Owning a car in winter means undertaking maintenance and planning for the worst-case scenarios. Don’t just wish that you’d kitted out your car with necessary accessories after you’re stuck at the side of the road, plan now to avoid problems in the future!
The following are essentials that every car owner and driver should invest in for happy, safe motoring throughout the colder months.
There’s no dressing this up – you need breakdown cover. Regardless of whether you love vintage cars or modern ones, if your engine stops working the way it should, it’s unlikely that you’ll have every tool and spare you need to get it back up and running – you’ll need assistance to get home.
Breakdown cover often comes as standard from a highly rated car insurance provider that seeks to offer a comprehensive package. Usually, this comes alongside legal assistance and a courtesy car as well. You can always buy cover independently though, with even the most premium service levels costing just a few pounds a month. You’ll want to get a phone charger for the car too, so you can always call your service.
The right fluids
De-icer, washer fluid, a big bottle of water and a can of fuel are all recommended fluids to keep in your car over winter. You can make your own washer fluid – with a heavily diluted mix of water and dish soap – but de-icer will need to be bought from a garage or motoring shop.
When it comes to fuel, make sure you buy a proper fuel can and wipe any excess fuel from the outside before placing it in your boot. The smell can be overpowering otherwise.
A winter service
It never hurts to have a professional check over your car before the worst weather hits. Ask about anything you’re unsure of, including if your tyres still have decent tread on them, if your heating seems to be working properly and if you need things like a new fuel filter. Essentially, you want to make sure that your car is ready to jump in and drive, every morning without fail. If there are any niggly jobs that need doing, don’t wait until it’s snowing outside to get them done.
We all know what a pain it can be, waiting for our windscreen to defrost before we can set off, but if you have a chip or crack, even one that’s been repaired, you are at serious risk. Let’s say you forget about your windscreen chip and you’re in a hurry one morning, so you pour warm water across the surface to hurry the defrosting process. The fast change in temperature of the glass could easily cause irreparable damage and mean that you need to wait for a full windscreen replacement, which will cost you at least a large excess.
Negate the issue of frosty screens by placing covers on them when you park up, thereby protecting the surface and preventing frost from settling.
Having a light that doesn’t work is more than a legal pickle (you can and will get pulled over by the police if they see you), it can also be dangerous. If you are unable to effectively signal, see the road ahead of you or let other drivers know you are braking, accidents become a lot more likely. Even if you’re not sure how to fit them, having bulbs in your glove box will mean that your breakdown assistance (or a friendly passer-by!) can definitely help.
Fresh wiper blades
This is the UK, which means we are definitely going to have rain, sleet and maybe snow during the next few months. Don’t struggle with streaky wiper blades that barely clear your screen when for a few pounds more, you can invest in some nice wipers. We know that being a grown-up seemed so fun when you were younger, but honestly, the satisfaction of fitting new, efficient wiper blades is hard to deny.
A usable spare wheel
So many people forget to check the tyre on their spare wheel, but you don’t have to be one of them. Next time you’re at the petrol station, just detour to the pressure machine and make sure it’s holding enough air.
Blankets and snacks
Finally, make sure you have an emergency kit in the boot of your car. You’ll want warm blankets, easily prepared snacks and a first aid kit, just in case you have any problems or a long wait for recovery. Plan ahead for the worst-case scenario, with the most vulnerable member of your household in mind.
Prioritise your safety this winter by being a responsible and prepared driver. Stay warm, be steady and above all else, invest in these must-have safety essentials.