How to Avoid a Car Break Down This Winter

Photo by Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash

Breaking down is every driver’s worst nightmare. In winter, that nightmare is not only a possibility, but it is also the worst time for a break down. Imagine you’re on your way to see your family for a Christmas party only to get stuck on a major highway in the blistering cold.

You can call your break down insurance company and they’ll come to save you, but all of this can be avoided with some pre-winter car care and planning. 

Plan, Plan, Plan

If you want to avoid a break down this winter, start planning ahead. There are so many things you can do now to prevent any winter misery. 

Depending on where you live, you will likely know what weather to expect. If you know you will encounter rain, snow, ice, hail, and freezing temperatures, you can plan for them.

Creating a winter checklist, including all the points below, will help you to ensure you’ve considered everything that’s important before you set out on your winter journeys. 

Take Your Car for a Pre-winter Service

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A full pre-winter service will ensure that everything in the car is working as it should be. You can pick up on any issues that need resolving and get them fixed before you hit the road. 

Your pre-winter service should focus on:

  • Oil levels.
  • Batteries.
  • Brakes.
  • Electrics. 
  • Tire tread depths.
  • Wipers.

All of the above are the things that are most likely to cause your car to break down or crash during winter. Above all else, a pre-winter service will give you and your family peace of mind while on the road. This leaves you free to concentrate on driving and singing along to the Christmas songs on the radio.

Keep Your Car Dry 

Ice can be a big problem for cars and can lead to numerous issues. Areas of the vehicle where antifreeze cannot reach are the most susceptible to damage. Therefore, it’s essential to keep your car clean throughout winter, but avoid spraying water near your brakes and engine.

Keeping your windows free from damage is also critical. Small chips can soon turn into large cracks once the water in the air expands as it turns into ice. This can lead to significant delays in your travel plans and cost you a lot of money to fix in the long run. If you notice a chip, get it fixed immediately.

Stock up on Winter Essentials

Buying several cans of de-icer and engine antifreeze will ensure you’re prepared for any issues with freezing this winter. These products will protect your car from severe damage that may otherwise lead to a break down during your journey. 

It’s important to make sure you buy the right antifreeze for your particular car. You can check online for the best products for your specific vehicle. If you’re not sure, you can speak to the manufacturer of the product you wish to buy or talk to your local garage for advice. 

Consider Your Tires

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Snow chains are useful, but they’re only required if you’re driving in very thick snow. If you’re going to be driving in thick snow, your standard tires will struggle and could cause you to break down or have an accident. 

If you’re not sure whether you need to invest in snow chains for your car, talk to your local garage, and they will be able to advise you.

You could also consider investing in winter tires or all-season tires. These tires are made specifically for dealing with icy conditions using a unique rubber that performs well on cold and wet surfaces.

Assess Your Electrics

If you take your car for a pre-winter service, they will check your electrics are working correctly. However, before you set out on your journey, you may want to recheck them.

Your lights, heaters, and wipers are all critical when driving in cold and icy conditions. Your hazard lights are especially important if you break down so that other motorists can see you on the side of the road. 

If you have a slightly older car, problems with the electric board can cause your car to shut down. Make sure all your electrics are working correctly before you set out on your journey this winter.

Build a Car Break Down Kit

Ok, so a car break down kit won’t help you avoid a break down, but it’s wise to have one in case of emergencies.  

To ensure you have everything you need in the case of a break down, you can create your very own car break down kit. This may include:

  • A spare tire (of course).
  • The number of your break down rescue service.
  • De-icer.
  • An ice scraper.
  • Engine antifreeze.
  • A flashlight and spare batteries.
  • Warm clothes and a blanket.
  • A high-visibility jacket.
  • Boots with good grip.
  • A first aid kit.
  • Jumpstart cables.
  • An empty fuel can.
  • Food and drink.
  • A shovel.
  • 2x reflective signs.
  • An in-car phone charger and separate power bank.

It may seem like a lot to include, but depending on where you break down and the conditions outside, it might just save your life. 

Final Tips

You should now be ready for your winter journeys. Before you get started, here are some last bits of advice:

  • Leave on a full tank of fuel.
  • Carry extra fuel with you.
  • Never ignore faults or warning lights on your dashboard.
  • Let your family or friends know what route you’re taking before you set off.