Stay safe this winter

Road conditions can be really challenging in the winter, especially when snow and ice strike. Breaking down can also be more common and even more dangerous. Stay safe with our winter driving advice:

Essential Kit

It’s always a good idea to pack some essentials no matter how well equipped your own car is. If the worst happens and you’re involved in an accident you’ll be grateful that you were well prepared. Consider keeping a winter driving kit in the boot.


There are extra demands on your car battery in the winter, thanks to lights, heating and wipers.

  • Turn off electrical loads like lights, heated rear window and wipers before trying to start the engine.
  • Use the starter in short five-second bursts.
  • If the engine doesn’t start quickly, wait 30 seconds between attempts.
  • If you don’t use your car often, give it a regular overnight trickle charge.


Antifreeze is essential and only costs a couple of pounds helping to avoid a frozen and cracked engine which could cost hundreds to repair. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water will protect your engine down to -34C. Modern cars use long-life antifreeze. Make sure you use the right type. Some antifreeze needs changing every two years. Check your service history.

Waterpump & Radiator

Continuous squealing when you startup probably means the water pump’s frozen. That noise is the fan belt slipping on the pulley. Stop the engine straight away and let it thaw out. This could take days unless you can move it into a heated garage.

If your car overheats a few miles from home, it’s likely that the radiator has frozen.  Stop straight away so you don’t cause more serious damage.


  • Clean your windscreen inside and out.
  • Keep the windscreen and other windows clear of dirt, snow and stickers, to avoid a fine.
  • Clear snow from the roof – it can fall onto the windscreen and block your view.
  • Air-con de-mists the screen faster and reduces condensation.
  • Replace worn or damaged wiper blades.
  • Don’t leave the wipers on auto when you park up if there’s a risk of frost. If the blades freeze to the screen, you could damage the blades or wiper motor when you turn the ignition on.
  • Use a suitable additive in your screen wash to reduce the chance of it freezing.

Here’s some more advice on how to keep a clear windscreen during the winter months.


  • Make sure all lights are working and lenses clean.
  • If the roads are really bad you might have to clean your lights after every trip.
  • Keep number plates clean, to avoid fines.
  • If you have to clear snow, don’t forget the lights – front and back.
  • You must use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced. If you use fog lights, remember to switch them off when visibility improves so they don’t dazzle other drivers or obscure your brake lights.


  • We recommend at least 3mm of tread for the winter.
  • Don’t let the air out of your tyres to get more grip, it doesn’t work, and it’s unsafe.
  • Only use snow chains if there’s enough snow to prevent damage to the road.
  • Think about getting winter tyres or all-season tyres, these are made from a special rubber that gives better grip in cold, wet conditions.

Need new tyres? Check out our tyre shop here:

Snow and ice

Stopping distances can be up to 10 times longer in the winter, gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving in ice and snow.

  • Wear comfortable, dry shoes for driving.
  • Pull away in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin.
  • Uphill – leave plenty of room or wait until it’s clear so you don’t have to stop partway up.
  • Keep a constant speed and try to avoid having to change gear on the hill.
  • Downhill – slow down before the hill, use a low gear and try to avoid braking. Leave as much room as you can to the car in front.
  • If you have to use your brakes, apply them gently.
  • If you drive an Automatic, check the handbook, some have a winter mode or recommend selecting ‘2’ in slippery conditions.
  • If you do get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels. Put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some grip.

Plan ahead

  • Allow extra time for winter journeys.
  • Try to get up at least 10 minutes early, to give you time to de-ice the car.
  • Check fuel levels – keep at least a quarter of a tank in case of an unexpected delay.
  • Clear your windscreen fully before driving off.
  • Clear all windows using a scraper and/or de-icer.
  • Plan routes to favour major roads, which are more likely to be cleared and gritted.
  • Don’t drive with a cold if you’re feeling unwell and on any medicine that could make you drowsy.