Safe winter driving tips

Top tips for driving in snow and ice

If you’re planning to drive in bad weather, preparing the car before you set off is vital.

Most of these items you can check yourself and your garage can help with the rest.

a frosty wind screen wiper

Tyres: Should be a checked monthly all year round – checking tread depth, tyre pressure and sidewall damage should all be carefully monitored. Have a proper look at the spare tyre as well, it’s a legal requirement to keep it in good condition. Remember 1.6mm of tread is the UK legal limit, 3mm is recommended.

Battery: Battery capacity tends to drop with the temperature, worth remembering if you have trouble starting up on a cold morning – get you battery checked.

Screenwash: Keep it topped up (you use a lot more in winter) and make sure it has a proper additive at the right concentration – You don’t want it to freeze!

Windscreen wipers: Are they leaving stripes across the screen?
If so it’s time to replace your wipers. It goes without saying you’ll need them more in the winter, so make sure they are up to the task. Remember to carry an ice scraper and de-icer spray as using your wipers on frozen windscreens will cause the rubbers on your wiper blades to rip – and cost you a set of wiper blades.

Fuel: Try not to let your fuel levels drop too much as this can lead to ice forming in the tank and fuel lines. It’s also not much fun running out of fuel in the snow!

First Aid kit: Always have a First Aid kit in your car for immediate assistance.

Gear selection: In icy conditions, pull away in second gear and ease off the clutch gently to avoid wheel spin. Maintain a constant speed and avoid changing down gears when going up a hill. Choose third or fourth gear when driving downhill to prevent skidding and always apply your brakes gently.

Headlights: Another thing you use a lot more in the winter specially on those darker days, so ensure they are clean and free from dirt.

Servicing: Ensure your car’s servicing is up to date. Don’t go risking getting stranded in poor weather conditions because a fault suddenly develops.

Mobile phone: Ensure you have a fully-charged mobile phone just in case you become stranded.

Desperate measures: It happens to many people each year – getting stranded for hours at a time can be annoying. If you do have to spend the night in your car, you’ll be glad you packed a hat, scarf, coat, blanket. Keep something in the glovebox, a sandwich or even a a bar of chocolate, you may need it.

Lastly if the weather is looking really bad, ask yourself…is your journey really necessary? If you absolutely have to head out, take a shovel with you. The chances of skidding in ice or snow covered roads are much higher and your stopping distance is increased dramatically. Maintain a reduced speed and allow plenty of time for slowing down for corners or bends and don’t change lanes unnecessarily.

If you are unsure of how to check these items or would like us to give your car the once over then you can book in for our free winter health check.

Stay safe

Thomas Robson
Development manager
Central Audi & VW Specialists