As the cold months of autumn and winter roll in, the changes to the weather can cause a change in driving conditions too. Heavy rain, icy surfaces, colder temperatures and leaves on the road can all provide hazards.
Whilst you may be starting to get your autumn wardrobe ready, have you considered getting your car ready too?
Check your lights
As the darker mornings and evenings draw in, we spend more time driving in the dark, so it’s important your lights are in full working order to improve your visibility on the road and to other road users.
You should be checking all bulbs are working, ensuring there’s no damage. Check your headlights, fog lights, side lights, tail lights, indicators and reverse lights too.
For the most accurate check, test your lights at night. You can also get someone to check for you as you sit in the car changing the lights.
Clean your windows
With the sun setting earlier, you may be driving home from work with a low sun impairing your vision. The combination of this and the damp autumn weather can lead to a dangerous combination, as they bring out the worst of a dirty windscreen.
Clean the inside of your window with window cleaner and a microfibre cloth to help prevent them from fogging up. You should also make sure the exterior of your windscreen is clean to prevent any larger patches of dirt or grime from obstructing your visibility.
Check your windscreen wipers too for any fraying or splitting, they shouldn’t smear your windscreen either when you turn them on.
Check your tyres
You should always be aware of your tyre pressure, but with the weather changing drastically, tyres will be more important than ever for keeping you safe whilst driving.
You should check your tyre tread depth. If they are below 3mm you should consider replacing them. Although the legal limit for tread is 1.6mm, your stopping distance will increase dramatically in wet conditions. The healthier your tyre, the better your stopping time.
Always keep your tyres inflated too by checking if the tyre pressure is correct.
Check your insurance
This is a given all year round, but with poor driving conditions in the autumn, there could be a higher risk of a road accident. You should be checking your vehicle’s insurance is in date, and that anyone who drives the car is insured.
Police can check the motor insurance database (MID) if they have suspicions about your vehicle. If you have been in a crash which requires police assistance, you will face bigger consequences than a damaged car if they find you are driving uninsured.
Top up on fluids
Again, this should be a given all year round. However, given the unpredictable nature of autumn weather, you will want to ensure everything is topped up just in case you need to stop somewhere for long periods of time.
You should check:
- Engine coolant
Make sure your engine is cool and the fluids are settled before carrying out the checks. You can refer to your car’s handbook if you’re unsure how much of each fluid to use.
Autumn weather can bring dirtier roads, which means more debris can cling to your paintwork. The more dirt that builds up, the more likely it is to cause damage or blemishes to your car’s paintwork.
Consider having your car cleaned and polished to protect it from the wet weather, or washing it as soon as you notice it’s looking a bit dirty.
Getting stranded on the side of the road at any time of the year isn’t fun, but as the weather turns colder you will especially need to be prepared for a roadside emergency.
You should consider stocking your boot with the following:
- Ice scraper
- A torch
- Jumper cables
Check your heating
Always check your heating is working properly as you won’t want to be without it when the cold weather hits. Make sure the defroster works as driving with a fogged-up windscreen is unsafe. Make sure to check your rear windscreen too, as this can be just as dangerous.
If you don’t think your heating is working as it should, take your car to a local repair shop for an expert’s opinion.
Check the brakes
It’s important you check your brakes before the autumn and winter seasons. Cold weather can heighten brake problems since the roads can be wet, icy or slippery from snow. You should listen for any unusual noises, as well as check any changes in the amount of pressure needed to stop your car.
Tidy the inside of your car
You could use the last of the summer sunshine and nice weather to give your car a deep clean. You may be surprised what’s in the boot or under the seats even after just a few journeys.
Having a messy car could be a potential distraction, which could cause an accident. Distractions in the car and hazardous road conditions are never a good combination.
No matter what kind of journeys you plan on taking in autumn, it’s always best to have your car prepared. If you are much of a prepper, it’s important you do still check the basics such as your insurance, tyres, brakes and lights.