Autumn is here, with cooler weather and the changing leaves, not to mention jeans and sweaters and changing driving conditions. Wait, you weren’t expecting that last bit? Yes, as the weather changes, you need to be aware of changes to your car and the environment! Here are a few things to watch out for as you enjoy that pumpkin spice latte on your leaf-peeping tour:
- Tire pressures – you might remember from science class that air expands when it gets warmer, and contracts when it gets cooler, which will impact your tire pressure. A good rule of thumb for most cars is for every 10 degrees cooler, you’ll lose 1 psi in tire pressure. Keep those tires pumped up for better handling, better fuel economy, and less tire wear!
- Beautiful fall leaves on the ground – even dry leaves between the road and your tires can reduce traction, and wet leaves can be like driving on ice. Did I mention ice? If the temperature drops below freezing, and wet leaves freeze, they can stay that way even after the temperature rises. Make sure to slow down if there are leaves on the road and increase the distance between you and another car. Leaves also make it hard to see potholes and bumps, and kids love to play in leaf piles, so never drive through a leaf pile.
- The time change – even before we turn back the clocks in fall, there are fewer hours of daylight. Your evening commute may change from bright and sunny to twilight, or if you are driving west, the setting sun may be in your eyes. And what do people do after work? They walk their dogs, go for a jog, ride their bicycles, or play with their kids, even in the fading light. Make sure you watch for them, and make sure your headlights are clean and in good condition. Bonus – if you’re one of those westbound commuters we mentioned, now is the time to treat yourself to a good pair of sunglasses!
- Deer and other wildlife – we already mentioned that deer are more active in the fall, but the earlier darkness makes nocturnal animals more likely to be out as well. While an encounter with an opossum or raccoon isn’t likely to directly damage your car, it can be distracting, and a direct hit might create an unexpected bump causing you to swerve.