Motoring expert shares autumn car checks to make now to avoid £2.5k fines

With autumn now here, motoring experts are urging vehicle owners to start preparing their car for the colder and wetter months ahead.

Those conditions will have an impact on your driving experience, particularly as wet roads and autumn leaves pose an increased skid risk on roads.

With this in mind, Graham Conway, Managing Director at Select Car Leasing, shared five essential steps all drivers should be taking now, so they’re not caught out in the weeks and months ahead.

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Make sure you check these out below to make sure you're not at risk of expensive fines.

1. Check your tyres

Most drivers realise that wet roads pose a skid risk. But what they might not grasp is wet roads immediately after a prolonged dry period can be even more problematic. That’s because really hot weather – like what we’ve been experiencing recently – can cause the bitumen in roads to bubble to the surface. And when it then rains, the bitumen mixes with rubber, oil and other road dirt to form a slippery surface layer.

That skid risk decreases when further rain washes the slippery layer away, but on the first day of rain after a heatwave, the roads can be treacherous. With that in mind – and with autumn leaves likely falling on roads soon – it’s crucial to check the condition of your tyres.

Graham recommends inspecting tread depth, inflation levels, and the overall state of your tyres – such as checking for any cracks in the rubber that might be forming.

He said: "Tyre tread depth has to be above 1.6mm to be legal in the UK. And if you flout the rules, you face a £2,500 fine and three penalty points per worn tyre, which can amount to a hefty bill indeed.

"Colder weather can also cause tyres to suffer a loss in pressure, so make sure they’re set at the correct PSI (pounds per square inch) according to the manufacturer’s handbook."

2. Check your lights

As the days become shorter, motorists will rely on their car's lights more and more, particularly if they’re commuting or travelling later into the evening.

During the summer months, it might not be immediately obvious that your headlights, or tail lights, aren’t illuminating properly. So now is the time to check for blown bulbs, and to also make sure your headlights are aligned in a way that they’re not dazzling other road users.

Graham said: "Check indicators, side lights, headlights, brake lights, and reversing lights. And you should also check that your fog lights are functioning as they should – as it’s better to know now, before poor weather arrives, than being caught short when you need them most. If your headlights are found to pose a dazzle risk, you can face a £100 fine and three penalty points on your licence.

"With that in mind, the Met Office is forecasting potentially foggy and misty conditions for some parts of the UK in the days ahead."

3. Check your windows and wipers

The combination of damp autumn weather and a low sun can be a hazardous combination if you also have a dirty or heavily-smudged windscreen. To avoid any reduced visibility issues while driving, clean the interior of your window using a window cleaner and a microfibre cloth to prevent fogging issues.

However, it's not just the interior of your windows that require attention. Examine your windscreen for any noticeable chips, and promptly arrange for a repair to prevent them from developing into larger cracks that could prove financially costly if ignored.

Graham also recommends taking a look at your windscreen wipers to ensure that the rubber components in contact with your windscreen are in good condition, and free from any signs of fraying or splits. If they fail to meet these criteria, it's advisable to replace them promptly.

He added: "Some TikTok users have also pointed out that you should clean your windscreen wipers regularly. While you might assume they clean themselves whenever you activate the screen wash, they can accumulate a build-up of grime that’s then transferred to your window every time you use them, impairing visibility."

4. Check fluid levels

"When it comes to preparing your vehicle for autumn, do not underestimate the importance of maintaining the fluid levels in your car," said Graham.

He added: "Check coolant levels, oil levels, windshield washer fluids, brake fluids, and power steering fluids. All of these components are vital for ensuring your car runs smoothly during the autumn and winter months.

"And checking them regularly – particularly now before the weather turns cold – could save you from having to be rescued from the side of the road in the event of a breakdown."

5. Inspect your car’s paintwork

The rainy weather that accompanies colder months will undoubtedly lead to muddier conditions on UK roads, resulting in an increased level of debris attaching itself to your vehicle’s exterior.

The longer this dirt remains on your car’s surface, the higher the risk of potential blemishes or damage to the paintwork, including rust, according to Graham.

He commented: "To protect your paint from whatever the weather may bring, consider performing a comprehensive cleaning, waxing, and polishing routine before the wet weather commences.

"If you want to give your car a thorough deep clean, check out advice from dedicated car detailers, which can ensure your vehicle is spotless while also protecting it from damage further down the line."

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