Autumn officially started on Tuesday 22 September 2020 and marked the start of leaf-filled roads, nights drawing in, icy windscreens and low sun.
But Autumn also can be an awkward – and sometimes dangerous – time of the year for Northern Ireland motorists.
Here are our four essential Autumn driving tips.
1. Look after your car’s essentials
Your car has so many different parts that all need to be working correctly to ensure your safety and for hassle-free journeys.
Some of the essentials include your battery, lights, tyres and engine.
Most car batteries last between three and five years, and whether you’ve changed it recently or not, it’s always good practice to keep an eye on it.
A lot of garages and stores like Halfords offer free car battery checks, and Autumn is the ideal time to check yours.
The darker evenings are on their way, and as a result, you’ll need your lights now more than ever.
Get into the practice of checking all lights every two-three weeks; enlist the help of a family member so you can sit in the driver’s seat and turn on each light while a family member stands outside the car and confirms if each switch on.
Check your tyres throughout the year but especially in Autumn; by law, your car tyres should be at least 1.6mm of tread depth.
Get into the habit of regularly checking your tyre’s air pressure, particularly before long journeys.
Check all of your car’s fluids too and refill them if necessary; this includes antifreeze and engine oil.
2. Take care on country lanes and roads
Autumn heralds the beginning of leaves falling all over roads, darker evenings and poor visibility.
Country lanes that aren’t well maintained pose particular hazards for local drivers.
The NI Government advises, “It may seem obvious but expecting the unexpected can help you stay safe, especially if you suddenly encounter ice, mud or wet leaves on the road, animals, or slow-moving farm machinery.”
Fallen leaves can make the road more slippery so always err on the side of caution and slow down.
Leaves also might fall and hide potholes that can damage your car or affect your control of the vehicle.
Keep an eye out for wildlife too; country roads are notorious for collisions between cars and foxes, rabbits, badgers and deer.
3. Be wary of the sun.
In the Autumn, the sun is lower in the sky, and the glare can pose serious visibility problems whilst driving.
Keep your windscreen clean and free of smudges and use your sun visors (or a pair of sunglasses) to avoid getting dazzled by the glares.
If you’re driving and there is a sun glare on the road then slow down; a sun glare dangerously affects visibility.
4. Top up windscreen washer fluid and check your wipers
Rain, mushy leaves, mud and grit, mean our cars are always facing some windscreen enemies.
Expect your wipers to be constantly in use to repel rain and all sorts of insects.
Make sure your windscreen wiper blades are in good condition and if not, change them immediately.
Regularly check your washer fluid is topped up too; you’ll use lots of it throughout the Autumn to clean the muck and grime off your windscreen.
NIBA is a collective of independent repairers operating in the car and light commercial vehicle market in Northern Ireland. If you need help with vehicle repairs, click here.