Our guide to avoiding a breakdown this autumn

Our guide to avoiding a breakdown this autumn
Bonfires, cosy nights in, stunning scenery and the changing leaves… but autumn can also present plenty of challenges out on the roads.

Whether this is your first autumn behind the wheel, or you’re an old hand at negotiating seasonal change, these top tips will help ensure your autumnal driving goes without a hitch.

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Fill up on fluids

One of the most important things to remember during any car check this autumn is to make sure your fluids are topped up.

You don’t want to be caught out on a frosty morning, so make sure your antifreeze is topped up and if you don’t know which one is best for your vehicle, ask at a garage.

Keep an eye on your washer fluid levels too. Your car will contend with a lot of rain and falling leaves in autumn that will leave streaks all over your windscreen, so it’s important you have the means to keep it clear.

Check your battery

Car batteries last an average of four years, so if you think you’re in line for a new one be sure to change it before the worst of the weather hits. No-one wants to be stuck in the freezing cold with a flat car battery.

Even if you don’t think you’re ready for a new one, it’s still a good idea to give yours the once-over to be on the safe side. Check the RAC shop for a great deal on a new battery with same-day fitting.

READ MORE: Top car breakdown faults in autumn — and how to avoid them

Prepare for night-time driving

Those long summer evenings are long gone and as the days get shorter you’ll be doing a lot more driving in the dark.

If this is your first autumn driving, or even if you just lack confidence on the roads after dark, why not try and build up some practice?

Driving in the dark can be a completely different experience to what you’re used to, especially in rural areas with limited streetlights, so it’s always a good idea to get some hours under your belt before undertaking any longer journeys.

Check out our dedicated guide for more driving at night tips.

Keep the lights on

Ideally you should be checking your lights every few weeks or so throughout the year, but with the nights drawing in it’s more important than ever to give them a quick look-over.

Don’t just check your headlights and brake lights. They all need to be working to keep you safe, and that includes fog lights, hazards, even your number plate lights.

Check out the RAC shop to find the right light bulbs for your car.

READ MORE: Regular car checks to help prevent a breakdown and keep you safe

Get breakdown cover

Autumn means shorter days, colder weather and a lot more wind and rain, so the last thing you want is to be dealing with a breakdown.

To make sure your plans aren’t derailed, be sure to arrange the right protection for you. RAC breakdown cover comes with our 120 years of experience as standard and is available from just £4.50 a month.

Look out for children

The kids are back at school and that means that there’ll be a lot more of them out and about on the roads.

It’s important to be extra vigilant when driving around schools, particularly at the beginning and end of the school day and be sure to adhere to any special speed limits in place to keep traffic slow.

You should also be careful of schoolchildren riding bikes and scooters who might rush out into the road, particularly when it starts getting dark earlier, as they might not be wearing reflective clothing.

READ MORE: The school run — your ultimate guide

Be ready whatever the weather

Autumn brings a drop in temperature and a whole host of variable weather conditions that can affect driving such as rain, fog, wind, maybe even snow and ice.

Both rain and ice make roads and other surfaces slippery, so consider your steering and braking distances. Fog can seriously impair your visibility so ensure your fog lights are working and drive with extreme caution.

It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before setting off so you have an idea of what to expect and keep some warm and wet-weather clothing in your car just in case it changes.

For more information, check out the RAC guides to driving in heavy rain and driving in windy weather.

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Look out for leaves

They might look great when they’re turning golden brown but autumn leaves can be extremely dangerous on the roads, so take extra care if you’re travelling along rural routes and tree-lined streets in towns and cities.

The Highway Code says you should leave two seconds between you and the car in front, but if the road is slippery with leaves – particularly if it’s been raining – leave a bigger gap to prepare for longer stopping distances.

Leaves can cover up other surprises, like potholes and dips, so make sure you’re travelling carefully enough to deal with anything unexpected.

Prepare to be dazzled

Autumn means the sun is a lot lower in sky, and for drivers this increased glare can be dangerous, especially when it’s flickering through leafless trees.

To stay prepared for the dazzle, keep a good pair of sunglasses in the car and make full use of the sun visor. It’s also sensible to keep your windscreen clean and clear at all times, as any streaks will further impair your vision in the sunlight.

READ MORE: How to deal with damaged windscreens

Watch out for wildlife

Deer, foxes, badgers, rabbits, even the occasional wildcat – the UK has some great wildlife, but when it comes to driving these creatures present a genuine danger.

Thousands of deer are killed on the UK’s roads every year, so be vigilant particularly when driving in heavily-wooded areas and rural lanes – especially if you see any road signs warning you that there are deer in the area.

Don’t get distracted

One of the best things about autumn is the great holidays. Halloween and Bonfire Night are fun for people of all ages, but they can be quite distracting for motorists.

Watch out for kids trick-or-treating on Halloween and be prepared for exploding fireworks and large crowds around local displays when Guy Fawkes comes around.

Did you know, you can get fined for moving out of the way of an ambulance?

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