The bizarre fire hazard autumn leaves pose to drivers

The bizarre fire hazard autumn leaves pose to drivers
The bizarre fire hazard autumn leaves pose to drivers

Motorists are being warned of an unusual seasonal threat to their cars that can cause everything from paint damage to a fire risk.

The autumnal fall of leaves looks spectacular but can be potentially dangerous for drivers, posing a skid risk on the road as well as causing less obvious problems.

According to Mark Tongue of Select Car Leasing, the impact of falling leaves building up on a car can range from musty air circulating in the cabin to electrical gremlins and even fire risk.

He said: “Most motorists know the dangers posed by leaves on the road in autumn. They create a skid hazard, they camouflage potholes and other road irregularities, and they’re a particular nemesis of motorcyclists.

“But what you might not realise is that leaves can create carnage for vehicles in other ways, too.

“Our advice is to think twice about parking your car under trees for a prolonged period of time, and you need to de-leaf your car as regularly as you can during autumn.”

Among the lesser-know threats highlighted by Mark are:

Paintwork rot

If leaves fall on your car and are left there for more than a few days they begin to decompose and release chemicals including tannic acid – on to your paintwork.

This acid can leech into the paint and in many cases the stain it leaves behind is virtually impossible to remove without professional help.

Washing and waxing your car regularly should repel the worst of what leaves can throw at paintwork. And if you do end up with minor staining, there are commercial products available to shift it.

Electrical faults

Leaves and foliage which fall onto cars tend to gather in the gully where the the windscreen meets the bonnet. This plenum chamber has drain holes to allow rain to escape but if it becomes clogged with leaves the water can’t drain away and ends up seeping into the car’s interior.

At best you’ll end up with soggy carpets, which will leave you car smelling and filling with condensation.

At worst, the water could find its way into electrical systems behind the dashboard, causing damage, faults and potentially even an electrical fire if a component goes wrong.

Fogging

As well as blocking drain holes a build-up of leaves will clog air vents into the car. This will make drawing fresh air into the car harder and mean your heater will struggle to demist windows quickly.

Skid risk

Leaves are one of the big autumn risks for motorists, and it’s all about a reduction in traction. The roads might already be covered in a layer of frost, making it harder for your tyres to grip. And things get even slippier when you introduce wet leaves into the mix. It’s one of the main reasons why you should never, ever get too close to the car in front.”

Pothole damage

Potholes cause an estimated £915 million of damage to cars every year and no matter how careful drivers are, a fall of leaves in the wrong place can quickly disguise a potentially damaging road defect.

Mark’s advice to minimising the damage caused by these hidden horrors is making sure your tyres are at the correct pressure – not to soft to damage tyre walls, and not too hard that your suspension takes a battering.

Also be aware that leaves can also mask painted lines on the road. Give the leaves a quick kick with your foot when you park to make sure you’re not accidentally sitting on a double yellow line.

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