While winter is a wonderful time of the year, the unpredictable weather and varied road conditions can make driving more difficult than usual. Following our top winter driving tips listed below will help you get prepared for driving in the colder months, so you can feel confident on the road, whatever the weather brings.
1. Plan Your Journey
Ahead of a winter car journey, you should check the weather forecast and outline your route using a sat nav, which can also provide directions and help through diversions. Listening to traffic updates will also help you during your journey too. Always set aside more time than you normally would for your journey, accounting for any potential delays. You should also check that you have a sufficient amount of fuel and wear comfortable, dry footwear.
2. Test Your Battery
Car batteries are affected by the cold, so during the winter months they’re more likely to lose charge. Almost a quarter of cars that won’t start in winter are because they have a flat battery. One way to avoid this is to avoid leaving your vehicle parked up for long periods of time, as a car’s battery charges while the vehicle is being driven. The longer it spends stationary in freezing conditions, the faster it’ll lose charge.
Another thing to consider when checking your car battery, regardless of whether you decide to change it or not, is making sure the terminal connectors (positive & negative) are clean of any corrosion. This can be achieved by using a battery terminal pole cleaner and a small wire brush on the positive and negative cables when they are off. This will keep them clean and protected, and ensure there is no loss in power as your car has a protected connection to the battery.
Here are 3 products which will help remove corrosion from your current battery, or help you clean the positive and negative cables before installing a new battery.
Quick Release Battery Terminal (Pair)
These handy replacement battery terminals are a great replacement for your current ones, plus they have the added benefit of having secure quick release for easy removal and cleaning.
Sealey AK417 Battery Post & Terminal Cleaner
The Sealey wire brush is used to remove corrosion build up on battery posts and terminals for improved electrical contact.
Normfest Battery Pole Protector 300ml
Before fitting any car battery, it is important that you make sure the connection between the terminals and the cable clamps is clean. This protector helps to clean and ensure a protected connection once fitted.
3. Keep Your Windscreen Clear
Winter is a time of year when a driver is heavily reliant on their vision, so driving during the day is most advised – just beware that daylight is at its shortest. You should always keep your windscreen clear and regularly test your windscreen wiper blades to make sure that they’re fully functional. Wiper blades wear out over time and as they age, they lose their flexibility and can become misshapen, eventually no longer making contact your windscreen. Wiper blades are easy to replace and will help you to be able to keep your eyes on the road this winter.
Finally, a good screen wash will ensure that snow and dirt don’t settle on your windscreen, and should also be used to keep visibility clear during the rest of the year.
CarPlan – All Season Screen Wash Ready Mix 5L
This product is ready mixed with water for convenience. No need to dilute. Simply pour directly into the windscreen washer bottle
TRIPLE QX Concentrated -15c Winter Screen Wash 5L
Our Triple QX Concentrated BELOW 15 Screenwash cleans all types of dirt, grit, tar and sap from your windows, leaving a spotless, streak free finish.
4. Look After Your Engine
Anti-freeze controls the temperature of your engine, making sure it doesn’t overheat and that the water in the cooling system doesn’t freeze. This makes it the most important fluid under your bonnet.
Without anti-freeze, some of your car’s engine parts can be affected. These include:
-Warped or bent connector rods
Prestone 4L Ready to use Universal Anti-Freeze
Prestone Antifreeze is a high quality, universal coolant suitable for various vehicles, cooling systems and can even mix with all existing antifreeze. The ready to use mixture can be poured straight into an empty, or part filled system.
Sealey AK409 Ethylene Glycol Anti-Freeze Tester Dial Type
The Sealey tests glycol strength and includes temperature adjustments scale for accurate interpretation of mixture strength
5. Check Your Tyres
The road surface can often be uneven or unpredictable throughout the colder months, as a result of freezing conditions and the build-up of dirt and grit. You should check your tyre tread to make sure that they’ll provide you with enough grip when conditions start to change. The legal minimum tyre tread requirement is 1.6mm, but most garages recommend changing your tyres if the tread depth is less than 2mm. Tyre pressure can also impact your journey, so you should regularly test the pressure of your tyres.
MasterPro Tyre Tread Depth Gauge 0 – 25mm
- Chromed steel body with pocket clip
- 1.6 mm minimum recommended tread marking
- Scale from 0-25 mm in 1 mm (0-1″ in 1/32″) graduations
One of our tips for driving in the snow is to have a pair of snow tyres fitted. These purpose-built tyres provide maximum grip for wet and icy conditions, made with a softer compound with deeper grooves and narrow cuts built into their tread. This design allows the rubber to move around through any water or snow, providing greater contact with the road. Winter tyres perform best when driving in conditions with temperatures below 7 degrees.
If changing your tyres sounds a bit too drastic, then our range of Snow Socks & Snow Chains are an alternative – they can be fitted and removed in less than 5 minutes and offer you the ability to drive through snow, increasing grip by over 300%
6. Prep Your Door Locks & Rubber Seals
During the winter season or colder months, locks, door jams and windows can freeze due to the moisture build up inside the car cabin as heat passes from the inside to the outside. This transition from hot to cold creates condensation which eventually freezes around door seals and in keyholes.
If you have an older car which is opened manually with the key, spraying WD40 onto the key and into the keyhole can be a great way to stop it from freezing. Wipe the key clean and insert it into the lock. This will coat the rollers which will stop moisture building up.
To repel water from the rubber door seals, use a rubber seal protector, dab a microfiber cloth into the lubricant and lightly massage it into the rubber seals.
WD-40 100ml Aerosol
WD-40 protects metal from rust and corrosion, penetrates stuck or jammed parts, displaces moisture and lubricates just about anything. WD-40 is also great when it comes to cleaning grease, grime and other marks from most surfaces.
7. Control Your Speed
Remember to keep a safe distance to any traffic in front, allowing for plenty of space in case you need to brake suddenly. The two-second rule for driving on a dry road should be doubled during wet conditions, and then on icy days, give yourself an even larger time gap. You should also avoid tailgating, and slow down when your visibility is impacted by heavy rain or snow.
During the winter months, there’s often ice and snow on the road. These hazards can significantly increase your stopping distance. Be careful when approaching patches of road which aren’t gritted. The surface is likely to be even more unpredictable and will mean that you should be even more cautious when braking. You should also regularly check your brake pads, to make sure they’re in fully working order.
8. Carry a Breakdown Kit
The UK sees a large number of breakdowns during winter, due to the weather and also drivers forgetting to protect their car. One of our main tips for driving in winter is to always pack an emergency breakdown kit, which includes a range of safety equipment.
If your vehicle has broken down, you should use a warning triangle to let other drivers know that you’ve stopped. It’s a good habit to keep a torch on board, and a booster pack will help get your engine restarted if it’s been impacted by the cold. We also suggest that you should keep some essentials in your vehicle just in case it breaks down. A blanket will give you some warmth and having a portable phone charger means you can stay connected and call for help.