Winter tips and advice for your car

As we approach December the temperature is now dropping significantly following a very mild October and November this year. 

If you already have breakdown cover, this time of year you can be kept waiting for a good couple of hours for help to arrive.

The most common call out in the winter between December and February related to a flat batteries and tyre issues.

How to avoid a winter breakdown

Prevention is better than cure, and some simple maintenance and common sense steps could keep you on the road without event this winter.

  • Always MOT your car by the due date and service your vehicle as required for optimum safety and performance.
  • The average lifespan of a car battery is 4 to 5 years. Check your car battery voltage with a voltmeter.
  • Check your headlights and replace any bulbs now – including your fog lights.
  • Make sure your windscreen washer is topped up and antifreeze is available.
  • Keep an eye on your tyre pressure and tread in the winter months. If you live somewhere where it’s prone to snow and ice, it may even be worth considering purchasing a set of winter tyres. Tyres drop pressure in cold weather so keep checking the tyre levels to ensure they are safe.

Emergency winter car kit

Whether you choose to buy one, or make one yourself, it’s important to spend time getting the contents right.  Many of these items can be bought at a supermarket or online, and some you may already have at home.

Items you may benefit from having:

  • De Icer and Windscreen Scraper
  • Spare Phone Charger
  • Bottle of water
  • Hat and gloves
  • Torch with spare batteries
  • Warm blanket
  • Hi vis Jacket
  • Jumper Cables
  • Hazard Sign
  • First Aid Kit

Depending on your boot space you could consider a snow shovel, snacks for emergencies, jump starter power packs just in case another vehicle isn’t around and an umbrella.

How to charge your car battery

The most common cause of winter breakdowns is a fault with a battery.

A common cause of a flat battery is using your car for lots of smaller trips, leaving the battery little time to charge up in between journeys. This is particularly common if your battery is old.

Additionally leaving lights on when the engine is off is another main factor.

If this happens to you, there are some things you can do to jump-start your car.

  1. Park the vehicle with the fully-charged battery facing the car with the flat one.
  2. Turn both cars off and engage parking brakes.
  3. Dead car: place red clamp on the (+) on the dead battery.
  4. Helper car: place red clamp on the (+) on the battery on their car.
  5. Helper car: place black clamp on the (-) on the battery of their car.
  6. Dead car: place black clamp on an unpainted metal surface.
  7. Wait 5 minutes.
  8. Start the helper car first, then start the dead car.
  9. If it doesn’t start immediately, wait another 10 minutes.
  10. Once running, leave the leads attached for 10 minutes to charge the dead battery.
  11. Remove clamps in reverse order.
  12. Take the car for a 30-minute drive.
Remember – safety first!
  • Call an expert if you are unsure, see signs of leaking, erosion, smoke or anything suspicious.
  • Never touch the battery with anything metal.

If you are still unsuccessful, you will likely need breakdown cover. A lot of motor insurance policies offer breakdown cover for an additional fee.  For peace of mind, you can add this to your car insurance policy – if you haven’t arranged this already and would like to find out about adding this to your existing policy – give us a call on 01256 463090 or contact us here.