Winter Driving Tips
How to drive safely in snow and ice
The roads can be dangerous in winter when there's snow, ice or sleet. Our top tip is to take it slow. Stopping distances can be 10 times longer when it's icy. Gentle manoeuvres and slow speeds are the key to safe driving in ice and snow.
Remember, if you have any concerns at all about your vehicle's capability in bad weather, you can book in for a Winter Check and have our technicians certify it as safe for the road this Winter.
Before you set off
- Allow extra time for winter journeys.
- Plan routes around major roads, which are more likely to be cleared and gritted.
- Try to get up at least 10 minutes early to give you time to de-ice the car.
- Check your tyres have at least 3mm of tread on them to ensure correct performance on slippy roads
- Check fuel levels – have at least a quarter of a tank in case of unexpected delays.
- Clear all windows using a scraper and de-icer and wait until the windscreen's fully demisted.
- Check any medications you might be taking, some can make you feel drowsy behind the wheel.
- If you drive an automatic, check the handbook – some have recommended winter setting for driving in slippery conditions.
Driving on winter roads
- Pull away in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin.
- If you have to use your brakes, apply them gently.
- Driving uphill – leave plenty of room between other cars or wait until it’s clear so you don’t have to stop part way up. Keep a constant speed and try to avoid having to change gear on the hill.
- Driving downhill – slow down before the hill, use a low gear and try to avoid braking. Leave as much room as you can after the car in front.
If you get stuck in snow or ice.
- If you get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels.
- Try placing an old rug or door mat in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some grip.
Essentials for you car:
- Ice scraper
- De-icer Torch and spare batteries
- First aid kit
- Keep a fully-charged mobile phone and power bank. That way you can let friends or relatives know if your journey's taking longer than usual or call for help in an emergency.
- Warm clothes, waterproofs and high-vis jackets
- Hot drinks and snacks
- Jump leads
- Warning triangles
Clear your windows of snow, ice and mist
Visibility is key in Winter. Make sure all your windows are clear of ice, snow and condensation before you set off.
- Keep the windscreen and other windows clear of dirt and snow to avoid a fine.
- Clear any snow from the roof – it can fall onto the windscreen and block your view
- Use air-con to demist the screen faster and reduce condensation.
- Replace worn or damaged wiper blades.
- Do not leave your wipers in 'auto' mode. If the blades freeze to the screen, you could damage the blades or wiper motor when you turn the ignition on.
- Use a suitable additive in your screenwash to reduce the chance of it freezing.
Make sure everyone can see your vehicle
With long, dark nights and additional rain, sleet and snow, there's more chance of poor visibility when driving in winter.
- Make sure all car lights are working and the lenses are clean.
- If the roads are really mucky, you might have to clean your lights after every trip.
- Keep number plates clean, to avoid fines.
- If you have to clear snow, don’t forget the lights – front and back.
- You must use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced. If you use fog lights, remember to switch them off when visibility improves.
Look after batteries and electrics
Car batteries rarely last longer than 5 years. There are extra demands on them in the winter thanks to lights, heating and wipers. Here are some tips to prevent a flat battery in winter:
- Turn off electrical loads like lights, heated rear window and wipers before trying to start the engine.
- Use the starter in short 5-second bursts.
- If the engine doesn't start quickly, wait 30 seconds between attempts.
- If you don't use your car often, give it a regular overnight trickle charge.