The clocks go back soon and traffic becomes that bit more miserable. The weather is going to get colder and snow won’t be too far off. Life behind the wheel doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom as we enter the darker months of the year though. To help prevent making a bad situation worse, we’ve compiled a handful of quick tips to stay safe and legal on the roads this Autumn.
Wet Leaves & Slippery wet roads
Makes for a pretty picture, all the golden leaves that fall over the Autumn months. Careful though, wet leaves pose a serious threat on back roads when they aren’t swept to the roadside. A fallen leaf will stay moist a lot longer than the road surface, which creates inconsistencies when it comes to traction. Always exercise caution when driving over wet leaves to avoid skidding out.
Have you ever noticed that the road feels particularly slippery when it has just started raining, opposed to if it had been raining for hours (or days) on end? That’s because when it has only just started raining all the dirt, grit and tree-sap that layers the tarmac is loosened. After a while, this invisible layer of debris is washed to the roadside, but be extra cautious in wet conditions, particularly if the rain has only just started.
As the clocks go back the chances of spending most of your time behind the wheel in pitch-black increase significantly. Accordingly, it’s wise to make sure your headlights are working effectively. Don’t rely on dashboard warning sensors, turn the ignition and lights on and have a walk around your car to make sure everything is in order.
Tread Depth & Tyre Pressure
As the colder months close in, now would be a good time to make sure you’ve checked your rubbers. Tread depth must be above the legal minimum requirement of 1.6mm across the centre 3 quarters of the tyre, but we’d recommend changing your tyres well before this point. The more depth in your tyres, the less interference in the contact between the road and tyres.
Daytime Running Lights
If your car is new to you, make sure you know the difference between your dipped beams, sidelights and daytime running lights. It has become increasingly common to see cars driving around at night time with just ‘DTRLs’. Not only are these inefficient at lighting up the road ahead of you, but it also means you’ve got no lights on at the back of your car - which is a serious hazard in tricky conditions.
Has your car been turning-over first time every time with a convincing mechanical sound? If so, good, you should be fine. If not, it might be worth doing some preventative maintenance. Cold-starts over the winter months can become strenuous for the starter motor. It’s best to get it swapped over sooner rather than later to save your car from getting stuck on your driveway.
I know, it’s basic vehicle maintenance to keep your washer fluid topped up, but it is particularly important as Autumn closes in. Falling leaves which rest upon parked cars will smear tree sap over your paintwork, which is annoying enough, but what’s more annoying is when they make themselves at home on your windscreen. This isn’t noticeable until a low setting sun glares across your screen, seriously impairing your vision. This is when it is of utmost importance to make sure you have plenty of washer fluid to allow you to carry on with your journey.
And lastly, this one shouldn’t be hard to diagnose, make sure there are no unwanted warning lights illuminating the dashboard. These are there to help you at the very least and don’t fear that the work will be expensive, sometimes it can just come down to a faulty sensor. Read what to look out for here.