Around this time of year I always think about winter and what to carry in my car to make life simpler and safer. Compiling a winter kit of equipment to carry in the cold months is easy. It might help you out when temperatures plunge and it could be a life saver if you get stuck in snowy conditions.
Make de-icing a bit nicer
On cold mornings your car is likely to be covered in ice. The cheapest and easiest way to clear this is with a simple ice scraper. But to make it a bit easier and more comfortable, I always keep an old glove with it. It means I can de-ice my car without getting frost-bitten fingers. And if you’re after something a little more bespoke you can now buy mittens with a built-in ice scraper.
Need a scraper and de-icer? The Green Flag Shop has you covered.
Get a high-vis vest
The side of the road is a dangerous place. We know because that’s where our patrols work. It’s also why virtually every element of their clothing is reflective.
You might think your size alone makes you visible standing next to your car. But in low light levels, people just disappear, particularly if they’re wearing dark clothes. A high-vis vest is a simple and cheap way of making sure other drivers can see you if you’re stranded at the roadside.
And talking of clothes…
If you break down at the side of the road, you’re safest waiting to be rescued away from your car. I always carry a spare cagoul in the car, just in case. They fold up small to take up virtually no space. They’re waterproof for if it’s raining and they’re windproof if it’s blustery. Even if you haven’t got a proper coat, a cagoul is better than nothing.
It serves a secondary purpose too. I can fold it out and kneel on it if I need to change a wheel. That means the waterproof gets dirty rather than my trousers!
Remember if you’re driving in snow
There’s more chance you’re going to be stopped by the side of the road when it’s snowing than in pretty much any other type of weather. That’s why if it’s snowing, I always make sure I’ve got a phone charger with me and I carry a blanket too. Also, if I’m not wearing sturdy shoes, I make sure I’ve got some in the car. Just in case!
Last but definitely not least…
The part of your car that’s most vulnerable during extremely cold weather is the battery. I always carry a set of jump leads. That way I know that if the battery does give out, another driver will be able to get my car going again.
Hopefully I’ll never need them and that’s because I keep an eye on the age of my battery. I always hold onto receipts from any work I’ve had done on my car. This enables me to see when I last changed my battery.
Car batteries last anywhere between three and five years. But if you don’t do many miles, or the miles you do cover are low speed and stop-start, your battery may age prematurely. Dud batteries are one of the most frequent things our patrols rescue drivers from. I’d recommend you change yours before it fails rather than waiting for the inevitable to happen!
Need to stock up on the winter car essentials? Check out the Green Flag Shop.
By John Price, a member of Green Flag’s automotive technical support team
15 comments on “Expert advice: cold-cheating winter kit to carry in your car”
Very good advice
useful info. thank you
Is it better to switch off the “iStop” in heavy town, stop/start traffic, to save the battery?
I’d also suggest a snow shovel, as a standard item. About £15 online. Rarely used but a godsend when it is needed!
I also keep some cereal bars and a bottle of water in the car. Pre-Green Flag days, I was stranded for three hours and the food and water were very welcome.
Thank you John for the good advice. I will make sure I purchase the items you recommend, you never know when you may need them.
All good advice John; I keep some bits in the car already but I think a bigger boot on my F-Focus would improve that situation. I use a large shoe box in the boot for some bits but take your points regarding an old set of clothes.
My worst experience was last year Wed-11-pm driving home in torrential rain I got stuck in an underpass full of surface water, got out of car up to my ####,s in water waded out and helped to stop other drivers to avoid my fate called police & insurance (water was over seats in car) thought my car’s had-it. Thanks for 19 years faithful service pal sorry to see you go like this. Went home had shower and hot drink, got call from police please come back we need to move car – water is receding – finally got lift home from police at 4:30 next morning and finally replaced car 5 weeks later – sadly not an estate. So adding some simple waterproofs might be a long shot – but most people reckon “that won’t happen to me” Ha Ha – it did to me, will never ever forget that night.
Out of all the items you have made no mention of triangle or torch.
High Vis vest should be kept in the car to be able to put on before getting out It’s legal required abroad
Very professional advise that unfortunately will not get to the main stream media until there is deep snow all around.
what about a folding shovel??
Great advice and worth taking heed.
Thanks, very sensible.
Some advice on the connection of jump leads might be needed as a straight battery to battery connection could do a lot of expensive electronic equipment damage and it also wouldn’t be advisable to try and jump start a lithium ion battery using a lead acid.
I would suggest a good led torch, they are very cheap and are available in many different styles.