The snow that recently descended on the UK has had the predicted chaotic effect on the transport system, catching out thousands of motorists and demonstrating the importance of adequately preparing your car for the winter weather.

Starting with the very basics, it is important to ensure that you have the right car insurance. Your policy should incorporate breakdown cover, which is vital during the winter given the large numbers of drivers who struggle to contend with the difficult road conditions at this time of year. You may break down on the motorway or even accidently lock your keys in the car while de-icing it. In any case, hundreds of pounds could be saved simply by ensuring that you have a breakdown policy.

You should also pack plenty of warm things in your car. If you suffer a breakdown, you are safest away from your car and the road, making it essential to pack at least a good coat and other warm clothes on every journey. For long journeys, consider a flask of hot tea or coffee just in case you get stranded; you can still enjoy it otherwise though! In addition to warm clothes and blankets, you may also benefit from some other tools and gear, such as a torch, scraper and de-icer, first aid kit, battery jump leads and perhaps even a shovel if heavy snow is forecast.

In addition, you should get your vehicle serviced. A serviced vehicle that has been shown to be in good running order will help you have real confidence in it at a time of year when you least want it to break down. It’s also worth asking the garage to check and replace your radiator’s anti-freeze so that you have additional protection from a weather-related breakdown.

Furthermore, ensure that you have a clean windscreen. If needed, have your windscreen wipers replaced and your screen washer is topped up. Adding less water to the concentrate solutions can also be a good idea to reduce the risk of it freezing over; there are generally instructions for this on the bottles you purchase. You should also wipe any grime off your lights regularly and check the bulbs so that you can be sure that you can be seen by other road users.

Your car’s tyres are what keep you on the road, so it is best to look after them appropriately. They will need a suitably deep tread to provide grip when driving in icy conditions, and they will need to be inflated to the pressure for the vehicle and load that is recommended by the manufacturer.

Hannah Warder writes for MediaVest (Manchester) on a number of topics including car insurance .