Log in   Sign up

Car Care & Valeting

Vehicle Winter Essentials

Britain’s weather is notoriously unpredictable and the winter season is no exception – icy, cold and heavier winters open up a range of sales opportunities for a number of vehicle accessory products including the following:


Protecting the engine against freeze-ups and break-downs means making sure that the antifreeze/coolant provides the correct level of protection through the cold weather period. Antifreeze technology has advanced to keep pace with vehicle developments and contemporary antifreeze comes in three distinct types:

  • Silicate Based
  • OAT (Organic Additive Technology)
  • Si-OAT (Silicated Organic Additive Technology)

Each has a unique chemical formulation to protect engine components from corrosion and erosion. Different types should NEVER be mixed: doing so will simply cancel out the protective properties and reduce the product’s service life.

The wide variety of antifreeze products can be confusing for customers, and colour is no guide to which type a vehicle requires. Comma simplifies the choice with a concise range of performance antifreeze/coolants which carry official manufacturer approvals. Extensive application data (in both printed and electronic formats), backed-up with an industry leading performance guarantee, strengthens the Comma offering.

De-Icer & Screenwash

Using a good de-icer and scraper to clear frost and ice from your windscreen may seem like common sense, but a survey of 1,000 drivers by Autoglass® reveals that over a third of drivers do not keep either in their vehicle. According to the survey, more than 1 in 10 drivers admits to using hot water to clear their windscreen. As the glass goes from extreme cold to hot, thermal shock can cause the windscreen to crack, meaning the windscreen will need to be replaced.

De-icers quickly clear frost from the windscreen making a car safe to drive in seconds. The active ingredient, Ethanol and Mono Ethylene Glycol (MEG), melts icy deposits by lowering the freezing point of water. MEG is very slow to evaporate, so any product residue prevents water from re-freezing.

A good quality screenwash also contains MEG, which prevents water freezing in the washer reservoir and jets. It also has anti-smear properties to help maintain a clear windscreen whilst driving on gritted or salted road surfaces. To achieve the full freeze protection benefits, it is important to eject all existing fluid in the washer reservoir before adding new product.

Jump Leads

Sales of jump leads, or booster cables, increase four-fold during the winter with peak sales between October and January. A wide range of leads are available, each suited to a specific set of circumstances and customer requirements.

Maypole offers three types of jump leads, each suited to different situations. Poly Bagged – to keep in the car in case of emergency; these are the entry price point range and have a shorter lifetime than the heavy duty ranges. Fully Boxed – for people who want to use the same leads over time and are generally longer lasting. Professional – 100% copper core product can withstand a higher current and is suitable for heavy duty use. These leads are offered with a minimum of 20mm cross sectional area (CSA) of the cable used. The thicker the cable, the more current the leads can take, enabling them to start more powerful engines. The length of the cable gives reference to the reach: longer lengths will reach further from one car to another.


Battery chargers can be used to top up or re-charge a flat battery. Three types of battery chargers are available on the market, all with slightly different types of operation.

Trickle chargers deliver a small, continuous current to the battery, meaning that the charger can be left for medium to long periods of time for trickle or maintenance charging. These chargers typically have built-in incorrect and reverse polarity protection to prevent damage to the charger and the battery. A standard charger will deliver a higher amount of current, typically ranging from 12Amp to 30Amp, and will charge the battery in a shorter period of time. Similar to the trickle chargers, incorrect and reverse polarity protection as well as overload protection are normally integrated into the standard chargers. An automatic battery charger is very similar to a standard battery charger but with extra internal circuitry to regulate the current and voltage delivered – this means that it can be left connected to a battery without overcharging.

Starter chargers, a combination of a battery charger and starting device, are generally more heavy duty than standard battery chargers and are often used by mechanics. They will supply the required amperage to the battery to start the vehicle but can also be connected up to the battery to charge.

Apart from the battery, there are a number of other ignition problems which can prevent an engine from starting, such as failing glow or spark plugs or a faulty gasket. In an emergency situation an engine starting aid, like Bradex Easy Start can be used to get a vehicle on the road. Easy Start contains a mixture of lubricating oil and combustible solvents with a lower flashpoint than the air-fuel mix. When sprayed into the air intake chamber, Bradex Easy Start improves cold starting for all types of engine.

Snow Chains

Getting going is one thing, staying on icy roads is another issue facing drivers in the winter. Snow chains fitted on the driving wheels provide extra grip when driving on packed snow and ice. Two types of snow chains are available: steel link chains and composite snow chains – a combination of steel clips and nylon meshing.

Steel link chains, supplied by Sumex, come in two sizes: a 9mm cemented and zincified steel link chain and a larger 16mm cemented and zincified steel link chain for use on 4x4s. All Sumex snow chains include a flexible internal cable, an auto-blocking tensioning system and a double lateral spring to enable a perfect fit on all tyres. Due to the heavy duty nature of the chains, a speed of 30mph should not be exceeded to avoid damaging the vehicle or road surface.

With their exclusive structure of nylon interlaced with steel clips, Michelin composite snow chains guarantee optimal driveability on snow and ice when braking and cornering. Quick and easy to fit and remove, this product will not generate excess noise or vibration during use. Furthermore, these chains are compatible with both anti-lock braking systems and electric power steering systems. As with steel chains, composites are designed for short periods of driving at low speeds.

Snow Socks

Snow socks are a relatively new solution for driving in the snow and ice. Made from a multifilament thread in 100% recyclable polypropylene they are designed for cars with a low wheel arch clearance. Snow socks fit entirely over the wheel to provide additional grip during conditions of snow and ice.

Related Articles