Winter isn't just the worst time to breakdown, it's also the most likely time to happen. A combination of icy roads, poor visibility and cold engines make it the worst time of year to head out on a long drive. We know it can be unavoidable, however so, follow these helpful tips to minimise the risk of a breakdown.
When the forecasters start predicting wintry weather you should check your car thoroughly and make sure it is serviced.
- Fuel – keep your car fuelled with at least a quarter tank at all times and even more on longer journeys.
- Coolant levels – check this regularly and top up with the correct antifreeze.
- Battery – should also be checked as it is a very common cause of winter breakdown, old batteries can struggle in cold.
- Tyres – special winter tyres are not always an option so make sure you have at least 3mm of tread and check the tyre pressures every fortnight.
- Spare bulbs – in case your headlights go out.
- Windscreen – keep your windscreen clean and use a 50% mix of good quality screen wash to reduce the chance of freezing in cold weather.
Sometimes though, despite all the preparation, breakdowns and accidents can be unavoidable. Follow these tips and make sure you have everything on our checklist to ensure safety if the worst does happen.
- Inform someone of where you're going and the route you're going to take before a long trip.
- Keep your mobile phone charged.
- If stuck, make sure you're visible with lights, reflectors and/or a fluorescent flag. Keep your car lights on or if you are worried about draining the battery then keep an eye out for cars and signal them when they go past.
- Stay in your car, wandering off in poor visibility could lead to you getting lost or too tired.
- Only run the engine for 10 minutes an hour to keep the exhaust pipe free of snow. Snow can plug your vehicle's exhaust system and cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to enter your car.
- High visibility vest or jacket – in some European countries such as France it's a requirement to carry one for every passenger in your car at all times.
- Windshield scraper
- Torch – in case you need to signal while saving your car battery life.
- Spare batteries
- Water – both for yourself and to top up your car. You should keep water in smaller bottles so it is quicker and easier to defrost if it freezes.
- Extra clothing – particularly hats, socks and gloves to keep you warm while you wait for help.
- First aid kit – including any necessary medications you take.
- Tow chain/rope
- Grit salt – cat litter can also be used.
- Booster cables/battery jump leads
- Emergency lights/reflectors – ideal for signalling down help.
- Fluorescent flag
- Sunglasses – to prevent the dazzle caused by winter glare.
- Warning triangle – helps other drivers aware of your situation.
Do you have any other tips for winter driving? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments section below.