Car Care: Do not ‘leaf’ it too long
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You have to love autumn. The weather’s cooling off, the leaves are turning beautiful shades and fluttering their way from the trees to the ground.
The problem is that they land on everything else built or parked in their way, creating business opportunities for gutter and drain cleaners, and playing havoc with our motor vehicles.
One wet leaf left to rot on vehicle bodywork can cause an unsightly stain or paint blemish due to the sap, pollen and acids found in them.
This will most likely stay for life on the paint of your car unless caught early and treated, or polished out.
Leaves can get in to the darndest places, finding their way down the sides of the bonnet and the boot or tailgate seams.
Once the paint is damaged, it is no longer protected from moisture, which can lead to rust. But it doesn’t stop there. Leaves can block vehicle drains and channels causing water to back up and leak into places it shouldn’t.
If you’ve had a vehicle with a sunroof, then you may know what we are talking about. Maybe you’ve even experienced an unintended shower on the odd occasion.
When drains block, water can leak inside the cabin and cause damage to electrical components, which can often go unnoticed until a problem occurs. By then, it can be expensive to fix.
In autumn, it’s important to regularly check, clean or replace pollen and air filters, which take in outside air and can be prone to filling with leaves and sticks.
A regular check will ensure the engine can breathe and your heater fan and vent system will work. No one likes to hear the chewing of leaves when you turn the fan on, and it’s even less enjoyable when torn up leaves are propelled out the heater vents.
Leaves on the ground can also present their fair share of headaches. They can mask hazards in the road like potholes and kerbs, and can also make soft ground seem hard.
Extra care needs to be taken while driving on roads littered with slippery wet leaves. On the other hand, a pile of dry leaves could start smouldering if a car with a hot exhaust system parks over it.
So what can be done?
If you don’t intend to drive your vehicle for some time, avoid parking under deciduous trees. Shelter it instead in a garage or beneath evergreens which are less likely to shed their leaves.
If you don’t have sheltered parking, consider investing in a car cover, which can protect not only against leaf damage but also the effects of ultraviolet rays, bird droppings, salt air and rain.
If you have little choice about where you park your car, or you leave your car parked only overnight, remove leaves daily. Using your hands can limit the amount of scratches they may cause, or you can use a soft brush to sweep them off.
Once all the leaves have fallen and autumn gives way to winter, give your car a deep clean, wax it and remove all the leaves that may be hiding in small spots, like under windscreen wipers.
The bottom line is the same old story — wash your vehicle often.