Winter Driving Tips

Winter driving can throw up many challenges, even if you don’t live in a remote, mountainous location. Longer nights, snow, ice, flooded roads, fog and low sun all result in the winter being the busiest time of year for motor claims.

There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure you are not caught out by the weather.


If your car is due a service approaching winter, get it serviced as soon as possible! If not, make sure you check everything you can – oil levels, brake fluid, screen wash, tyre tread and tyre pressure. Make sure they are all well within the manufacturers recommendations. Topping up the coolant with anti-freeze will help to prevent damage to pipes from the cold weather too.

Breakdown companies have advised that January is their busiest time for call outs as a result of flat batteries. If you find your car struggling to start on these cold mornings, it could be a sign that your battery needs replacing.

Emergency supplies

When driving in the winter it pays to be prepared for the worst. You should make sure you carry a coat with you (even if you aren’t planning on getting out of your warm car!), a blanket, tow rope, torch and a shovel. It is also worth thinking about carrying some water and snacks in case you are stranded for a long time.

Driving style

The most important bit of advice for driving in ice and snow is to take it slow – and not drive at all if you can help it. It can take up to ten times longer to stop on ice and your tyres won’t be able to grip if you’re going too fast. When going downhill, slow down gradually by going down the gears and only use the brakes very lightly. Heavy braking can lock up the tyres, meaning you’ll lose control and you’ll be no more than a passenger. Be aware that even if you have a 4×4 you won’t be able to stop any quicker than a normal car, so just take it easy.

Keep lights, windows, number plates and wheel arches clear of snow, and remember that there could be icy patches even when the snow has melted and the road looks clearer. If you get stuck in snow, don’t rev the engine too much – you’ll just get more and more stuck. Instead, put the car in a higher gear (second could be best) and gently rock it forwards and backwards.

If you get caught in a snow drift, don’t leave your vehicle – stay put and call your breakdown cover or, if you’re in a dangerous position, the emergency services.

picture of car stranded in snow




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