Autumn is a beautiful time to be driving in Britain. The red and gold foliage carpeting the landscape creates some dazzling scenes. But the low autumn sun can also dazzle, making driving at this time of year especially hazardous. And with autumn comes the first instances of icy windscreens and road surfaces.
But with a little preparation and thought, these and other autumnal driving challenges can be dealt with.
Prevent sunset dazzle
The low sun this time of year can make it hard to see the road ahead.
Tips for reducing the risk of being dazzled:
- Ensure your windscreen is clean both inside and out
- Replace wiper blades if necessary
- Use headlights to make yourself as visible as possible
- Use sunglasses and the visor when necessary
- If you're dazzled, reduce speed immediately
- Be aware that when the sun is behind you it may be dazzling approaching drivers
- Remember that if you’re being dazzled, the sun may well be dazzling drivers behind you.
Replace windscreen wipers
If your wipers are more than two years old, they probably need replacing in order to clean your windscreen effectively. Early autumn is a good time to replace them – ready to deal with the worst of autumn and winter.
Top up windscreen washer fluid
Buy a high quality fluid with an anti-freeze additive. Do not use regular engine antifreeze; use a fluid made especially for windscreens. Make sure you fill the correct reservoir by referring to your handbook.
Consider replacing your battery
Battery failures are one of the main causes of breakdowns year-round – but due to heavier loads in colder months, autumn and winter see battery failures increase further. If your battery is finding it hard to cope now, the chances are that winter temperatures will be too much for it. If your battery is more than five years old, the risk of an unplanned failure is already high.
Check your bulbs
With darker evenings (and days), your lights are even more important. Check all your lights on a weekly basis and change any bulbs promptly. While your handbook will show you how to replace most bulbs, a garage visit may be needed for new headlamps.
Check tyres for 3mm of tread
Carefully check your tyres for wear and tear, pressure and tread depth. 3mm of tread depth is the recommended minimum. If your tyres need replacing, it is better to do it now rather than in mid-winter.
Top up your antifreeze
Top up your antifreeze with the correct fluid type. It's important to keep antifreeze topped-up throughout the year because it also helps to prevent corrosion in general and helps the engine stay cooler in warmer months.
The cost associated with fixing a frozen engine can be very high indeed, so it is important to ensure the correct concentration of antifreeze is present. Refer to your handbook for information on how to top up and which fluid type to use. Be aware that mixing antifreeze types may damage your engine.
Free winter checks
Many garages offer free winter checks to make sure your car is ready for the coming colder temperatures ahead.