Winter car essentials checklist

Your in-car survival kit for winters on the road

When winter weather blows in, you needn't give driving the cold shoulder. But you might be wondering what to keep in your car in case of a winter breakdown.

Read our checklist to see how to build your own winter survival kit for your car. Or you can buy our ready-made winter car kit with all the accessories you need online.

man with windscreen deicer and ice scraper

Winter car essentials

Here's a checklist of the items you should always keep in your car over winter:

1. Ice scraper and de-icer

You never know when you'll wake up to an iced over windscreen or come back to a frozen car after a day out. 

Make sure you always carry an ice-scraper and de-icer so you can effectively defrost your windscreen. If you don't remove snow and ice properly, you could get 3 points on your licence and a £100 fine.

Discover why your car heater's not working and what you should do about it. 

2. Torch and spare batteries

Short days and long nights in winter mean you could be getting in and out of your car in the dark. Keep a torch handy to avoid any trips.

If you break down, you'll need to find a safe place to wait for roadside assistance. A torch will help light your way on a dark verge.

3. A fully charged mobile phone

If you're delayed because of bad weather (or a weather related incident), it's a good idea to let your loved ones know. It'll save them worrying and stop any distracting texts and phone calls coming in while you're behind the wheel.

Just remember not to use a handheld phone while driving. Pull into a safe rest stop to make a call or ask a passenger to do it for you.

If you install the AA app before you set off, you'll be able to easily plan a new route if there are diversions or call out a mechanic if you break down.

4. An in-car phone charger or power pack

This'll help with number 3 on the list, because you don't want a dead phone battery in an emergency.

5. Sat-nav or a printed route for an unfamiliar journey

The last thing you want is to get lost in the dark on unfamiliar roads. Fiddling with a sat nav could distract you from driving, so planning ahead is the best option.

6. A road atlas

Just in case there are diversions and you don't have any GPS signal, a road atlas will help you plan a new route.

7. Sunglasses

It might seem strange to put sunglasses on a winter checklist. But actually, the low sun in winter can dazzle drivers and cause glare. Keep your sunnies in the car to make sure your vision isn't affected.

8. First aid kit

It's always a good idea to keep a first aid kit in your car. The British Standards Institution has guidelines on what to include like sterile wipes, plasters, dressings and scissors to treat minor wounds. A good kit should have all these.

9. Empty fuel can

You'd be surprised how many breakdowns are caused by running out of fuel. If you keep an empty fuel can in the car, you'll be able to nip to a filling station for a top up if you do run out.

You can always call us and we'll top you up with enough fuel to get you going again.

Follow these tips to drive safely in snow and ice
Find out more
car broken down in winter with warning triangle

Winter car emergency kit list

If there's severe weather warnings but you can't avoid driving, there are a few extra things to keep in your car to make sure you stay safe. After all, winter's the time of year when you're most likely to get stuck in delays or break down in bad weather.

Find out more about what to do if you break down. Here's what to keep in your car if there's snow or severe weather:

1. Warm clothes and waterproofs

If you break down, you'll need to get out of the car to stay safe. That means taking extra clothes to wrap up warm against the cold.

2. Sturdy footwear

Whether it's a country lane or a motorway verge, conditions outside the car could be slippery. Shoes with good grip will help you to get to a place of safety away from the car if you break down. 

3. A flask of hot drink

It'll help keep you warm while you wait for a breakdown mechanic.

4. Snacks

If you're delayed in traffic because of snow, rain or a bad-weather collision, you could be in for a long wait. Snacks will keep your energy and concentration levels up - especially when it's cold and dark.

The same goes for if you have a break down.

5. Hi-vis jacket

There are fewer daylight hours in winter. Darkness together with a higher chance of rain, snow, sleet and fog means visibility could be poor. A hi-vis fluorescent jacket will make you more visible if you're standing outside your car.

6. Warning triangles

As well as a hi-vis jacket, reflective warning triangles will make you more visible if you break down. They'll warn other drivers that there's a broken down vehicle up ahead, giving them a chance to slow down before they reach you.

Remember, don’t put a warning triangle on the hard shoulder if you’re on a motorway – it’s not safe. If you’re on a road and it’s safe, you can put a warning triangle at least 45m (50 yards) behind your vehicle and one in front of your vehicle.

7. Jump leads

A flat battery is more likely in winter as cold weather affects batteries. Plus, your car might sit for longer than usual without being driven if you're busy at home with festive activities. 

Often, a flat battery can get going again with a jump start from a fellow driver. That's where jump leads come in handy. Remember, you can always call us out to restart or replace your battery

8. Shovel

If there's deep snow, you may need to dig your wheels out, so a shovel could come in handy.

But when the weather's really bad, it's important to ask yourself: do I need to leave the house? If conditions outside might be dangerous, you should avoid driving if you can.

Find out more

Stocking up on essentials

You can buy lots of these winter essentials from our online shop. Buy them in advance and keep them in your car, so if the weather does turn for the worse, you'll be ready.

Plus we’ve got plenty of winter driving advice to help you stay safe when there's snow and ice.

Published: 15 September 2016 | Updated: 9 December 2019 | Author: The AA

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