Winter Roads: is your car ready?

Cheap car insurance is quick and easy to find. Plus, if you’re renewing your policy, you can also compare quotes with breakdown and recovery services – giving you peace of mind as winter well and truly sets in. But while roadside assistance can help you continue on your way, you can cut the risk of breaking down in the first place with these top winter car tips.

winter car tips
Image credit: PxHere

Essential winter car checks before you travel

It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a few errands or planning a longer journey, as temperatures plunge, you should regularly check your car’s:

  • Windscreen – fill in any small chips or cracks before they have the chance to get any bigger. Depending on your car insurance, simple repairs could even be free so it’s worth checking your policy’s small print.
  • Lights – make sure all your lights are working properly, including fog lights. It’s also a good idea to make sure there are no cracks in the headlight casings which could lead to further damage or broken bulbs.
  • Brakes – any strange noises including squeaking or grinding should be checked sooner rather than later as it could mean brake discs or pads are worn. Your car’s handbook should also tell you how to check the car’s brake fluid level which might need topping up.
  • Tyres – your tyres must have at least 1.6mm of tread depth all the way around its circumference. Worn down treads can lead to less grip and increase stopping distances. You can do a very quick tyre tread check by putting a 20p piece into the groove of your tyre. If you can see the outer edge of the 20p, it’s an indication your tread could be too low and it’s worth a proper look.
  • Windscreen washer fluid – double check there’s enough in here so you can keep your windscreen clear of dirt and debris.
  • Battery – car batteries last on average between three and five years so if yours is as old or older than this, it’s a good idea to get it checked at a garage. If your car struggles to start, hold its charge or it starts then stops, it could be a sign the battery’s on its way out.

Prepare an emergency kit for your car

Road safety experts also recommend that you keep an emergency kit in your car, just in case you break down. Essentials you should keep in your car include:

  • Warning triangle
  • Hi-vis vest or jacket
  • De-icer or ice scraper
  • First aid kit
  • Torch
  • Spare batteries
  • Jump leads
  • Shovel
  • Phone charger or battery pack
  • Map
  • Snacks and water
  • Blankets or extra clothes to keep warm

Should I add breakdown and recovery services to my car insurance?

Breakdown and recovery services will usually be offered as an additional feature for a small increase in your premium. You’re not obliged to add it but it can provide you with reassurance, knowing that help is at hand should you need it.

You’ll need to bear in mind that what’s included in your breakdown package will vary according to your provider but as a rule, you’ll be able to choose from one of three types of service:

  • Roadside assistance – a mechanic will try to repair your car at the roadside and if they can’t, your car will be taken to the nearest garage.
  • National recovery – if your car can’t be fixed there and then, your provider will arrange for your car to be towed to a garage of your choice.
  • Onward travel – if your car can’t be repaired straight away, your provider will arrange alternative transport so you can continue your journey. This could be a hire car, taxi or public transport. In some cases, you may also be given overnight accommodation.

Broadly speaking, breakdown and recovery services are competitively priced and typically represent good value for money. These policies also offer convenience, particularly when you consider the alternative would be to make and pay for your own arrangements, including call out charges and onward travel.

To ensure you get a package that suits you, you can compare car insurance with breakdown and recovery at comparison sites like cheap car insurance. Simply answer a few questions about what you’re looking for and you’ll be shown a range of quotes from leading UK insurers. You can start your search online right now or speak to an expert on 0330 022 8825.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.