Winter driving can be pretty unpleasant for even the best drivers, so it’s no surprise that snow and ice cause a lot of concern for learner and newly-qualified drivers - especially if you took your driving lessons during the summer! However, just because it’s grim outdoors, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a drive, you just need to be prepared.
If you keep at least a few of the following winter driving essentials in your garage/boot, you’ll be able to drive no matter what winter throws at you.
1) De-icer and window scraper
Spending 15 minutes hunched over your windscreen, trying to scratch off a thick frost with your bank card is pretty much the worst way to start a drive. When the weather starts to turn, buy a can of de-icer and a scraper and tuck them away in your car. They don’t cost much money and you’ll be very grateful of them on the first really cold morning of the year.
2) Proper screen wash
In summer, filling up your screenwash bottle with tap water won’t cause you any problems beyond struggling to shift stubborn bug-stains. In winter, however, plain water can freeze, leaving you with no way to clean your windscreen at the time when the roads are at their filthiest. Avoid being caught out and always use a non-freezing screenwash in winter, it’s safer and it’ll clean your windscreen better, too.
Breaking down on a cold, dark winter’s night is bad enough, but breaking down on a cold, dark winter’s night without any kind of torch is infinitely worse. Things like your car’s bonnet catch and filler caps suddenly become incredibly difficult to find in the dark, no matter how well you know your car. Worse still, if your battery dies, you’ll be sat in a dark car on a dark night: not a particularly safe or easy-to-find place to be. Be safe and keep a torch in your glovebox, just in case.
4) Jump leads
Winter driving generally means that you’ll probably have your lights, heater, stereo and pretty much everything else electrical in your car turned on. Forget to turn off your lights when you park or accidentally leave the interior light on overnight and you’ll be left with a dead battery, which is never a fun situation to be in. However, if you keep a set of jump leads in your boot, all you need is a friendly motorist who doesn’t mind hooking your batteries together for a minute and – ZAP! – you’re back on the road!
5) Folding shovel
If there’s a real threat of snow, throw a little shovel in the boot of your car. You certainly won’t need to carry it around for most of the year, but it’s surprisingly easy for cars to get stuck in snow. Say you go to work and it’s snowing a little in the morning and it keeps coming down all day. By 5:00 there could easily be enough snow around your car to make leaving the car park an utter nightmare. It might not be useful for 364 days of the year, but every now and again, your little shovel will come in very, very handy. A winter driving essential.
6) Emergency phone charger
The little battery-powered emergency phone chargers that you see for sale at service stations and places like Halfords are very useful to have in the car at all times. You never know when you might genuinely need your mobile, don’t run the risk of it running out of juice at the wrong moment.
Extra winter driving tips:
- Keep an eye on the weather forecasts.
- Never drive in any conditions that make you uncomfortable.
- Keep spare clothes in your car.
- Check your tyres’ tread depth before winter and, if necessary, swap to winter tyres.
- Make sure that all your vehicle’s bulbs are working correctly.