Winter Driving Tips

As we enter December and with the inevitability of bad weather just around the corner its important to take the relevant precautions when driving. Therefore our car hire experts prepared a list with Winter Driving Tips.

It is reported that the number of breakdowns actually double in December so its always best to be prepared.

Driving in the cold, snow and/or ice isn’t the easiest but to try and help we’ve gathered some useful hints and tips as a check-list to help you.

Don’t leave the car standing too long. If you plan to leave the car unused over a weekend or for an extended period turning the engine over will help and keep the battery functioning.

Before travelling

Its always sensible to allow more travelling time in bad weather. Give yourself an extra 10-15 minutes to prepare the car and allow extra time for the actual journey. Its always better to arrive safely than rush your journey and risk problems.

Plan your journey trying to use as many major roads as possible. These are the roads that tend to be gritted properly and most drivers use so should be easier than some minor routes.

Fully clear the car of snow. This includes lights, all glass and the roof. Its also important to clear any dirt from lights and especially the number plate. If your number plates aren’t visible you could be fined.

De-ice or clear all windows of ice before setting off. Do not use boiling water to remove the ice as this could cause the glass to shatter or crack.

Clear windows internally of condensation a quicker way to do this is to use the air conditioning as this absorbs the moisture in the air quicker than using the heater. Don’t set off until your windows are all clear.

Check your tyres. In the winter it is recommended a minimum tread of at least 3mm. However despite what you have heard do not reduce your tyre pressure to get more grip. This doesn’t work and only goes to reduce stability.

Its always recommended that in bad weather you check fluid levels before you set off. A frozen cylinder block or radiator could lead to a breakdown in bad weather. It is recommended that a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is used in the engine as this should provide protection down to -34 degrees centigrade.

Always make sure there’s a full tank of windscreen wash as you could need this. Remember not to use your windscreen wipers until the windscreen is clear from frost and ice. Using them whilst this is still frozen could damage the blades for when you need them most.

We’d always recommended putting additional items in the boot in case of emergency. Extras such as warm blankets, extra clothes, bottled water and snacks. Hat, scarf and gloves, a shovel and some form of sack or old rug that can be put under your tyres if stuck.

Struggling to start?

If you vehicle is struggling to start the AA have suggested to use the starter in short five second bursts. If the engine doesn’t start quickly leave for 30 seconds and retry, this will allow the battery time to recover.

Driving in the ice and snow.

  • Slower and gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving. Please remember stopping distances are ten times longer in ice and snow!
  • The AA have made the following suggestions to aid you whilst driving.
  • Wear comfortable, dry shoes for driving. Cumbersome, snow covered boots will slip on pedals
  • Pull away in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin.
  • Up hill – avoid having to stop part way up by waiting until its clear of other cars or by leaving plenty of room from the car in front. Keep a constant speed and choose the most suitable gear well in advance to avoid having to change down on the hill.
  • Down hill – reduce your speed before the hill, use a low gear and try to avoid using the breaks. Leave as much room as possible between you and the car in front.
  • If you have to use your brakes apply them gently. Release the brakes and de-clutch if the car skids.
  • Automatic transmission – under normal driving conditions (motorways etc) its best to select drive and let the gearbox do the work throughout the full gear range. In slippery, snowy conditions its best to select 2 which limits the gear changes and also makes you less reliant on the brakes. Some automatics have winter mode which locks out first gear to reduce wheel-spin. But you can check the handbook for full information relating to the specific model.
  • If you get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels. Put a sack or old rug in front of the wheels to give you some grip. Once on the move try not to stop until you reach firmer ground.

Information sourced from