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Autumn driving tips

Carlton Boyce / 16 September 2015 ( 20 September 2019 )

I’ve a soft spot for autumn: the colours, the first crisp frost of the season, the chance to get a bonfire going to burn the leaves that litter the lawn...

Driving on a country road in the autumn
Hitting a patch of wet leaves on the road can be almost as bad as hitting black ice, so take care on country lanes

However, there’s no doubt that autumn presents its own challenges, not least on the road. 

Here’s our guide to keeping safe on the roads in the coming months. 

Look after your car battery

Crisp autumnal mornings might look glorious but they’ll be the death of a failing car battery. 

As the average car battery has a useful life of just three to five years, it’s worth popping into your local Halfords or Kwik-Fit and asking them for a free battery check. 

If your battery is newer than that, it’s worth making sure the battery terminal clamps are tight before smearing a thin film of petroleum jelly on them to help forestall any problems.

Check tyres

Now is a good time to check the tread on your tyres. 

The legal minimum is 1.6mm (or the depth of the edge of a 20 pence) but I’d change them before that; the extra cost is minimal and the grip they give drops off rapidly with a tread depth of less than 3mm.

What you need to know about winter tyres

Don't run out of antifreeze

Now is also the time to check that your antifreeze is up to scratch. Your local garage should be able to do it for a nominal fee.

Here comes the sun

Be aware of the low sun and keep a pair of sunglasses in the car. 

Be prepared to lower your sun visor in an instant, especially in the early hours of the morning or evening. Keeping the inside of your windscreen spotlessly clean and making good use of your windscreen washers and wipers will also help.

It’s also worth remembering that you might be invisible to other road users if you’re coming out of the sun, so be aware and don’t be afraid to turn on your headlights.

Five secret driving tips from a chauffeur

Slow  down for deer

Around 74,000 deer are hit by cars every year; the risk of hitting one is highest in spring when young deer are starting to venture out , but the autumn is also a time to be wary as that's when stags are rutting. 

Hitting a deer of any size is likely to lead to a serious accident and considerable damage to your car but you can reduce the risk by slowing down whenever you see deer or signs warning of their presence. 

If you catch one in your headlights, you should slow down as deer have a tendency to freeze and then panic, running in unpredictable directions…

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Watch out for leaves

Fallen leaves aren’t just a problem on your lawn: hitting a patch of wet leaves on the road can be almost as bad as hitting black ice, so take care on country lanes and keep your speed down when you are forced to drive through them.

Have you been on an amazing road trip that you would like to share with us? We're looking for fantastic journeys our readers have been on for a new feature in the magazine. Do email with details of where you went and when, and any great pictures, along with your recommendations for places that other road users can check out on the route.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.