Fall On the Road

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Falling leaves present a beautiful safety hazard

Watching leaves turn brilliant shades of color and fall from the trees is a favorite activity each fall. Drivers travel near and far to witness spectacular and colorful displays of fall foliage, hoping to catch the peak hues in their respective areas of the country.

While falling leaves can be a sight to behold, those leaves can become a nuisance to drivers in various ways. Understanding certain inconveniences and safety risks posed by falling leaves can help motorists protect their vehicle and themselves.

Staining

Leaves can do more than just stain driveways; they also can damage a vehicle's paint job. Should wet leaves, sap and other chemicals that leach out of the leaves stay on a car for an extended period of time, they can cause an outline stain and damage to the paint.

It's important to manually pick leaves off of the car's surface right after they fall. Do not sweep them away; otherwise the leaves can scratch the paint surface. When all the leaves have been removed, thoroughly wash and dry the vehicle.

Should stains be present already, use a commercial leaf-stain remover or automotive paint cleaner. Tackle one stain at a time.

Clogging

Leaves that fall can become trapped in air intake vents, eventually impeding flow and causing odors. Leaves that fall in the groove of the windshield by the windshield wipers should be removed. Use a high-powered shop vacuum to remove any leaves that are imbedded in the venting.

Check other areas of the car where leaves can become problematic, such as under the vehicle or in the rear exhaust pipe.

Slippery surfaces

The Car Care Council notes that wet leaves on the surface of roadways can be hazardous. Wet leaves can make roadways quite slippery, even as slippery as roadways when snow is falling. Drivers should slow down when roads are covered with wet leaves and take turns and off-ramps more carefully.

Dry leaves also can pose problems, as they tend to accumulate at the edges of roads, where they easily can obscure curbs or street markings. Leaves may fill potholes, giving the false impression that a road is smooth and causing damage to tires and suspension systems when drivers drive over them.

Autumn leaves may be beautiful to see, but they can complicate driving and fall car care. Motorists should keep their cars clear of leaves and use caution on roadways.