Winter brings with it a number of driving hazards, from black ice to reduced visibility, but that doesn’t change the fact that you still have to drive. To make sure you’re as safe as possible on the roads through the cold weather, we’ve put together some tips to follow.
Winter Car Maintenance
- Check your antifreeze
This sounds like an obvious one but you’re going to want to make sure that your antifreeze is topped up before winter hits. You’ll need an antifreeze tester to do this which can cost around £5, but you’ll rest assured that the water in your engine’s cooling system won’t freeze.
- Test your lights
You should probably be doing this regardless of the weather but it’s even more important as the days get darker that all of your external car lights work. Ask a passenger to stand behind the car while you test the brake lights and indicators to make sure they’re working perfectly.
- Inspect or replace your tyres
Regular car tyres wear down over time and the tread can reduce to the point where you’re at risk in bad weather. Before it snows or gets icy in winter, you should check your tyre tread depth with a tread depth gauge. If you drive frequently throughout winter, you could also look into getting special tyres that are designed specifically to cope with bad conditions.
- Evaluate your car battery
Winter is usually cold and wet, two factors that negatively affect your car’s battery. If you’ve noticed you’re struggling to get your engine going in colder months, it could be that your battery is dying. It’s possible to test a car battery yourself but we recommend visiting a professional!
Tips for driving in snow and ice
Knowing about winter car maintenance is only half of the process. You should also be aware of these top winter driving tips to make sure you are prepared for the dangers of roads when it snows or gets icy.
- Anticipate dangers
Awareness is key when you’re driving in winter – you want to make sure that you’re anticipating potential dangers such as patches of ice and preparing for them. Braking distances can be 10 times as long on icy roads, so you need to be ready to take action straight away if you lose traction.
- Keep it smooth
Ice and snow can exaggerate every movement you make in a car so to make sure you’re driving safely you’ll want to take it slow and smooth. In a manual, slip the clutch gently, keep revs to a minimum, and gear up early. In an automatic, check to see if you have a low-ratio mode, usually labelled with an L or a snowflake symbol.
- Manage your panic
If you do hit an ice patch or stretch of black ice, the most important thing is to stay calm. Keep the steering wheel as straight as possible and maintain speed. If you find yourself in a sideways skid, you should turn the steering wheel gently in the same direction that the rear of the car is angled. Avoid taking your hands off the wheel or braking hard!
- Have an emergency kit ready
If you do break down, get stuck, or crash, you don’t want to be caught unprepared. We’d advise keeping an emergency winter kit in your boot to make sure you’re ready for disaster. A torch, portable phone battery, blanket, and shovel are all good examples of things to include but feel free to personalise your own kit.
Now that you know about the most important aspects of winter car maintenance and top tips for driving in snow and ice, you should feel prepared for the upcoming season.
If you want reassurance that your car is ready for winter, we offer full car services that will put your mind at ease. We also sell new and used tyres so you can replace your worn out ones easily in the same visit.