WINTER: Driving Tips & Checklist

Thanks to Kirklees local authority for this winter driving checklist and tips – well worth a read!

You are more likely to break down or face traffic disruption when travelling in winter. To help you prepare for driving in winter we have put together some handy checklists and tips.

Essential winter items to keep in the car:
Blanket, Gloves, Thick socks, Scarf, Hat, Warm coat, Reflective jacket, Foil / emergency blanket (90% heat reflectivity or higher is ideal), Ice scraper, Sunglasses, First aid kit, Warning triangle, Spare bulbs, Map and sat nav, Torch (either wind up version or carry spare batteries), De-Icer, Shovel, Grit / sand / cat litter (to provide grip under tyres), Tow rope, Snow chains or snow socks (if you are still running summer tyres), Phone & Car Charger, Water, Medication, Emergency food


Don’t rely on your vehicles heater – if you have to get out and walk, or if you run out of fuel, breakdown or have to turn the engine off be prepared for the cold temperature.


Car Care Checklist:

  • Tyres – most UK cars come fitted with summer tyres, consider changing to winter or all weather tyres. While the legal minimum is 1.6mm, no less than 3mm is recommended for winter driving. Check tyre pressures regularly as they can change once the temperature drops.
  • Antifreeze – check coolant level, top up if it’s low or take it to your local garage.
  • Battery – a flat battery is the most common cause of winter breakdowns. Check yours is OK, your local garage or battery dealer can help.
  • Fuel – keep at least a quarter of a tank in case of unexpected hold ups or delays.
  • Lights – carry spare bulbs and make sure all lights are clean and working correctly.
  • Windscreen – renew worn wiper blades and clean windscreen inside and out. Don’t try and clear a frozen windscreen with wipers as it can damage the rubber. Don’t defrost your windscreen by pouring boiling or hot water over it, as it could crack.
  • Screenwash – use a 50% mix of good quality screenwash to stop it from freezing. Top up regularly – you’ll use a lot more in the winter months.
  • Locks and seals – stop doors freezing shut by using Vaseline or similar product on rubber door seals.

Driving tips in snow and ice:

  • Only travel if absolutely necessary.
  • Consider winter or all weather tyres.
  • You must be able to see, so clear ALL snow and ice from windows, mirrors and the roof (to stop it slipping onto the windscreen when braking).
  • Wear comfortable, dry shoes for driving.
  • The trick to driving in winter is being gentle and planning ahead.
  • Pull away in 2nd gear where possible, low revs and a gentle right foot so the wheels don’t spin.
  • Stick to main gritted routes where possible and stay off closed roads.
  • Plan well ahead when driving to avoid having to stop or slow down on hills.
  • Drive slowly around bends, where loss of control is a risk.
  • Reduce speed early and gently, use a low gear and engine breaking, try not to be heavy on the brakes so you don’t slide.
  • Leave plenty of space between you and the car in front, stopping distances can increase by ten times dry weather distances.
  • Gritted roads can still be slippery – always drive for the weather conditions.
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