According to the Met Office, the winter of 2013 was warmer than average, but storms, flooding and gales all presented their own problems for motorists. So what can we expect from winter 2014? Like it or not, it's round the corner and whether we get a wet winter like last year, or a return to the freezing temperatures of 2011 and 2012, it's best to be well-equipped when you head out on the road.
Help reduce the risk of a break down and make sure you're prepared for the worst with our checklist of essential car kit.
Before you drive off
Taking the time to make a few quick checks before you set off on a journey will help ensure both you and your car are ready for whatever the road throws your way.
- Get your car serviced: getting an expert to give your car a thorough check with give you peace of mind.
- Check your battery: using headlights and the heater in the winter can drain your battery so you should check it regularly.
- Check the engine coolant levels: you should actually do this weekly to help you spot any leaks early and prevent your car overheating.
- Inspect your tyres: You should check that your tyres are properly inflated (this will be specified in your vehicle owner’s manual) and that there is sufficient tread with no uneven wear. If you live in an area where you know you'll need snow tyres, get them fitted before the snow hits.
- Check your windscreen washer fluid: in the winter make sure the liquid is made up of 50% windscreen washer fluid to prevent it freezing.
- Check windscreen wipers: look out for wear and tear and replace regularly.
- Check the spare tyre: if you know that your spare tyre is getting old, consider getting a replacement as rubber can degrade over time.
- Practice cold weather driving: an empty car park is a great place to practice in safety.
- Plan your route: if it’s been snowing, try and plan your travel so you can stick to main roads that you know will have been gritted and cleared.
What to keep in the car
If you drive regularly then carrying a few useful items can help you be ready for anything, whatever time of year it is.
- Small first aid kit
- Torch and spare batteries
- Reflective warning triangle
- Road atlas and/or Sat Nav
- Fully charged mobile phone and in-car charger
- Jump start cables
- Sunglasses – these will help with glare from the sun or the snow
- Any medication you might need if you get stuck somewhere
- Breakdown membership card/insurance phone number
As well as the items you should have in your car year-round, it's a good idea to pack a few extras before the cold weather hits. Create your car's winter survival kit with our checklist.
- Blanket, rug or sleeping bag
- Food and a warm drink in a thermos
- Salt, sand or cat litter – to help clear snow
- Ice scraper and de-icer
- Tow rope
- Snacks and bottled water
- Extra windscreen fluid
- A piece of cardboard or carpet to help with traction under the wheels
- Snow chains
Don’t forget your car insurance
From Breakdown Cover to Windscreen repairs, John Lewis Car Insurance can cover you for a range of problems you could face this winter.And with our Comprehensive Cover, a free Courtesy Car for the duration of repairs means that if you have an accident you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re protected should the worst happen.