From windscreens to tyres, wipers, batteries and bulbs make sure your car is ready for a cold spell

Published by Rachel Lacey on 11 January 2019.
Last updated on 11 January 2019

As cold weather beds in motorists are being urged to check their windscreens for signs of damage.

Windscreens are more likely to crack during periods of extreme cold – particularly if they are already chipped.

Although many motorists would expect this type of damage to be covered by their motor insurance, this may not always be the case, with different policies providing different levels of cover.

Recent analysis by Defaqto found that while the vast majority of comprehensive policies provided cover as standard, windscreen damage could still hit motorists in the pocket with excess payments starting at £50 for repairs, rising to £150 for full replacement.

Where windscreens need replacing it is also important to contact your insurance company for its approved windscreen provider. Motorists who use firms that are not approved by their insurance company could see excesses double to £300.

It’s even more important to take of your windscreen if you only have third party fire and theft cover, with 83% of these policies not providing any windscreen cover.

Mike Powell, insight consultant at Defaqto says: “A small chip can turn into a nasty crack or even break your windscreen beyond repair if left. If you get a chip, you need to act fast to prevent the damage getting worse.

"Most insurers are happy to help you get your windscreen repaired to avoid the greater cost of having to replace it down the line. Check your policy to see what excess you may be liable for as this can be a nasty shock in some cases.

"Whatever happens, never pour boiling water on an icy windscreen as this can shatter it.”

Instead Defaqto advises motorists to use de-icer and a scraper. Warm water may be used to speed up the process but if it is too hot it could crack.

De-icing aside Defaqto also has other tips for extending the life of your windscreen:

  • Check regularly for small chips or cracks
  • If you spot a chip or crack cover it with clear tape to prevent any dirt or debris getting in until you can arrange repair. Never use glue
  • Chips weaken your windscreen and make it vulnerable to larger cracks so get them fixed as soon as possible to avoid having to replace it
  • Contact your insurance company for details of its approved repairers – you should be able to arrange the work to be done in a day or two
  • Chips are usually caused by stones and debris kicked up by the car ahead so keep your distance and slow down

However, it’s not just windscreen chips that can lead to winter motoring disasters. You are more likely to slip on wet or icy roads if your tyres are worn or not at the correct pressure.

To ensure a clear view of the road in poor conditions it is also vital to check that your wiper blades are in good condition and that your screen wash is topped up.

According to Halfords, car battery failure is the cause of 20% of all breakdowns. As cold mornings place an additional strain on batteries it’s worth checking yours is in good working order.

To help you ensure your car is prepared for the winter you can take advantage of free winter health checks. For example, Halfords offers a free winter check taking in lights, wiper blades, oil, battery and screen wash top up, at branches across the UK.

Evans Halshaw dealerships and Kwik Fit centres also offer a similar service which also include tyre inspection, coolant and anti-freeze checks.

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Free safety checks are great

Free safety checks are great but always get a second opinion if they try to get you to buy new battery or such expensive items especially if you use Halfords. I took my car to Halfords store for battery check and told dead, I told the lad it may give a more reliable result if he connected the the test leads correct way round, he then said dead cell can replace for £99.99, I tried a garage in town and got same result only to find if is owned by Halfords. I went to Bush Tyres and was told battery fine why do you want it changing, he said car not used enough as often stood for 2 weeks so groans in winter. It lasted another 3 years and still working when I sold it, that was 11 years ago. When my car struggles to start I find it cheaper to just buy new top quality heavy duty battery on eBay at a bargain price.