We worry a lot about driving in winter, but sometimes fall can be just as dangerous. Falling leaves and freezing rain make roads slick, while increased fog and shorter days reduce visibility. These tips will help you reduce your risk when driving this autumn.
There are a few things you can do to make sure your car is ready for the season.
If your windshield wipers are leaving streaks, now is a good time to change them. Full frame wipers are better at pushing away snow and ice than beam wipers. While you’re at it, switch to winter wiper fluid. It performs better in cool weather and stays liquid when temperatures dip below freezing.
Check your headlight alignment to make sure you’ll have maximum visibility without blinding other drivers. When your vehicle has a half tank of fuel, park it 25 feet away from a wall or garage door at night. Turn on your headlights and check the difference between the position of the headlights and the height of the lighted area on the wall. Your owner’s manual will have instructions on using your car’s adjustment screws. When properly aligned, the height and angle of the light on the wall will be identical to the center of each headlight.
Clean your windows. If you have a light, streaky haze form on your windows when they fog up, use a cleaning eraser on them. This removes the oils off-gassed by your interior plastic. Follow this up with some regular glass cleaner, and you’ll get a clear, streak-free view.
Check your tire pressure frequently. On average, your tires will lose 1-2 PSI for every 10-degree drop in temperature. Don’t rely on the TPMS sensor: it only turns the dash light on when it measures a very low tire pressure.
Look Out for Leaves
Wet leaves offer about as much traction as a layer of ice, causing your vehicle to slide if you try to brake on them. Instead, maintain your speed and make gentle steering adjustments to maintain traction. Keep an eye on leaf piles next to the road: children could be playing in them.
Don’t park your vehicle on top of leaves. Your car’s exhaust system can be hot enough to start a fire.
This is good advice all year, but particularly in September and October. As the earth tilts, the sun’s path lines up perfectly east and west. That means more glare in the early and late hours of the day as the sun sits in front of roadways. As the days get shorter, the sun is lowest at the times most people make their commute, further limiting visibility.
Use the Right Lights When Faced with Fog
Fall weather creates fog, especially lake effect fog in Waukesha County. This low-hanging cloud layer doesn’t touch the ground but actually starts a few feet above it. Low beams and fog lights shine under this layer, but high beams will reflect off the fog’s moisture, blinding you and any nearby drivers.
If you need to use your fog lights, leave your headlights on, too. The added light at the front and rear of your vehicle helps make it visible to other drivers.
Look Out for Deer
Fall is the peak season for deer activity, and we live in one of the worst places in the nation for deer-related accidents. Deer are most active just before dawn, but they can show up at any time of day or night. If you see one deer, expect others will be shortly behind. Be especially careful if you see a deer crossing sign. These are placed on stretches of road that have seen a high number of accidents.
When a collision is unavoidable, use maximum brake force. Even shaving a few MPH off your speed can make a big difference to the amount of damage the accident causes.
Be Wary of Bridges and Overpasses
Temperatures regularly dip below freezing in November, which can turn wet roads into icy ones. With no insulating layer of ground beneath the roadway, bridges and overpasses are the first places to form ice in cold weather.
When Accidents Happen, Visit Merton Auto Body
Even the most careful driver can be involved in an accident. When that happens, come see the folks at Merton Auto Body for collision repair. We’ve helped drivers in Lake Country get their cars back on the road for over 70 years. Our shop has the latest auto body repair technology, and we’re both ASE and I-CAR Gold Class Certified. We’re located in Sussex, just a short drive from Pewaukee, Lisbon, North Lake, Waukesha, and Delafield.