Driving safely in bad weather means carrying the right kit in your car, just in case. I can speak from experience. Last winter my car became stranded on a snowy hill near home, but fortunately it wasn’t long before a passing local farmer offered me a tow using his tractor. Trouble was, neither of us had the good sense to carry a tow rope.
Buying what you need doesn’t have to cost the earth. But first, here’s what your winter kit should comprise, at the very least:
- Hi-visibility vest
- Folding shovel
- LED torch
- Tow rope
When you get round to buying winter kit, the golden rule is to avoid buying it from anywhere that specialises in motoring. Go to Amazon and you’ll find everything you need for a lot less money than if you buy it in a motoring retail store.
Today you can get a pack of two foil blankets for £1.35; a hi-visibility vest for £1.92; a folding shovel for £4.07; tow rope for £6.91 and a waterproof torch for £2.72. The total is £16.97. Buy all those products, minus the tow rope, in a pre-packaged winter car kit from a motor retailer and could cost you as much as £24.99.
Avoiding outlets that supply ‘motoring’ products is the key to saving a few quid. Most will sell hi-vis jackets for around £4.99. Go to a store that supplies the construction industry and you’ll get one for less than half that. It’s the same with foil blankets. Stores selling them for campers and runners are much cheaper than motoring outlets.
Assembling your own winter kit means you can be sure of the quality of the individual pieces. And if you do it via an online store such as Amazon, you can do it all in one place in five minutes. But if this isn’t for you, £23.14 buys you a seven-piece Winter Emergency Kit from tool company Am-Tech. This contains all the above articles (except the hi-vis jacket) plus battery jump leads, an emergency hammer and windscreen protector.
Some pre-assembled kits – such as those from carmats4u.com – come with other items including gloves, a first aid kit and a warning triangle. One of the benefits of putting your own kit together is that you can buy exactly what you need – many modern cars will come with a warning triangle in the boot.
It’s important to check that the tow rope is rated sufficiently to cope with the weight of your car. If in doubt, check your car’s handbook, but broadly, two tonnes will be enough for smaller family cars and superminis; for large family cars and SUVs you should go for ropes suited to up to four-tonnes. Also make sure that the folding shovel is sturdy and won’t snap with its first load of snow.
Do you have a suggestions about other items that should be in a car breakdown kit? Or any way to get the cost of a kit down even further? We’d love to hear from you.