Winter Driving Advice

Driving in winter can be hazardous as the dark nights, slippery road surfaces and challenging weather conditions combined require more care and attention. Stay safe on the road this winter with our helpful winter driving advice.

Be Prepared

Extra time and planning is essential when it comes to winter driving to ensure that you stay safe on the road.

Pack a handy winter kit in your vehicle which should include an ice scraper, an in-car phone charger, a blanket, a torch and a snow shovel.

Before heading off in your car this winter, you should check the weather forecast and ensure that the predicted conditions are safe. If heavy snow or thick fogs are forecast, Setyres would recommend avoiding any unnecessary journeys.

You should also check travel updates as breakdowns and accidents are more common in winter, you are more likely to face disruptions and delays on the road.

Essential Vehicle Checks

Keep your vehicle running smoothly this winter by undertaking the following checks:

  • Check your tyre tread depth every three weeks to ensure that it meets the legal minimum of 1.6mm. Setyres would recommend replacing your tyres at 3mm as at this point your gripping capabilities are drastically affected.
  • Ensure that your engine oil and coolant meet sufficient levels.
  • Inspect your windscreen wipers for any signs of damage and replace them if you do notice fraying, cuts or tears.
  • Make sure that your screen wash is topped up and add the correct mixture of antifreeze, as recommended in your vehicle handbook, as water alone is at risk of freezing.
  • Keep an eye on your battery and get it checked if it is over 3 years old or shows signs that it is beginning to struggle.

You may also consider booking a car service to ensure that your car is in optimal condition to face winter.

Driving Advice

Before you set off it is vital that you make sure you have a clear, unobstructed view of the road. Use an ice scraper to remove all ice and snow from your windscreen, windows and mirrors and use your air conditioning (where possible) to rapidly remove condensation from the inside. If your air conditioning does not effectively clear the condensation, you should consider an air con top-up. If you do not have air conditioning in your car, use your heaters. Set the air flow to the windscreen and slowly increase the temperature from cold to warm to dry the air.

In icy conditions it is important to bear in mind that braking distances are longer due to the friction between your tyres and the surface of the road being reduced. For this reason, it is essential that you drive at a slower speed and maintain a gap ten times larger than usual between your vehicle and the one in front.

Try to drive gently in ice and snow, as sharp manoeuvres could cause you to lose control of your vehicle. If you do skid, try not to panic and instead allow your vehicle to pass over the ice. Try to keep the steering wheel straight and gently steer in to the skid, this will enable your wheels to regain traction with the surface of the road.

Hazard Perception

Be aware of the environment around you and exercise caution if you run in to the following potential hazards:


Bridges and overpasses are more exposed than roads, so they will freeze before the road and take longer to thaw. Express caution and anticipate ice when approaching a bridge or overpass, even if the road before is clear or just wet.


When driving uphill in winter, try to maintain a steady speed, drive in a high gear to maintain traction and do not begin your ascent unless you have a clear path. If you meet traffic on a hill and there is not enough room for both vehicles, the one travelling uphill should be given priority. Alternatively, whilst travelling downhill use a low gear and slow down before you begin to descend.


Try to decrease your speed when approaching a bend in the road to enable you to retain control of your vehicle. Steer gently into the bend and maintain a constant speed you feel comfortable with.