Articles

Three ways to avoid a winter breakdown

Stay safe with our practical winter breakdown advice

2 minutes

Colder weather, poorer visibility and unpredictable road conditions, it's no wonder car breakdowns increase in the winter months.

Our quick guide covers how to avoid a winter breakdown and what to do if you find yourself stuck out in the snow.

  • Checking your car can help avoid an easily preventable breakdown
  • Bad weather can strike suddenly with very little notice
  • Follow our top car maintenance tips to stay safe in winter

If you're driving in wintry conditions, make sure you take the time to properly prepare for the road ahead

Car breakdowns are frustrating any time of the year, but no one wants the added misery of being stranded in the dark, the cold or the wet.

Now whilst there's comfort in knowing you can call your breakdown cover service to come and fix the problem, there are also some simple things you can do to help prevent winter breakdowns in the first place.


Three ways to avoid a winter breakdown

1. Keep on top of car maintenance

Flat battery, lack of screen wash and frozen water in your radiator are all common problems during the winter months.

Shorter days mean that commuting often takes place in the dark putting a strain on your battery if you only drive short distances. Try to keep your battery fully charged or replace it if it keeps letting you down.

Anti-freeze in your screen wash is essential in the winter. As is topping up the screen wash bottle every week. You'll get through more than normal as road conditions tend to be muddier.

The cold weather can reduce the air pressure in your tyres, so check them every couple of weeks. You'll also need to keep an eye on the tread, as it's even more important to have a good grip in wet or icy conditions.


2. Plan ahead

If you're driving any distance over the winter holidays, don't leave home without first checking your route, the weather and making sure you've got enough fuel to get there.

Many of the major routes get congested over the Christmas break, which can lead to stop/start driving and your engine overheating. Simply checking traffic conditions before you leave could prevent this problem and a potential winter breakdown.

Weather conditions are often more changeable during the winter, so keep an eye on the forecast. If there's been a prolonged spell of icy or snowy weather and your car has been stationary for a few days, give the car time to warm up properly before you drive off. And of course, never drive off without clearing the windscreens fully.

Take notice of any warnings about only travelling if it is essential.


3. Drive to the road and weather conditions

Try to keep to roads that are likely to be gritted in cold weather, as this reduces the chances of skidding on ice.

If you feel your car begin to skid – don't panic. Braking hard can make things worse and you may find you lose control of the car. Just turn into the skid, take your foot off the accelerator and try to slow the car by shifting down through the gears.

Braking distances increase hugely in wet and icy weather. Keep plenty of space between you and the car in front.

If you're finding it difficult to pull away on the ice or snow in first gear, change up to second. This may give you enough traction to get going.



What to do if you have a winter breakdown

Try to pull over somewhere safe. This can be in a layby or a service station. If that's not possible, get as far off the road as you can or onto the hard shoulder on a motorway.

Stay calm and phone your breakdown professional. They'll be able to give you advice over the phone about what to do in your situation. They'll also send out an engineer as soon as possible.

At LV= Britannia Rescue we get to the majority of our customers within 50 minutes and can often fix the problem there and then*.

You may have to get out of the car to wait for the breakdown service, so wrap up warm and wear a reflective vest or jacket, so you can be seen by other motorists.


Essential winter kit to keep in the car

  • Warm clothing
  • A bottle of screenwash
  • Wellies or boots
  • Hi-vis vest for everyone in the car
  • Shovel
  • Torch
  • Car phone charger
  • Breakdown provider contact details

* Average response time of 49.30 mins. 87.93% of customers were able to complete their journey, based on 130,242 jobs from Agent Performance Review Report. Dec '17 - May '18