Autumn Driving Tips

With autumn upon us and the nights and temperatures drawing in, it’s time to take stock and consider how best to keep ourselves safe on the roads. Changing seasons bring very different road conditions: not to mention the need to winter-proof our vehicles and perhaps our driving styles. Here are our top tips for safe autumn driving.




Slow down

Leaves, ice and standing water on the road, can all cause real problems. By slowing down, even just a little, you increase your chances of being able to dodge potential hazards. With the darker nights comes a higher risk of animals/wildlife lurking in the road. Not only would you have the death, or serious injury, of an animal on your conscience, but you’d also have a hefty repair bill too. Slow down, it’s not the long clear days of summer anymore.




Prevention is always better than cure

Here in the UK, autumn and winter days are short. Chances are that you set off to work, and return home, in the dark. Obviously, there is never a good time to discover a fault with your vehicle, but there are better times than 7:30am on dark, frosty morning, to find that your trusty steed won’t start. Our advice is to take the opportunity to pre-empt winter driving problems now, before the bad weather and the dark mornings, really take hold.

Make an effort to check the battery, especially if it’s over three years old. You are looking for signs of corrosion on the terminals and also be aware of how well your car starts up on cold mornings: there will usually, but not always, be a couple of spluttery days before your battery gives up the ghost. Take this chance to replace your battery before it fails to start your car.

Are your windscreen wipers squeaking? This probably means that they need replacing. The rubber on windscreen wipers usually lasts about two years: after this it starts to fail causing telltale squeaking and smearing. This is particularly dangerous in autumn when the sun is often bright, but low in the sky, causing drivers to become easily dazzled. Add in the layer of grit salt residue that is so common at this time of year and the combination is one of the chief causes of accidents. Oh, and whilst you are checking your windscreen wipers, be sure to replenish your windscreen washer fluid and use a proper fluid with antifreeze. In the summer months you may have got away with using just plain water, but this will simply freeze solid and be totally useless in the winter.

Have you checked your tyre tread recently? If you haven’t, now is the time. There should be an absolute minimum of 3mm of tread, however this is just to comply with the law. The more tread you have, the quicker your car will stop when you brake. With autumn driving conditions being far from ideal, give yourself a head start.

What else should you check?

The start of autumn is a great time to have your car serviced, making sure you and your car are winter ready.

  • antifreeze level

  • that lights and bulbs are functional

  • oil level


Plan for frozen windscreens

How do you plan on de-icing your car? It pays to have a preferred method and to get the tools you require before you wake up one morning, are running slightly late for work and your windscreen is frozen solid!


There are a variety of different techniques you can use, with the ice scraper being the most favoured method, used by 66% of the UK. A further 45% use a combination of de-icing and scraping. Worryingly, 13% still pour hot water on their windscreen. This is not only harmful to the windscreen and can cause it to crack, but it can also freeze as sheet ice as soon as you start to move the car.

In a recent study, conducted by the AA, 12% of people admitted they don’t clear the whole windscreen before heading out on a journey. 20% of these people said that often the screen was nearly all opaque with frost. If you can’t see, you aren’t safe: always clear your windscreen before you set off.