Winter Driving Tips

Never underestimate the dangers of driving in winter – snow, ice, water and cold can all be hazardous and can affect your vehicle’s control, handling, performance and safety on the roads. Stay safe during the colder seasons by following our simple tips!


If you haven’t already, now is the time to make the switch to winter tyres! It is recommended to switch to winter tyres when the average temperature drops below 7°C. While not a legal requirement in the UK, winter tyres are specifically designed to stay supple when temperatures drop ensuring that you retain grip on difficult winter surfaces.

If you choose not to fit winter tyres to your vehicle, you should still ensure that the tyres you are relying on are up to standard! Make sure that they are filled to their recommended tyre pressures and you have at least 3mm of tyre tread.


The winter months are notoriously cold and dark. Broken lights can be dangerous as you won’t be visible to other users - so, before setting off, test your lights. The best way to do this is with another person, who can check the lights from outside your car. Alternatively, visit your local Setyres branch for a free light health check!


Failing car batteries are the biggest cause of winter breakdowns, due to the extra stress on them – extra battery power is necessary to power the lights, heating and wipers. It is imperative that you ensure your battery won’t let you down in the bitter cold. If you know that your battery is nearing three years of age, you should get it checked! Book a Free Battery Check at your local Setyres branch and let our specialists make sure that it is in good condition.


It is also advisable to check that your engine fluid levels are all at sufficient levels before winter hits. Look under your bonnet and make sure that your engine oil and coolant levels have not dropped below the fill line. You can top these up by following your vehicle manufacturer handbook yourself or book a FREE winter health check.

During winter, snow and rain can affect your view of the road – so you must also check your windscreen wipers are working effectively and your screen wash is sufficiently topped up. If you need to fill your screen wash, use a premixed antifreeze screenwash or add the correct mixture of antifreeze, as recommended in your vehicle handbook, as water alone is at risk of freezing. You can also purchase ready to use antifreeze screenwash.


Before setting off on any journey in winter, you should check the weather forecast and travel updates to ensure that it is safe to drive, and that your route will be clear. If it snows or if freezing temperatures are predicted, you may want to reconsider driving.

If it is necessary to drive however, you should do so slowly and carefully. Try to plan your journey sticking to main roads, as smaller lanes are less likely to have been gritted and may be more hazardous. Be sure to allow for extra time for any journeys and never rush to make up time when there is snow and ice around! You will need to prepare your vehicle before driving by removing any ice, snow or condensation from your mirrors and windows – take a look at our helpful advice on demisting your windscreen.


Winter tyres are not a legal requirement in the UK, but they are a good idea – especially if you do a lot of driving. Winter tyres offer the following benefits:

  • Added grip in adverse weather like rain, ice and snow.
  • Improved car performance
  • Provide better protection for those living in rural areas, ascountry roads are often not gritted.

For more information on winter tyres, browse our extensive range of premium and budget brands!


In wintery conditions you should adjust your driving style to ensure that all braking, accelerating and steering is as gentle as possible, as this will help your tyres maintain as much grip as feasible with the surface of the road. It can take up to ten times longer to come to a stop on an icy road, so it is important that you keep an appropriate distance from the car in front.

If you do skid, resist the temptation to apply your brakes. Instead, take your foot off the accelerator slowly. Wait for your tyres to regain traction with the road and gently steer in the direction of travel. Do not make any sudden or harsh manoeuvres – as this can cause the wheels to lock and worsen the skid.


Many drivers struggle to start their cars on icy and snowy roads. We recommend trying to start your vehicle in second gear. First gear does not offer much grip – while second gear offers the tyres much needed power and traction on slippery roads.


Skidding is very common in icy weather – to avoid it, we recommend travelling at a slow, steady pace. But what if you do happen upon some invisible black ice and lose control of your vehicle? Although counterintuitive, do not slam your foot on the brakes – this will cause further skidding. Only lightly tap and keep both hands on the wheel so you can stay in control at all times.


While not the first thing on many minds, a breakdown kit is vital, especially in the winter as a car can get very cold. If you do breakdown, you’ll feel lucky that you grabbed a small box or bag to fill with things such as:

  • Blanket
  • Warm clothes like socks
  • Torch
  • Charged phone/portable charger
  • Jump start cables
  • Map
  • Long life snacks
  • Puncture repair kit (not necessary if you have run flat tyres)
  • First aid kit
  • Ice scraper
  • Breakdown cover provider’s contact details

Your breakdown kit can be kept in the back of the car – you may never use it but it’s good to be prepared

Still apprehensive about driving in winter conditions? Get in touch with one of our helpful team or visit your local Setyres branch for answers to your winter driving queries.

Posted on: 01/12/2017

« Back to news