Drivers could face £2,000 in damage costs if they fail to clear leaves

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A new season brings a host of new problems for car owners. As drivers battle the elements in autumn, experts at Go Car Credit created a list of top tips to keep cars running smoothly and save motorists money.

Damage caused by leaves to cars is the last thing drivers might expect this autumn, yet it can cause clogged air filters, or even electric fires under the bonnet.

Hayley O’Connor at Go Car Credit said: “In these costly and uncertain times, we all want to avoid paying unnecessary expenses.

“If you experienced all of these issues due to leaf damage, it could cost you upwards of £2,342.

“As such, we’ve created a checklist of things to look out for this autumn to help our customers keep their cars at their best for longer.”

Some of the key damages that can be caused by leaves include: 

  • Paintwork rots – £400
  • Obstructed radiator – £250-£500
  • Clogged air filter – From £100
  • Electric fires under the bonnet – From £1,000
  • Clogged sunroof drain – £200
  • Hidden Potholes – £142

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Paintwork rots

One of the most common car issues caused by leaves is paintwork rot. Wet leaves cause acidic tree sap to bond to the car surface, damaging the paint finish and causing window stains.

The strength of the tannic acid in leaves can vary from tree to tree but can be as damaging as bird droppings.

Small spots can be treated quickly by gently rubbing distilled vinegar on the affected area. However, if left for too long, paint correction is often the only option to repair the damage. Continued exposure to wet leaves can even lead to rust.

Cost of paint correction: From £400

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Obstructed radiator

Leaves can frequently become trapped and lodged in many areas of a vehicle.

If they clog and obstruct the radiator it can lead to overheating problems as the fans pull air and leaves through to the radiator.

Drivers should make sure they regularly check the lower grille and radiator to remove any leaf debris.

If debris is stuck behind the grille and out of reach, motorists should take the car to a professional to be cleaned. Failure to remove blocked leaves could result in the engine overheating or damage to the radiator which results in leaking.

Cost of replacement radiator: From £250-500

Clogged air filter

Another place leaves can become lodged is the air filter. Clogged filters can reduce air intake and cause poor engine performance when unburned fuel results in sooty residue accumulating on spark plugs.

When dirt enters the engine it can cause damage to a variety of other internal components, all of which can become costly. Air filters that are left dirty or clogged for too long will need replacing.

Cost of replacing air filter: From £100

Electric fires under the bonnet

Trapped leaves can accumulate under the bonnet of a car. The heat of the engine dries the leaves which can act as kindling for electrical fires.

It’s important to regularly clear leaves from the hood and check under the bonnet to remove any debris that could pose a fire risk. Fire damage to cars can cost thousands of pounds.

Cost of repairing fire damage: From £1,000

Clogged sunroof drain

Drivers might not know they even have one, but if they have a sunroof, chances are they have a sunroof drain.

These are notorious for becoming blocked with leaves and debris. Drivers can check if their sunroof drain is blocked by pouring a small amount of water into the well near the drainage hole and seeing if it goes down.

If it drains slowly or not at all then they will need to unblock it.

Cost of unblocking sunroof drain: £200

Hidden potholes

As well as clogging up cars, autumn leaves can also clog up the roads. Heavy leaf fall can make potholes harder to see when driving.

As a result, drivers maintain their speed over hazardous holes which can lead to costly car damage.

The average cost of repair to a car damaged by a pothole in the UK is £142.

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