As autumn swings around, the fresh air, rainy days, and beds of leaves make less than ideal conditions for your car. Just like putting on your wellies before a walk in the mushy grass, you will need to protect your car from the challenges of autumnal roads.
Here’s how to stay safe on the road in the coming months…
Road hazards will grow in abundance in the coming months, and it’s important to drive with even more vigilance than you usually would. Wet, fallen leaves are extremely slippery and can conceal road markings or other hazards, so take extra care when driving along unfamiliar routes.
Clear away leaves
Remove any fallen leaves from your vehicle, especially around the scuttle panel directly under the windscreen, as these can block drainage holes and get caught under your windscreen wiper blades.
Prepare for fog
Fog is one of the most dangerous weather conditions to drive in, as an accident involving one car can quickly escalate into involving others if they are driving too close. Therefore, it is important to leave a distance of at least 3 seconds between you and the car in front.
Use your headlights and fog lights to increase your visibility to others, and wind your window down at junctions to listen for traffic.
Don’t forget about the sun
Keep a pair of sunglasses in the car so that you are always prepared for the low sun.
Make sure your seat is situated correctly for your height so that your sun visor provides optimum shade and is easy to lower in an instant, especially in the early hours of the morning or evening. Keep the inside of your windscreen as clean as possible and make good use of your windscreen washers and wipers, to reduce the effect of glare and the possibility of creating condensation.
It’s also important to note that you might be invisible to other road users if you’re driving out of the sun, so don’t be afraid to turn on your headlights.
Make sure your anti-freeze isn’t running out
As overnight temperatures begin to drop, it’s important to make sure that the fluid levels in your car are topped up and contain the correct dilution of antifreeze.
You should check the tread on your tyres regularly, and especially in cold, rainy months.
The legal minimum is 1.6mm (or the depth of the edge of a 20 pence) but you can change them before that if you feel it is necessary. Consider fitting cold weather tyres, which dramatically improve grip and stability, when ambient temperatures are less than seven degrees celsius.
Look after your car battery
A failing car battery won’t survive too many crisp autumnal mornings, so it’s a good idea to make sure yours is in working condition.
The average car battery has a useful lifespan of three to five years, and you can get your battery checked for free by popping into your local Halfords or Kwik-Fit.
If your battery is new, make sure the battery terminal clamps are tight, and smear a thin film of petroleum jelly on them to pre-empt any issues.
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