Essential Winter Car Tools

Essential Winter Car Tools

It can be argued that the Winter in this country is never really that bad until, of course, it is. Sometimes we witness news bulletins that show stranded motorists trapped in their cars by sudden heavy snow. That’s why, despite really bad conditions striking only once in a while, it is still advisable to carry a selection of useful items when caught out. Here are some ideas:

The Spare Wheel & Brace

It is no good carrying a spare wheel around if the tyre on it is flat, damaged or illegal. Once in a while (and certainly for the annual MOT test), check the spare tyre and steel or alloy wheel for condition. If concerned about the state of the spare, which will be in or under the boot, ask you local car servicing garage to inspect it.

Further, it is no good having a spare tyre if there is no jack with it. Check that the accompanying jack is in good working order and, crucially, that you know how to use it! Jacks supplied with the car always come with a wheel brace to remove wheel nuts. Often these are very tight and usually the supplied brace is about as much use as a piece of bent wire, unless that is the driver is very strong or adept at the job. Consider buying a spider brace to keep in the boot. They are a little inconvenient to store but they do allow the unfortunate motorist plenty of extra torque to loosen a wheel nut.

Winter Tyres

Winter tyres do as the name suggests. They are a softer compound and thus aid grip, biting into snow-covered surfaces. Much has been written about them but it is important to understand that they are not just for snow and ice; they are great on rain-washed surfaces as well. They really come into their own when the temperature drops below around 7°C.

The Ice Scraper

We have all been there: Late for work, in the dark and finding that Mother Nature has added a glacier to the windscreen. What’s needed is a proper ice scraper. Your local garage or motor factor will stock them but, importantly, get a good one.

Scratching away at the ice with the edge of an ancient Blockbuster Video card found in the glove box isn’t the answer. Get one with both a hard edge scraper and a rubber wipe too; better still invest in one with a telescopic handle and brush that can also be used to wipe off snow. That way all the windows and any loose snow can be cleared (not just a little circle in front of the driver). These days letting the car idle to ‘warm up’ and melt the ice is frowned upon. Stationary emissions you see; also it’s not very good for modern cars.

Reflective Triangles

Carry two: Cars stuck in inconvenient places are a hazard to other road users and indeed to the occupants. Setting out a reflective triangle some distance away and each way warns other motorists that there’s a problem ahead, especially at night when they reflect headlights.

Jump Leads & Tow Rope

Car batteries do not like cold weather and exhausted units are always quickly found out when the mercury drops. Obviously the local car servicing garage can fit a new one (always worthwhile if in doubt) but when the worse happens there might be a friendly passing motorist who can supply some charge via battery jump leads to get the car going.

Similarly, a tow rope can help if the car leaves the road or gets stuck in snow. Again, if a tow rope is on board then a passing tractor or 4×4 might help pull the car out of a sticky situation. Be seen by others with a high-visa tabard or jacket. They can be tucked away in a door pocket when not in use.

Extra Items

Let’s not get carried away because it would be all too easy to fill the boot with safety equipment but, and this applies more to high mileage drivers whose job depends on car use, think about a small snow shovel to clear snow around the wheels.

A torch, with working batteries, is vital for night-time driving problems as are warm clothing (even a silver space blanket) and a flask containing a hot beverage. It’s not just the car that needs to stay warm.

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