The seasons are changing, and as Autumn comes in, drivers need to be prepared for what the British weather can bring in terms of hazards. Use this handy checklist to make sure you are fully prepared.
Many local garages and mechanics offer Winter Safety Checks as the seasons change, and it is worth contacting your usual service provider to see if they do something similar. If not, it is a good idea to arrange the following checks of your vehicle as the cold, wet weather sets in.
Batteries usually last between 3-5 years, so it is worth getting your battery checked before the weather gets too cold – a battery towards the end of its useful life is more likely to fail in the colder weather, so look to replace it if necessary.
It is important to make sure that all your fluids are regularly topped up, and antifreeze is something that is particularly important in the winter to protect your engine. However, not all antifreeze is created equal, so speak to your mechanic to find out which is most appropriate for use in your vehicle.
The legal minimum tread depth for tyres is 1.6mm, but it is recommended that you replace your tyres before they get below 3mm, for optimal grip and safety. Do make sure that you keep your tyres pumped up to the correct pressure for better fuel consumption, too.
The nights are drawing in, so it is very important that you check all the lights on your vehicle, from headlights to brake lights. Don’t forget to check fog lights and your number plate lights. Bulbs are usually easy to fit, but many garages can do this for you at a nominal cost.
Make sure that you have enough fuel for your journey, and your oil is topped up. You will most likely be using your windscreen washer fluid more than usual too, so keep checking and refilling as often as needed. Wiper blades need to be checked too – if they are squeaking, it is time for new ones!
Driving in heavy rain needs careful monitoring of speed, longer stopping distances and use of headlights. Standing water should be avoided; if you must drive through it be sure to test your brakes gently afterwards, and if you aquaplane allow the vehicle to come to a stop.
Wet leaves on the road can be as slippery as black ice, so try and avoid driving through them. As with other driving hazards, low speed and a larger gap between you and the car in front will make it safer.
All wild animals react unpredictably when a car approaches, deer are most likely to be hit in the Autumn as they tend to freeze and run in random directions. Keep an eye out for reflective eyes in the undergrowth at the side of roads, and keep your speed low.
Fog is very dangerous for drivers although it doesn’t affect the mechanics of the vehicle. Remember your speed needs to be low, and you need to increase your stopping distance by at least 10x. Lights should be used whenever it is foggy, avoid full beams to reduce the ‘white wall’ effect – use your dipped headlights in conjunction with your fog lights for maximum visibility.
Low sun and glare from wet roads can be a real hazard for drivers, so do remember to keep some sunglasses in your car and be aware that you might need to use your sun visor. Keeping your windscreen spotless will help to improve your visibility – don’t forget to clean the inside too! If the low Autumn sun is behind you, you may not be visible to other road users, so don’t be afraid to use your headlights to make sure you can be seen.
Preparation is key to driving safely when the weather is changing, and although some checks can be done at home it is important that you make sure your car is mechanically sound – cold starts, heater use and inclement weather can be hard on various parts of your car, such as the battery.
Be sure to check your vehicle regularly and drive carefully when the weather (or the wildlife) is causing a problem.
* All vehicle images and car descriptions on this site are for illustration and reference purposes only and are not necessarily an accurate representation of the vehicle on offer.
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