in the autumn when the weather becomes darker
- De-icer and scraper – to enable you to clear your windows before setting off on your journey
- Sunglasses – keep a pair in your glove box if you’re affected by the glare of low sunshine
- Jump-leads – to help you get a jump-start if your battery charge fails
And finally, take a couple of minutes to make a quick inspection of your car before leaving home:
- Is the windscreen clear and de-iced?
- Give a squirt of windscreen fluid – is it topped up and working?
- Have a walk round the car – do the tyres look OK and are all lights free from debris and leaves?
By following this guidance, you’ll help to keep yourself and others safe on the roads this season and can feel confident that you are autumn auto-ready!
Sourced from www.theaa.com. (2017). Low sun, and the return of icy windscreens. Available: https://www.theaa.com/driving-advice/seasonal/autumn. Last accessed 23/10/2017.
Sourced from www.quotelinedirect.co.uk. (2017). Getting your car ready for Autumn. Available: http://www.quotelinedirectblog.co.uk/autumn-driving-tips/. Last accessed 23/10/2017.
Kristian Dando. (2012). Top Tips for Safe Autumn Driving. Available: http://www.gocompare.com/covered/2011/09/top-tips-for-safe-autumn-driving/. Last accessed 23/10/2017.
Ruaraidh Rafferty. (2015). Autumn driving tips. Available: https://www.arnoldclark.com/newsroom/882-autumn-driving-tips. Last accessed 23/10/2017.