Prepare for the worst and hope for the best
Here’s our quick guide to what you need to do in this bad weather to reduce the risk of a breakdown and make sure that you are equipped to deal with the conditions.
Check your car
- Antifreeze – check the coolant level regularly and, if required, top-up with a mixture of the correct type of antifreeze.
- Battery – the most common cause of winter breakdowns. A battery more than five years old may struggle in the cold – get it checked and replaced if necessary to avoid the inconvenience of an unplanned failure.
- Fuel – keep at least a quarter of a tank in case of unexpected delay.
- Lights – check and clean all lights regularly to make sure you can see and be seen clearly. Carry spare bulbs.
- Tyres – should have at least 3mm of tread for winter motoring. Consider winter tyres for improved safety. Check pressures at least every fortnight.
- Windscreen – reduce dazzle from the low sun by keeping the screen clean inside and out. Now is a good time to renew worn wiper blades.
- Screen wash – use a 50% mix of a good quality screen wash to reduce the chance of freezing in frosty weather.
- Locks and door seals – stop doors freezing shut with a thin coat of polish or Vaseline on rubber door seals. A squirt of water dispersant (WD-40) in locks will help stop them freezing.
You and your passengers
As well as the things you should be carrying on every journey regardless of the weather, you should make up a winter emergency kit to keep in the boot – hopefully you won’t need it but you will be very glad it’s there if you do.
- Fully-charged mobile phone and in-car charger
- Sunglasses – to deal with glare from the sun or snow
- Personal medication
- Warning triangle
- Spare bulbs
- First aid kit
- Road atlas – in case of diversions
- Sat-nav or printed route for unfamiliar journeys
- Breakdown membership card
Winter emergency kit
- Blanket, rug or sleeping bag
- Bits of carpet or thick cardboard to place under driven wheels to help regain traction on ice or snow
- Salt, sand or cat litter – to help clear snow and ice
- Reflective jacket(s)
- Ice scraper and de-icer
- Torch and batteries
- Tow rope
- Snow chains (if you live in a remote or rural area)
- Battery jump leads
- Bottled water
- Snacks – chocolate or cereal bars
- Extra screen wash
When bad weather is forecast
- Warm winter coat, scarf, hat, gloves and warm clothes
- Sturdy boots
- Flask of hot drink