What do you need in a car winter safety kit?
From tyre socks to first aid kits, here are some winter essentials worth having in your car for the colder months
Driving during winter can be a challenge for even the most experienced motorist. Icy and snow-covered roads need careful navigation, while mist and fog can quickly hamper visibility.
Your car is also at greater risk in the winter months, and there’s nothing worse than a breakdown in the cold. Having to face the elements with your car immobile at the roadside isn’t great news – with that in mind, it’s well worth assembling a winter safety kit to make sure your car and passengers are taken care of before getting back on the road.
If you’re looking for tools, accessories and gear online, then eBay has an ever-growing range of products to choose from, including showrooms for many recognised brands. So what exactly do you need in a car winter safety kit? Here are some of the basics to get you started.
Ice scrapers and demister pads
Ice and mist over your windscreen and mirrors are pretty much guaranteed in wintry weather, so it’s crucial that they’re clear and give you good visibility, whether you’re setting out on a journey or having to deal with the elements after a breakdown.
The Highway Code states that all windows, lights and number plates must be clear of snow, otherwise motorists risk a fine and penalty points on their licence. Don’t rely on your windscreen wipers to get rid of snow, instead pick up an ice scraper, de-icer and a demister pad to take care of this particular job.
Torch and spare bulbs
As we lose daylight hours in the winter, there’s a high chance you’ll need to navigate around your car in the dark. It’s best not to rely on your smartphone light, instead invest in a dedicated tool for the job in the form of a torch. In the event of a breakdown, this will help guide you to a safe place while you wait for assistance.
If your headlights happen to go out, it’s worth springing for a spare bulb (Auto Express’s 2021 product test recommends Twenty20’s plus 150 per cent bulb, the Philips RacingVision GT200 and Osram’s Night Breaker Laser), as replacing these yourself is a fairly straightforward job.
Take care of your tyres
Not many modern cars come with a full-size spare wheel, but there’s still plenty you can do to protect your tyres or patch them up before you have a new one in place. Tyre socks are a simple solution for driving on snow-covered roads – just pull them over your wheels for improved grip and safety. This set from Snocks is a good option, but make sure any tyre socks you buy match up with your wheel size before making a purchase.
First aid and emergency kits
A first aid kit is something that you should have in your car all-year-round, not just in winter. They’re vital if you find yourself involved in a road collision, but also for dealing with less serious cuts, scrapes and burns.
There’s no legal requirement in the UK to carry a first aid kit in your car, but it’s worth investing in one for your own and peace of mind – and if you’re driving overseas it should be noted that many European countries require one by law. It’s a similar case in Europe for safety accessories like reflective jackets and red warning triangles – neither are required in the UK but they’re well worth having to ensure you’re visible in the event of a breakdown.
It’s also wise to think about getting yourself a fire extinguisher and window hammer. Having these on hand could stop a serious collision becoming much worse, and ensure you and your passengers can get out of your vehicle if you need to.
Power packs and jump starters
If you’re stuck outside for any length of time after a breakdown then you’re going to want to make sure your smartphone has enough charge to stay ticking over. A portable power pack is always worth keeping in the car, and there are a host of affordable options out there.
The colder months are likely to put additional strain on your car’s battery, so having a contingency plan for a flat is crucial in winter. A jump-starter pack can help with starting problems, and many are now small enough to fit in your glovebox and don’t require lengthy jump leads. MSC’s Overland waterproof jumper and power bank, and Clarke’s JSM300 micro jumpstart and power pack and JSM400 2100mAH are three that come highly-recommended from Auto Express.
Warm clothes and the right footwear
It’s not just your car’s wellbeing you need to be thinking about in winter, you and your passengers are just as (if not more) important. It’s a smart move to invest in a robust pair of boots for driving, so that your feet won’t be slipping on the pedals and you have enough grip to contend with ice and snow when you’re outside the vehicle.
Appropriate winter clothing and waterproofs are also essential. If you break down you’ll need to make sure your car is away from oncoming traffic so you limit the risk of a collision, and depending on where the breakdown occurs, it’s probably safer to wait outside your car. Make sure you have plenty of extra layers in the car so that everybody can stay warm.