How to prepare your car for the changing road conditions this autumn

We held onto the summer sun for as long as we could, but now it’s time to embrace the autumn months.

As the nights draw in that little bit quicker and the temperatures drop that little bit lower, there are some important changes we need to make to our driving habits.

Every season brings its challenges and autumn is no different. It’s not just the colder temperatures that we have to adjust to, but also the ever-changing and somewhat unpredictable road conditions.

Vauxhall Corsa parked on leaves

Prepare for the fog

One of the biggest challenges of the autumn weather is the hazy low-standing fog that can build up before your early morning commutes.

Not only does the fog hamper your visibility, but it can also lead to roads becoming wet and slippery.

Well ahead of your next journey, check the condition of all your vehicle’s bulbs. Some drivers may have gone weeks or months without regularly using their headlights on the road, so be sure to check they’re all still in working condition.  

Keep your windscreen clean – inside and out

Throughout the summer months, your vehicle may not look that dirty. However, there will be an underlying build up of dirt and grit that occurs over time, both inside and out.

It’s just as important to clean the inside of your windscreen to ensure you have the best visibility on the road. Condensation on the inside of your windscreen – which can be enhanced as a knock-on effect of dirt - can be a common issue for drivers at this time of year. For the best results, use a specific car window cleaner.

Skoda Octavia driving through trees

Keep a pair of sunglasses close

The key to success in the autumn is all about being versatile and ready to adapt to the ever-changing weather conditions.

One minute you’re battling the fog, but the next you could have to contend with a beaming ray of sunshine directly in your eye line.

Keeping a pair of sunglasses in your car is a smart idea or be ready to use your sun visors. Take the time to consider the right pair of sunglasses for driving - not all sunglasses are suitable. They need to be effective at deflecting glare, have suitable coloured lenses and most importantly, be comfortable for you whilst driving.

Check your wipers

A British summer doesn’t typically stay dry for long, but there’s a good chance you’re coming off the back of a sustained period where your windscreen wipers have enjoyed a bit of a break. We’re now approaching a time where you’re faced with the possibility of using them much more frequently.

A pair of fully functional windscreen wipers can be something we take for granted. But if you find yourself without them in treacherous conditions then it can turn your journey into a nightmare.

After a period of minimal use, take the time to check they’re still in suitable working condition before you set off.

Vauxhall Corsa parked in autumnal setting

Check your tyres

It is important to check the condition of your tyres as we approach these wetter months. The legal minimum requirement is to have a tread depth of 1.6mm, but it is recommended that you consider a tread depth of 3mm in winter/wetter driving conditions. This will provide you with more grip and safer braking distances.

Drive at an appropriate speed

This is a given during any season of the year. However, it is crucial that you remain at an appropriate speed as we hit autumn.

Throughout these months, you have to contend with ever-changing road conditions and face the risk of reduced visibility through fog or brighter sunlight.

Maintaining an appropriate speed and distance between yourself and the car in front will ensure you have enough time and space to react, should you need to.

A pile of wet leaves on the road may look quintessentially autumnal, but over time they can cause havoc on the road – creating damp and slippery conditions.  

A wet road surface increases the risk of skidding. If your car does start to skid, avoid braking. Although this may feel unnatural, easing off the power and steering towards the direction of the skid will give you a greater chance of regaining control of the vehicle.

Check your fluids

As the temperatures change, it’s important to make sure you check your fluid levels. From your engine coolant to your washer fluid, take the time to check your levels and fill up where necessary.

Your engine coolant helps control the temperatures of your engine in all conditions, meaning it will play a crucial role over the coming months. The last thing you need when driving in unpredictable conditions is to be caught out with a low supply of some of your vital fluids.

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Ryan Darby

Ryan Darby

Ryan takes the lead on all things 'wordy'. With a sports media background, a true passion for cars, and a LOT of driving experience under his belt, he'll make sure you have all the information you need, when you need it.