Our essential winter advice for drivers - all the information you need to stay safe on the road
We’re all about to face driving in snow, ice, heavy rain, and mud, so we’ve compiled our essential winter advice for any motorist.
It will help you get the basics right and keep you and your passengers safe.
From preparing your car to the kit you need to carry, this handy guide contains all the winter advice you need…
Prepare your car
The RAC recommends that before you drive anywhere in winter, you check your FORCES (fuel, oil, rubber, coolant, electrics, and screenwash).
Make sure you have enough fuel for your journey, as your car will use more in heavy traffic and stop-start queues which build up when there is heavy rain or snow.
Check your oil and top it up if you need to, as this will help you avoid a breakdown, and top up your coolant with anti-freeze. Check the pressure and condition of your tyres and consider putting winter tyres on your car which work at temperatures below 7C. They are often the same price as comparable summer tyres and will help you stop safely in snow, ice, and heavy rain.
Check the electrics, especially your lights, and check your screenwash works down to -10C.
A pre-winter driving check should also include the brake fluid and functioning of your brakes, ensuring your car can cope if you need to brake because of slippery conditions.
Cold conditions can also mean your car is sluggish when it comes to starting. It’s worth getting a battery check and getting a new battery if necessary.
Invest in some cans of de-icer to ensure you can clear your windscreen quickly and clear ice from your car’s locks.
Get your bad weather kit together
Think about what you’d need if you get stuck or break down during bad weather.
Your kit should contain:
A blanket or two
Spare warm coats
A first aid kit
A tow rope
Some emergency food
A fully-charged power bank for your phone
An electronic jump-starter or jump-start leads
Keep this kit in your boot for the winter.
Change your driving habits in difficult conditions
We all need to take more care in winter because of the difficult road conditions it can bring.
Leave a longer stopping distance between you and the vehicle in front of you and slow down. It’s the best winter advice anyone could give you. Slippery road surfaces can lengthen stopping distances by up to ten times.
Slow down through surface water. This will help you avoid the risk of aquaplaning, which is potentially very dangerous and can lead to a car spinning out of control. If you have to pass through flood water, do so in low gear and with high revs to prevent the engine stalling. Press the brake pedal lightly once you’re out of the water to dry out the brakes.
In fog, drive with dipped headlights and leave plenty of distance between your car and other vehicles.
If there is snow, listen to weather warnings and avoid travelling if this is recommended. If you do drive in snow and ice, take it slowly as stopping distances increase tenfold. Go down hills slowly and slow down by going down the gears. Use your brakes lightly as heavy braking can lead to locking and you losing control.
Keep your windows, lights, wheel arches, and number plates clear of snow, and don’t drive with snow and ice on your roof. It could come off and smash the windscreen of a vehicle behind and you could also face a fine.
If you get stuck in snow, don’t rev the engine. Put the car into a higher gear, such as second gear, and gently rock it backwards and forwards.
If you’re stuck in a snow drift, stay with the car and phone a breakdown service. If you’re in a dangerous position, call the police.
Here's one last piece of winter advice - carry sunglasses!
It’s counter-intuitive, isn’t it?
However, when there is low winter sun you can avoid being blinded by it by carrying a pair of sunglasses. Ensure your windscreen is clean to give you the best vision and ensure other drivers can see you by turning on your lights.
If you’re looking for a new or used car to take you through the winter, take a look at our range.