Car Care

9 winter car hacks to get you safely through the chilliest season of all.

Ciara Knight's profile picture
Ciara Knight

While the weather outside is frightful, this list of car hacks is nothing short of delightful (if we do say so ourselves).

We’ve pulled together an essential collection of tricks that will keep your car running smoothly throughout winter. Although we can’t control the weather, we can control our preparedness. That means blankets, phone chargers, cat litter and a whiteboard eraser (reasons will become apparent further down the list).

Brag to friends and family about how your car is the only one on the street to escape the reaches of Jack Frost overnight, then admit that you learned of the car hack on a friendly car insurance provider’s website.

1. Keep an emergency kit in the boot of the car.

emergency-car-kit-765x512-1

Ideally, you’ll never need to touch this kit, but it’ll bring a nice sense of calm to you knowing that it’s nestled safely in the boot, just in case. Given that winter can bring unexpected weather in tow, you can’t exactly prepare for the unknown, but you can give yourself a head start by keeping a few essentials on board. Things like a warm blanket, energy bars, a torch, first aid kit, hand warmers and a phone charger could really come in handy if you experience an ill-timed breakdown. Just be sure someone doesn’t tuck into the energy bars after a particularly draining shopping trip without replacing them.

2. Use a whiteboard eraser to defog your windows.

Whiteboard eraser

Rather than using your sleeve or a mysterious tissue that’s appeared on the back seat of the car, did you know that a whiteboard eraser is just as effective at clearing the condensation off your car windows? The rumours are true. If you’ve got a spare whiteboard (or even chalkboard) eraser floating around the house, stick it in the glove box for ease of use the next time your windows need defogging. Critics are saying it works better than a cloth, but we’ll let you figure that one out for yourself.

3. Keep a bag of cat litter in the boot for traction in the snow.

Cat litter scoop

It may lead to some tense conversations if you haven’t actually got a cat, but once you inform people that your boot full of cat litter is actually for driving purposes, all will become clear. Scattering some cat litter can give your tyres the traction they need to get out of ice or snow on the ground. The liquid-absorbing nature of the litter means it’ll expand and give more friction for your tyres to get a better grip. Plus, it’ll come in handy if you ever decide to get a cat.

4. Give your headlights a clean with toothpaste for better visibility.

Car headlight

Driving in the snow limits your visibility, so you want your windscreen wipers and headlights to be working in perfect harmony throughout winter. Enter: Toothpaste, but not for your teeth. If you apply some toothpaste to your car’s headlights, let it sit for a while to work its magic, then rinse it clean using warm water, it’ll give them a deeper clean than the usual carwash’s efforts. Use the leftovers to brush the teeth of the cat you’ll inevitably acquire now that you’ve got cat litter in the boot.

5. Park your car facing east so the sun can melt any snow or ice.

Car parked sunrise

File this hack under ‘Genius Driver Behaviour’ and don’t tell anyone about it because it’s a powerful piece of information to have at your disposal. The sun rises in the east, so if you park your car facing this way, it’ll get the first blast of morning sun which will do all the snow and ice melting work long before you’ve even gotten out of bed. Not sure which way is east? Just use the compass app on your phone, genius. You’re welcome.

6. Use hand sanitiser on frozen key locks.

Hand sanitiser dashboard

Now that it’s a mainstay in everyone’s list of items they can’t leave the house without, your little bottle of hand sanitiser can now have a second use. If your car door’s keyhole is frozen solid, first you must lament that you haven’t gotten central locking, then you must take action. Squirting a little hand sanitiser into the lock and on the key will help to melt the ice, and you’ll be on the road in no time. Hand sanitiser saves the day once again!

7. Check your tyres using a 20p coin.

Car tyres

Tyres need to be in good health to get you safely through the winter months, so always be sure that they’re inflated to the correct pressure level and driving as smoothly as you’d expect. You can use a 20p coin to check your tyre tread depth by placing it into one of the tyre’s grooves. If the outer band on the coin is hidden, you’re above the legal limit. If you can see the outer band, your tyres may not be within the legal tread depth, and you should get them checked as soon as possible.

8. Use a leaf blower to clear snow off your car.

Snowy car headlight

Resurrect the leaf blower that you packed into the shed as soon as autumn ended because it’s got another shot at life. If you wake to find your car buried under a falling of snow, rather than spending time carefully sweeping it off and being sure not to chip the paintwork, get the leaf blower into action. A quick blast of the leaf blower will clear that snow clean off, plus you’ll look enviably cool while doing it. Get the pathway up to the house cleared too while you’re at it. The postman will thank you.

9. Clear all water bottles out of your car.

Back seat of car

The average car is said to have over 300 rogue water bottles stowed away, lurking inside at any one time. While that figure has been grossly exaggerated, it’s likely that your car may have one or two inside. Before the temperature dips into lower minus figures, do a quick sweep of the car for any bottles and get rid of them. They’re a nuisance, as they’ll create frost on the inside of your car windows because of some sort of science reason that nobody understands. Just trust us. And be sure to recycle the bottles too!

Not driving much this winter? Get a quote for pay-by-mile car insurance here.