Winter driving tips | Keeping you safe during the winter months

OSV brings you the best winter driving tips so you stay safe as the cold grips the country

Winter Driving Tips from OSV Ltd

Winter Driving Tips

Winter Driving Tips

For the motorist, winter is the most challenging of seasons. Once the clocks go back at the end of October, the tricky combination of adverse – and often unpredictable weather conditions, as well as prolonged hours of darkness can result in some hazardous driving situations. By employing there simple winter driving tips, you’ll be prepared in the event of anything going wrong.

On top of this, winter is also the time when most breakdowns occur. If anything’s potentially going to let you down on your car, the chances are it’ll be during the winter months. You and your vehicle need to be prepared.

Think that the majority of people are ready for winter? Well research conducted by the Highway’s Agency shows the following stats:

  • 45% of drivers do not make any vehicle checks
  • 28% do not take any of the items in the suggested emergency kit
  • 53% do not even carry de-icer.

Also, with Arctic winds approaching as of mid-November, it appears that winter is certainly on it’s way. Here are some key winter driving tips to ensure you don’t get caught out.

Preparing your car: forward planning.

On the morning the snow and ice actually appears, it’s a little too late to decide you really ought to have filled up on anti-freeze, sorted out that bald tyre and had those strange noises checked out. A little bit of planning goes a long way. Here is what you need to be thinking about well in advance of the bad weather really kicking in:


  • Check your tread. Don’t merely stick to the bare legal minimum. For winter driving you should aim for at least 3mm of tread.
  • Reducing your tyre pressure isn’t the answer. You’re more likely too lose control of your vehicle and it won’t give you any better grip
  • Do you need snow chains? In reality, this will only apply to drivers who are stranded in an isolated area hit by heavy snow. Remember to remove them once you’re out of the trouble spot.
  • Is it worth investing in winter tyres? They provide better grip in winter conditions – but less well than regular tyres in temperatures of 7 degrees or more. If you live in an area particularly prone to bad weather during the winter, this may be worth considering.


  • Do you need a new battery? Extra heating and lights usage takes its toll on battery life. If there’s any sign of wear and tear, consider a replacement.
  • A regular overnight trickle charge is recommended if the car goes undriven over the weekend.
  • Stock up on spare bulbs and remember to check your lights at least once a week. Don’t forget to check your fog lights either.


  • Check your handbook. Your car almost certainly uses long-life antifreeze. It’s important to get the right type for your vehicle.
  • Follow the service schedule. Your handbook may stipulate that the anti-freeze ought to be replaced every couple of years.
  • Make sure you get the mix right. The cooling system requires a 50-50 mix of water and anti-freeze in the winter and can prevent having to pay for expensive engine repairs.


  • Check for cracks, scratches and chips and have them dealt with. These can magnify the sun’s glare – especially when the sun is low in the sky.
  • Make sure you have a plentiful supply of screen wash.
  • Check that your wipers are doing their job properly.

Preparing for a winter journey

In particularly bad conditions, apply a little common sense as the most important of your winter driving tips arsenal first of all. If you can possibly avoid going out, it’s generally best to stay in. Check for local traffic and travel reports. It might be ‘not too bad’ where you are, but check the position further down the road.

  • Give yourself plenty of time to prepare your car – and extra time for your journey
  • Going out of your way to favour major roads may be advisable – as these are more likely to have been treated than minor routes.
  • Use a cigarette lighter to warm a key if the lock is frozen,
  • Make sure all the windows, lights and roof are clear of snow and the windows are fully de-misted before setting off. Use of the air-con results in faster demisting and reduces condensation.
  • Avoid putting undue pressure on the electrics. Turn off the rear window heater once clear and turn down the heater fan
  • If the engine doesn’t start immediately, use the starter in bursts of five seconds and leave 30 seconds between attempts
  • Top up on screen wash if necessary.

Winter driving tips

  • Don’t try to drive in snow-covered boots. Wear dry, comfortable shoes to ensure pedal control.
  • Pull away carefully in second gear
  • Keep your distance. Remember that stopping distances are ten times greater than usual in snow and ice
  • Apply brakes gently to retain control
  • Climbing hills: wait until hills are clear of traffic in front before starting your ascent. Choose as low a gear as possible and stick to it.
  • Descending hills: again, choose as low a gear as possible and try to avoid gear changes or having to use the breaks to slow down
  • Drivers of automatic cars use their ‘Winter’ mode if they have one. Otherwise programme ‘2’ will generally apply. The handbook should give full instructions.

Remember to pack an old rug to place under your front wheels for some traction if you get stuck in snow. You should also pack a blanket, torch – and of course a fully charged mobile phone.

We’re sure you know how to drive safely, but if this post helps 1 person we’ll be happy!

We hope you enjoyed our winter driving tips.

Andrew Kirkley
Latest posts by Andrew Kirkley (see all)
  • 15th November 2013

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