What are the most important tips on winter driving?

By Julia Freeman

UK winters are normally cold and wet and can be icy with snow or fog at times. In the same way that you dress differently for the winter months, your driving should also change to account for the weather conditions.

Winter driving

Vehicle checks

Before setting out to drive you need to know that your vehicle is ready for the winter weather conditions. Ideally, your vehicle should be made winter-ready when your vehicle is serviced with the battery, alternator, wipers, oil and steering being checked, along with having your tyres checked or changed as appropriate. Also, the screen wash must be topped up with correct fluid strength.
 
Vehicle and car tyres are the most safety-critical component as they are the only part of the vehicle that is in contact with the road. Our tyre professionals can let you know if you need to change your tyres, or to recommend models if you want to buy winter tyres. Our qualified technicians can fit new tyres from manufacturers such as Pirelli or Bridgestone.

Basic driving tips

When you need to drive, whether on a short or long trip, it is best to plan your route avoiding accident black spots, steep hills and congested roads where possible. You should also remember that stopping distances on wet and icy roads will be significantly longer than in dry conditions. Take account of this by driving at a slower speed and keep your distance from the vehicle in front.
 
The weather could be hazy or foggy, so you must adjust your speed based on the distance you can see clearly in front. Harsh braking or coarse steering can cause you to lose control of the vehicle if the road is icy or covered in snow, so drive cautiously. You should also avoid coasting, especially when cornering. Don’t take your foot off the accelerator unless you are braking.

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Other driving tips

Fortunately, in the UK we have appropriate road warning and speed limit signs. Pay special attention to road signs so that you know what is ahead and you are ready take the appropriate action.
 
Your vehicle may be equipped with safety features, such as traction control and ABS. To stop the rear wheels spinning, some vehicles are fitted with traction control, also called Electronic Stability Programme or ESP. If the ESP system detects wheel spin, a light will flash on the dashboard and the traction control will try and stabilise the vehicle by applying braking to the appropriate wheel to correct the stability.
 
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), if fitted to your vehicle, is also designed to maintain traction and enable steering during severe braking. It will prevent lockup and slow the vehicle down in a shorter distance. You will know when ABS is active as there will be a juddering from the brake pedal. If you do not have ABS on your vehicle, you can pump the brake to slow it down in icy conditions.

Book now

Adherence to the above guidelines for winter driving is essential for safe and uneventful journeys. To have your tyres checked, you can book an appointment online and our qualified tyre professionals will be pleased to check your tyres and fit winter tyres if needed. You can also book a full service to get your vehicle ready for winter driving.

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About the author

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By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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