Male and female with two young children packing up red car.

Five essential car checks to do this autumn

It doesn't seem so long ago we were all making the most of a heatwave sweeping the UK. But autumn has officially arrived, bringing with it shorter days and colder, wetter weather we all need to prepare for.

As well as digging out warmer clothes and turning on the central heating, you need to get your car prepared for the colder weather. If you don't, you run a greater risk of breaking down – and no one wants that when it's wet and dark outside.

Here are five important checks to carry out on your car this autumn:

1. Lights

As the nights draw in, you need to be certain all your car's lights are working. Test them one by one – if a bulb is out, replace it as soon as possible.

While the thought of cleaning your car in the cold might not be appealing, washing the windows, lights and windscreen on a regular basis will ensure good visibility when driving in poor weather conditions.

2. Battery

After a summer of taking it easy, your car's battery is put to the test yet again when wipers, heating and lights are used more. Plummeting temperatures also play a part, so to check if your battery is up to the job, ask someone to watch the lights as you switch on more of the electrical systems. Dimming may mean the battery needs a top-up, as may a dull, whirring sound from your starter motor.

If the battery doesn't charge properly, it might be time to replace it. They're inexpensive to buy and will save you hassle later down the line. You can also preserve the battery by turning down the heating once you're a comfortable temperature, and only turning on electrical systems when the car's running.

3. Inlets

They're fun to crunch through, but autumn's falling leaves have a tendency to block up car inlets. In serious cases this can cause the engine to overheat, so make sure you clear them off before you drive away.

If you've noticed the windscreen getting a little steamy recently, this might be because leaves have clogged the inlets where the wipers start – open the bonnet to check, and clear them out if need be.

4. Wipers

Ideally, you should replace your wipers once a year to guarantee max performance, as well as if your wipers are smearing the windscreen or squeaking. The adverse weather conditions autumn and winter bring will put your wipers to the test, making now the perfect time to invest in a new set.

You can prolong the life of wipers by removing excess debris (whether that's fallen leaves, twigs or snow later in the year) before turning them on.

5. Tyres

Seeing as the tyres are the only objects on your car that make contact with the road, it's vital they're in tip-top condition – especially with autumn's wetter, colder weather, and the fallen leaves making patches of road super slippery.

Tyre checks should be carried out once a fortnight minimum – the correct pressure for your tyres can be found in the manual. The legal tread depth is 1.6mm, though the RAC suggests 3mm.

At Hastings Direct we offer lots of extras you can add to your insurance policy like breakdown cover – if you want to check your policy includes breakdown cover, you can have a look in your MyAccount.

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