The 11 essential car accessories for winter driving
If you’re daring to venture out in the worst weather the UK can throw at you, then you need to ensure your car has the essential accessories to keep you safe, warm and on the road.
This list it itself isn’t exhaustive, and if you only want the minimum, then it’s worth keeping in mind that you can get emergency winter car kits from loads of places like Amazon, Halfords and even service stations. They will have essential things like small shovels, torches and jump leads all in one place.
The top 11 winter accessories
1. Ice scraper
A vital part of any winter car kit. Not only is it illegal to drive without a properly de-iced windscreen, if you have an accident without clearing it properly, it could also make your insurance invalid too.
Similar to the ice scraper above, de-icer will ensure you’re not breaking any laws with a frosty windscreen. The best part is, this will save you a little elbow grease and time too!
Even if you scrape every droplet of snow and water off your windscreen before you set off, as soon as you drive out onto the road you’ll have fresh snow, ice, grit and dirt to contend with. You tend to use your windscreen washers more often in the winter, so it’s handy to have some spare fluid on-board to keep you motoring safely.
If the worst should happen and you find yourself stranded, you’ll discover that one of the main things you take for granted is the ability to see! With less daylight than any other time of the year, a torch will come in a lot handier than you think.
You never know when you may have to dig yourself out of the snow. If you opted to take a smaller road, then there will be a lot less traffic and you’ll be harder to reach, so a shovel is essential should the worst happen.
6. Mobile phone (and phone charger)
There’s nothing worse than getting stranded and not being able to call for help. Keep your phone on you with plenty of battery (and credit) so you can get in touch with someone when you most need it.
7. Blanket/warm clothes
And don’t forget the gloves! Blankets are vital if you end up stranded in your car for a long time, and don’t think it will never happen to you! (Remember in Feb/March 2018, people were stuck overnight in their cars on the M80 in Scotland?) Warm clothes are essential if you get yourself wet and cold trying to dig yourself out of the snow, especially if you can’t use the heaters in your car to warm up.
8. Food and drink – not perishable
Like the blanket, you’ll need some food and drink if you’re stuck in your car for an extended period of time. Ensure that the food you keep in your car isn’t perishable – snacks like cereal bars will have a lot of energy in a small amount too.
With limited visibility and less traction on the road, if you’re stranded you’ll need to let other traffic know you’re there ASAP.
10. Jump leads
A flat battery is inconvenient at the best of times, but if you’re stuck in the ice and snow it’s pretty miserable. Since you’re likely to be sticking the heat on full, your battery is more likely to give up in the cold, so, jump leads are the best way to get you going again!
11. Traction tracks
Despite the weather getting worse in the UK, we rarely have to use the likes of snow chains or snow socks to get around – or at least if we did, it would only last a day or two!
Traction tracks are a compact solution to get you moving again should you get bogged down in the snow, and the best part is, they can be used for mud, grass and sand too.
Others to think about
This is perfect to help you out if you are going to commute. No one likes having to stand in the cold and de-ice the windscreen when you’re already behind schedule. The frost guard is a small buy that could save you a lot of time!
In the snow visibility is everything. Should one of your headlamps pop, it will need to be replaced pronto. Carrying spare bulbs is the easiest way to keep yourself safe on the move, and this is good practice throughout the rest of the year too!
Yes, we mean the paper kind. Electric ones can run out of battery.
This should be in your car all year round, and winter drives are an excellent opportunity to ensure that it is full and easily accessible in the cabin.
When standing on the side of the road in the dark, you’ll want to be seen! That’s whether you’re waiting for help to arrive or to ensure that other road users will spot you.
Even if you don’t have a tow bar on your car, this is still a key item to have in your boot. If you can’t pull someone out of a ditch or the snow, having the rope on you might mean a passer-by can rescue you quickly.
Like warm clothing, boots (preferably waterproof) are essential to keep you warm and are definitely needed if you are to work outside in the snow.
Put it this way, trainers probably aren’t your best option.
If you’re stuck somewhere and keep your car running to keep you warm, you’ll soon see that the fuel in your tank won’t last forever. An empty jerry can give you the opportunity to fill up without calling for help (unless you need a taxi to the fuel station.)
Jump start battery packs have started to come down a lot in price recently. Having one of these in your boot means you won’t have to rely on someone else to get your car going, and can even charge up your phone if you’re on the brink too!
The best course of action for driving in adverse conditions? Don’t.
But we know that sometimes this cannot be helped. Just know that the longer you plan on driving, the more you put yourself at risk. So, if you’re planning a long trip make sure you check the weather, the roads, and ensure someone knows that you’re travelling.
And since we all have a smartphone today, all of that is only in your pocket, so there’s no reason not to!