We’ve already seen some snow and now we’re bracing ourselves for more chilly mornings, icy conditions, and slushy roads. Even if you feel you’re prepared, the UK winter brings with it some of the toughest driving conditions. No matter what make, model, or year your car is, these are the months when additional safety supplies can make all the difference.
The most important step in being prepared for potential obstacles and accidents on the road is updating your winter driving kit with emergency supplies. So, whether you’re taking an energetic drive, a short commute to work, or just running errands, having the right winter survival tools in your car is vital for travelling from A to B.
Alongside doing a full winter safety check, you’ll want to have a few other things on hand too. Here’s our comprehensive guide for winter car care with 15 essential tools and gear to keep in your car.
Ice scraper and snow brush
It goes without saying that having a high-quality ice scraper and snow brush can really help you out on winter mornings. Plus, winter weather isn’t always predictable. You may think it’s going to be light hail, but in fact, it turns into inches of snowfall. Having ice and snow on your car can obstruct your vision all the way up to flying you off the road. Do your best to clear your entire vehicle of snow and ice before driving away. This will help to prevent swerving and possible crashes.
Hippo Recommends: MATCC Ice Scraper Snow Brush
Make the shovel your best friend in winter. If you live in an area that is likely to be covered in snow or torrential rain, you will need a good shovel to clear your path or driveway of snow or mud. Most drivers either opt for a cheap mini shovel or a full-sized shovel. The first often breaks and the latter takes up the entire boot space. For better efficiency and quality use, choose a durable and foldable shovel that can be both neatly stored and help you get out of a difficult spot, seamlessly.
Hippo Recommends: Snow Joe Shovel
Cold-resistant gloves are great for working on your car in the winter. Or simply, for keeping your hands warm when you’re scraping off the ice or shovelling the driveway. Opt for a pair that are insulated with soft fleece for extra comfort. You may even find some that are water-repellent and even more durable, keeping your hands warm and dry during harsh conditions, and protecting against contact with dirt, abrasion injuries, and chapped skin.
Hippo Recommends: 9122 Tegera Pro Microthan Gloves
We don’t know anyone who enjoys being stranded, even more so during winter. Prepare for the unpredictable, as going from a running car with the heat on to breaking down and losing power, is an inconvenience that none of us want to face. However, if this does happen, and you need to wait it out in your car, a blanket will be your saviour. A nice, quality fleece or wool blanket will provide you with the warmth that you require and shouldn’t take up too much space in your boot.
Hippo Recommends: Kilburn & Scott Check Sherpa Throw
Emergency flares and/or reflectors
Blizzards, sleet, snow, and even a heavy downpour will reduce visibility during the day. So, imagine how much worse this will be at night? If you stop or breakdown at the roadside, you want other cars and people to be able to see you. Reflectors and emergency flares will help drivers, pedestrians, runners, cyclists, and others see you when there’s poor visibility. Furthermore, emergency vehicles will also be able to find you and see where you are stopped at the side of the road.
Hippo Recommends: LED Road Flares Safety Flashing Warning Light
Rock salt, sand, or kitty litter
If you know there’s a good chance you might get stuck in the snow, it would be wise to keep a bag of salt, sand, or clean kitty litter in the boot. All help to provide traction in tough situations. In addition, for those with a rear wheel drive, storing these materials in the boot space over the wheels will also help to increase traction. An alternative option is traction mats. Their plastic troughs will give traction to your wheels when stuck!
Hippo Recommends: Hadley Rock Salt
First aid kit
One of the smartest things you can do in winter is keep a first aid kit in the car. Packed with crucial tools if someone gets injured, a first aid kit could be a lifesaver during winter if emergency vehicle response time is slow. One of the best on the market is Swiss Safe’s Premium 200-piece first aid kit which is also easy to store and great for long drives, road trips, and outdoor winter activities.
Hippo Recommends: Swiss Safe Premium First Aid Kit
A torch (or flashlight) is always a good idea. With fewer daylight hours in the winter, this is one of the handiest tools you can keep in the car. Not only is it useful if you stumble upon pitch dark roads or stops along your journey, but it’s also the best – and brightest – option for when you might need to change a tyre or jump start the car after dark. Go for something that shines bright, is durable, waterproof, and good for all weather conditions
Hippo Recommends: LE Rechargeable CREE LED Torch
If you know the weather is bound to take a turn for the worse, it may be worth investing in snow chains or socks for your tyres. These will help to keep you moving in icy or snowy conditions, giving the car a stronger grip on snow and ice until you get to your destination or clearer roads. Follow the instructions and ensure that you know how to put them on and remove them properly.
Hippo Recommends: Snow Chain (use this finder to get an expert match for your tyres).
Jumper cables and battery charger
Why is it that you never get a dead battery on a bright, sunny summer’s day? It’s always in the dead of winter! It’s also one of the most common car issues so jumper cables, preferably with a battery charger, is a no-brainer. It might be that you accidentally leave your headlights or interior lights on, or it could even be due to extreme cold temperatures, but a good battery jump pack and/or cables will bring your car back to life.
Hippo Recommends: Top Tech 3 in1 12Ah Booster Jump Pack with Tyre inflator
Tyre air pressure gauge
Keeping your tyres properly inflated in winter is a must if you want to avoid easy punctures. Cold weather can cause a loss of pressure and that applies to both new and used tyres. On top of that, a properly inflated tyre will also get you better fuel mileage, provide stronger traction, and maintain safe driving. The P.I. Auto Store Air Compressor plugs directly into your car’s power outlet and features a gauge to let you know you’ve reached the correct PSI.
Hippo Recommends: PI Auto Store Dual Power Air Compressor
Empty fuel can
If you’re someone who plans to take long trips or drives in more secluded areas in winter, the chances are that you may not come across a petrol station frequently. For these specific journeys, a small three-gallon tank will be a good size to keep in case you run into any trouble off the beaten track. It holds enough fuel to get you to a petrol station. However, you don’t, under any circumstances, want to make a habit of storing fuel in your car as it can become a fireball in an accident.
Hippo Recommends: Vehpro 3 Gallon Fuel Tank
Water and non-perishable snacks
Needless to say, if you breakdown or get stuck in wintery weather conditions, you’re going to need energy and sustenance to keep you going until help arrives. Probably the most forgotten item for a good winter driving kit list, food and water should be high priorities. Keeping a snack box stocked with your favourite non-perishable food is always a good idea. We’re talking dried fruit and nut mix, breakfast/granola bars, crackers, peanut butter, crisps, canned foods, and, of course, lots of H2O to stay dehydrated.
Hippo Recommends: Ration-X Mini Emergency Ration Pack
Small car tool kit
You don’t have to be a mechanic to use a basic tool kit. Having a basic tool kit which includes a wrench and pliers can save the day when simple fixes need to be done. The Apollo 56-Piece kit includes everything you need, including Allen keys, zip ties, drive sockets and more.
Hippo Recommends: Apollo 56-piece SAE Auto Tool Set
Even though we all know what winter can be like, the day-to-day remains unpredictable. Weather is changeable, and fast. It can go from light showers to heavy sleet and snow rapidly in a matter of hours. Staying well-informed on weather warnings and traffic news is vital, so having a working radio to access local, regional, and national updates is essential. If you find yourself driving a vehicle with a broken radio, purchase a good portable option to keep you aware of driving conditions.
Hippo Recommends: Pure Highway 200 In-Car DAB+/DAB Digital Radio
Other items you may consider keeping in your vehicle as part of your winter driving kit list include:
- Traction Mats
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- Fix-a-Flat aka Tyre Inflator
- Data and Phone charger
- Hand Warmers
- Sturdy Boots
- Hi-vis Winter Clothing