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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… For many, that means packing up the car and getting on the road to visit friends and family.

This year the current climate has led to a lot of us looking for ways to save on costs where we can. However, if breakdown cover is one of the costs you are considering cutting, is it really worth running the risk, especially so near to those all-important festive road trips?

Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough not to have suffered a breakdown and are looking to take the gamble, but you just know it’s going to be Murphy’s Law that the time you don’t have breakdown cover in place, the worst will happen.

Breakdown cover doesn’t have to cost you a fortune though and a little investment can offer a huge peace of mind.

Affordable breakdown cover from a Which? recommended provider?

Indeed, depending on the age of your vehicle and the level of cover you require, breakdown policies from Which? Recommended Start Rescue, are available from as little as £19.75 per year.

If you break down without cover and you will be facing a one-off call out charge that is likely to be in excess of £100 minimum. This is without factoring in whether you will require a long distance recovery, overnight accommodation or assistance with your onward journey. Before you know it, the costs can soon mount up.

There is of course also the consideration of how easy it is going to be for you to independently source a competent recovery operative during this busy festive period.

The importance of breakdown cover for winter travel

Start Rescue sees a spike in breakdowns each winter when inclement weather such as ice, frost and snow causes everything from battery faults to tyre problems.

Having breakdown cover ensures you are always covered for the unexpected when on the road.

Pre-Christmas travel checklist

Breakdown cover offers the reassurance that someone will be on hand to help should you need it. However, it’s best to take steps to try and avoid being faced with any issues on your drive this Christmas, before you set off.

Start Rescue has put together a list of essential checks to carry out before you leave, giving you the best chance of having a trouble-free festive road trip. After all, we all want your Christmas travel to go safely and smoothly, so you don’t miss out on the chance to enjoy Christmas to the fullest!

Pack light

Think about which items you might survive without.

Remember, lugging around unnecessary additional vehicle weight means your engine is working harder.

If you pack your vehicle full you should check your car weight limits, which will be printed in the manual.

An overloaded car will use more fuel than usual, costing you more at the pumps and the risk of a penalty. Driving an overloaded car is a punishable offence by law and the fine can be as much as £300, with three penalty points.

Your braking capability will also be affected – far from ideal if you need to stop suddenly.

Secure all loose articles

If you’re carrying large or heavy items on your journey, don’t forget to strap them securely.

In the event of an accident, a loose item can turn into a dangerous projectile.

Consider keeping heavy items under the seat – or, even better, packed safely in the boot or glovebox.

Save – but don’t scrimp – on fuel

Roads get much busier during the Christmas period so there’s an increased chance of congestion. This could cost you valuable pennies in wasted fuel.

The days leading up to Christmas tend to be the busiest on the road, making this far from the best time to drive during Christmas. Throngs of commuters on the road are joined by holiday traffic, not to mention the last-minute Christmas shoppers.

If possible, it’s best to avoid travelling on these days and opt for a quieter time instead.

Always ensure your tank is at least a quarter full to prevent you from getting stranded by the roadside and take the opportunity to top up your fuel whenever you can.

Vehicle checks

Before setting off, carrying out a few basic vehicle checks can help to lessen the chance of a breakdown.

For more information, refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for details on tyre pressure, engine oil and coolant maintenance.


When temperatures fall, water in your vehicle’s system can freeze very quickly. To prevent this, regularly check your coolant levels.

Concentrated antifreeze will need to be added to water at a 1:1 ratio.

Check your tyres

Figures from National Highways report that 1 in 5 motorway breakdowns are caused by tyre problems, highlighting the importance of checking your tyre tread and pressure.

When driving in slippery or wet conditions, it’s doubly important your tyres have at least 3mm of tread (the legal UK minimum).

Also check your tyres are pressured to the manufacturer’s guidelines.  

Underinflated or low-tread tyres make your vehicle harder to control and uses more fuel more quickly.  They will also increase your stopping distance when braking.

If your tyres are a little old, now may be a sensible time to get replacements.

Clean your lights

Your car can get a lot dirtier in winter – what with all the rain, sleet and snow – and all that mucky slush being thrown up against your vehicle. As such, it’s important your lights are clean so they make your car as visible as possible.

Visibility is worsened by heavy rain and snow – not to mention the gloom of winter days – making it even more important you can be seen by other road users.


Use a 50/50 solution of water/screen wash to help ensure your windscreen doesn’t freeze over when temperatures plummet.

Investing in a high quality screenwash is advisable.

You shouldalso check the condition of your windscreen wipers to ensure they can keep the windscreen clear, even in the heaviest of rain and dirty spray from the road.

Consider booking a vehicle check

Other common winter breakdown causes relate to engine management problems, mechanical failures and electrical faults.

You may wish to consider booking your car in with a professional mechanic for a check before you begin your festive trip, giving you the best chance of having a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas!

Emergency supplies for your Christmas drive

In case you do experience a roadside breakdown when driving this Christmas, it’s important you have some basic emergency supplies to ease the situation.

Your emergency supplies for your journey should include:

  • Your breakdown recovery service contact details
  • Smartphone
  • Smartphone charger
  • Snow shovel
  • Blankets
  • Warm coats
  • Torch
  • Jump leads for your battery
  • De-icer and ice scraper
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Screenwash
  • First aid kit
  • Old carpet/cardboard to help free you from ice and snow

Start Rescue, are on hand to assist you in the event of a breakdown 24/7, every day of the year (Yes, even Christmas Day!) so why not get a quote for your breakdown cover today?

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