Winter weather has a serious affect on car health, as colder temperatures put added strain on your car. The added strain causes more faults to arise so it's worth considering a car warranty to protect against repair costs. You're consequently more likely to breakdown, so check you've got breakdown cover and take a look at our Winter Checklist BEFORE you risk exposure to those harsh conditions.
Some of these items may seem obvious, but it's worth taking a few minutes to double check you have them in your vehicle.
Breakdown Tip 1: Ice Scraper and De Icer
These are probably two of the more basic items that should be kept in your car. You cannot drive if you can't see and an ice scraper might need manual effort but it is still effective, while a can or spray bottle of de-icer speeds up the process.
In wintry conditions you obviously need to do this before setting off but remember to keep it in your car so you can use it ahead of your return journey, or incase you are stranded somewhere and there is a chance the windscreen might frost over. It's also worth taking a look at our guide to demisting your car.
You can grab one from your local Halfords or supermarket.
Breakdown Tip 2: Torch and Spare Batteries
If you get stuck by the side of a country road, your battery is flat and it is dark this can be pretty scary. Having a large torch with spare batteries or a wind up torch with no need for batteries should be something you keep in your car.
Again this can be picked up in your local Halfords or DIY shop.
Breakdown Tip 3: In Car Phone Charger
If you breakdown while on the last 10% of your mobile phone battery and with no way of charging it, you are in a sticky situation. Most people probably have an in car charger or battery pack but if you don't you should really get one just in case. Once charged, call your breakdown cover provider and wait for assistance.
If you breakdown in the middle of nowhere and there's no phone signal, I'm afraid you are either going to have to walk to a house or wait for a passing motorist to stop and help, if they are kind enough to do so.
Petrol garages are usually pretty good at having these, but you can pick a cheaper one up on Amazon for a few pounds.
Breakdown Tip 4: Warm Clothes and Blankets
It may be more comfortable to drive your car without a coat on but you should definitely have one in the car. A breakdown could potentially mean a long wait with no heating, especially if roads are treacherous, so it is only fitting to have some warm clothes in the car - a big coat, gloves, spare jumper and hat.
Don't be selfish either, make sure all passengers also have warm clothes in the car when going on any journey.
Breakdown Tip 5: High-Visibility Jacket
Being seen by other motorists in the dark is essential so having some high vis clothing is going to be really useful in the coming winter months.
Halfords or your local DIY store will be the best place to find one of these for a few pounds.
Breakdown Tip 6: Food and Drink
Who doesn't have a snack on them for when they are driving!? In winter there is every chance you could be at the roadside for a while if weather conditions are bad, so always make sure you have something to keep you sustained, especially if you have kids. We recommend a big flask of something warm to keep you going, you can always drink it when you get to your destination.
Breakdown Tip 7: Boots With Good Grip
If you are going to get out of your car in wintry conditions stilettos are not recommended. Something that will make sure you can walk around your car safely is important to have on you. If you're really keen you can buy slip on snow shoes that go over the shoes you're wearing to give you extra grip.
Halfords are also the best bet for something like this, or any good garage.
Breakdown Tip 8: Jump Start Cables
Dead or flat batteries are 51% more likely to occur in cold weather, but they can happen at any time, so jump start cables are essential to have. Just by having them a passing motorist can get you back on the road.
Breakdown Tip 9: Empty Fuel Can
This is another item you should have with you at all times because sometimes breakdowns aren't caused by anything other than you running out of fuel. All you now need to do is find your way to a petrol station, lets hope you aren't on a country road in the middle of nowhere.
Breakdown Tip 10: Two Reflective Warning Signs
Across many European nations a reflective triangle is a legal requirement. The reason you need two is so that you can position one at the front of your car and one at the back. The one at the back should be at least 45 metres or 147 feet behind the car. And never use it on the motorway!
Breakdown Tip 11: First Aid Kit
You should have a first aid kit all year round but during winter it is essential to be able to treat any minor injuries that might come from slipping on ice. Your first aid kit should include sterlie cleansing wipes, washproof plasters in assorted sizes, dressings, scissors, nitrile powder-free gloves and a Revive-Aid resuscitation face shield or something similar.
In car first aid kits can be picked up in most big supermarkets, pharmacies or your local petrol garage, or buy the bits individually and make your own.
Breakdown Tip 12: Sunglasses
I personally always keeps a pair in the car as you never know when the British weather might decide to be nice and show some sun. In winter however driving towards the low winter sun can cause serious visual impairment, so always keep a pair to hand.
Breakdown Tip 13: A Road Atlas
We are going back old school and even though you might have a Sat Nav that never gets you lost, it probably won't know the way in a diversion, so it is always best to have a map just in case you need to work out a route.
In the event of a dead battery, even if you get the car running again you might not want to turn electrical devices on so a map is going to help.
You can still find these in Halfords or on Amazon.
Breakdown Tip 14: Shovel
If there has been particularly deep snow, you live in the middle of nowhere, no roads have been gritted and you are on your last tin of carrots, then a shovel is going to be needed in case you get stuck in deep snow. This is relatively unlikely in the UK, especially down south but you never know. You can even get foldable ones for when boot space is limited.
Halfords or Amazon is the place to find one of these especially if you want a foldable one.