How to prepare your car for winter

Women and child sat in the boot of car with boot open.  They are parked up at the roadside in the snow.

Often the winter weather comes round a lot faster than people realise and their vehicle is not ready, leaving them stranded by the roadside when they are heading to work, or visiting family over the festive period.   

There are several faults that can occur due to icy weather. One of the most common car faults we see in the winter is a flat car battery and can often be because it is due to be replaced.

Do you know how often you should replace your car battery? Many do not know that batteries can be worn down in as little as 3 years. If your battery is over 3 years old we advise checking it before the winter to avoid problems to due the cold. Here is our essential checklist. All you need to do is set aside 30 minutes to get your vehicle winter ready.

How to I check my car battery?

The main reason for batteries failing over the winter months is that colder weather slows down the chemical process within the battery, therefore reducing its ability to hold charge.

As mentioned earlier, for old batteries this can be a problem. To check how old your battery is, all you need to do is locate the battery date code which will only take a few minutes. Here is a video explaining how to find out.

If you have a fairly new battery and run your car regularly then you shouldn't need to worry about keeping it charged, however, if you have an older battery there are a few things you can do to avoid it going flat.

Use a trickle charger: As the name suggests, these useful devices slowly charge the battery, therefore keeping it at maximum capacity. We recommend these for weekend cars being stored over winter.

Keep the car covered: If you have the luxury of a garage, then it's worth utilising that space and keeping the car out of the direct cold.

Vital checks: Little things, like ensuring all of the lights are off before exiting the car, will help reduce the chance of a flat battery.

How do I prepare my tyres for the winter?


Winter driving can become hazardous very quickly. You should have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread depth by law, any less will mean that there is not enough grip which can become extremely dangerous in the snow and ice.  Some people choose to put their winter tyres on but you may not need to. There are checks you can do to ensure your tyres are road safe.

A quick and effortless way to check the tread depth of your tyres is by using a 20p coin. Just take a 20p coin and insert it into the tread grooves on the tyre. If you can't see the outer band on the coin, your tyres are above the legal limit. However, if you can see the band and that section of the coin is still visible, your tyres could be unsafe and require professional inspection by a mechanic.

As road accidents in the winter are quite common due to road conditions, it is wise to ensure you and your vehicle are protected. In the unfortunate event, you were to be in an accident, it is important that you have roadside assistance as part of your car warranty.

How do I check my windscreen wash for winter?

Person scraping icy windscreen in winter with hand held scraper.

Quite often the roads are gritted in winter resulting in your car windscreen being covered in a layer of grit. If the temperature drops and your windscreen wash freezes, you may not be able to see whilst driving. For this reason, your windscreen washer is topped up with a fluid that will not freeze such as windscreen wash with anti-freeze.

Your washer fluid should be checked and topped up by your garage during your annual service, however, it is advised to check the levels before winter. All you need to do is pop up your bonnet and locate the tube with the windscreen wash icon on.

In the same instance, it would be worthwhile checking your wiper blades. If the rubber on the blades is cracked, they leave a smear on the windscreen, or they squeak a lot when they move, it is probably time to replace them.

To ensure your local garage is servicing your car the correct way, we have created the ultimate car servicing guide.

What should I have in an emergency breakdown kit?

Person shovelling now in winter with a yellow shovel.

There are certain items that you can keep in the car to make life a little easier if you get stuck. We recommend your winter driving emergency kit includes at least the following:

  • Warm clothing or a blanket
  • De-icer
  • Ice scraper
  • Warning triangle
  • Hi-vis jacket
  • First aid kit
  • Torch
  • Jump leads
  • Shovel
  • Emergency food (like high-energy cereal bars)
  • Phone charger or charge pack
  • A map or updated sat nav/latest version of Google maps

Make sure your roadside assistance 24-hour helpline is saved in your phone so it is to hand. For Warrantywise customers, that number is 0844 693 1910 and they are available 24/7.

Warranty you can rely on

After 21 years in the warranty industry, there’s nothing we don’t know about vehicle warranty. Your level of cover can be tailored to meet your exact requirements, so you can relax this winter knowing that your car is protected.

Our warranty includes roadside assistance as standard, as well as repairs, and car hire, but one of our friendly team can advise on the best plan for you. Call today on 0800 001 4990 and we’ll have you covered in a matter of minutes, alternatively you can request a quote.


Please note, Warrantywise plans do not cover batteries and tyres. The above is purely for information purposes.