How you can avoid autumn motoring risks

Autumn in the UK means less daylight, colder temperatures, rain and fallen leaves – all of which can present challenges for car drivers.

Here are some of the issues which autumn can bring and what motorists can do to avoid being caught out.

Overloaded batteries

Car batteries are tested when autumn arrives thanks to the extra demands made on the electrical system, from heating the car to additional use of lights and windscreen wipers, the added pressure on an already weak battery could be enough to cause it to fail.

The RAC warns that if your car’s motor whirrs lethargically or if the lights appear dim, then that could be a sign your battery needs replacing. The breakdown service suggests that batteries which are over five years old should probably be replaced before they can cause problems.

Engine fluids

Cars rely on various fluids, and while many motorists will understand that checking the oil level is important, it is also key to check your coolant level. Refer to your car owner's manual for guidance.

Before the temperature dips too far it is important to test how much anti-freeze you have. Topping up the water level with anti-freeze, or using a tester kit to assess how much you need is a simple thing to do. These checks will help avoid a situation such as an engine block cracking when the frost arrives.

And make sure your windscreen washers are regularly topped up with a winter-strength washer fluid added to help clear the dirt which autumn roads can throw up.

Fallen leaves

The changing colours of leaves in autumn are a sight to behold but as beautiful as they are they can also be a menace for motorists. Leaves will often fall onto cars and find their way into air inlets, potentially causing engines to overheat.

If your windscreen keeps steaming up, take a look at the inlets below the windscreen wipers and under the bonnet. Remove any leaves which are caught in there and this will help with air flow and prevent water accumulating and flooding the engine bay.

Electrical issues

Autumn inevitably means wetter weather and for a car’s electrical system this is a potential threat. After a cold morning, rising temperatures can bring with it condensation which can cause problems for batteries, spark plugs and leads. Dealers or garages can identify any underlying problems with electrical systems by plugging in a diagnostic computer so an autumn service could help identify issues before they become a problem.

And finally

Don’t forget to check your lights and windscreen wipers. After being rarely used during the summer, worn wipers can result in poor visibility and the police are likely to pull you over if they see a bulb which is out.

Tyres which are worn won’t be able to cope with slippery roads so make sure you have adequate tread to cope with the changing conditions.

Did you know?

Car owners who take out NFU Mutual’s motor insurance policy will also receive roadside assistance from the RAC should they breakdown more than a quarter of a mile from their home.

Find out more about our motor insurance.