10 Tips for Driving Your Car in Winter

Winter driving conditions can be treacherous. The snow and ice, long nights, and strong winds increase the chances of being involved in an accident every time you get behind the wheel. Here are the top 10 tips for preparing your car, planning your trip and driving safely in the winter.

Service Your Car

To ensure your car is ready for any weather, always follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. Properly maintaining your car involves the following:

  • Test the interior and exterior lights
  • Service the brakes
  • Clean the windscreen inside and out
  • Replace your old windscreen wipers
  • Test the car battery
  • Rotate your tyres
  • Top off the fluids, including the oil, antifreeze and windscreen wiper fluid
  • Get an oil change

Replace Your Tyres

The legal minimum tyre tread depth in the summer is 1.6mm. Due to harsher weather in the winter, the requirement this time of year increases to 3mm. At the very least, make sure your tyres are legal for winter driving. Better yet, replace them with new all-season or winter tyres for superior traction in snowy conditions. If you opt for winter tyres, remember to swap them out for all-season or summer tyres when the weather warms up this spring.

Stock Your Car with Emergency Supplies

During stormy weather, it’s best to stay home if you can. If you must brave the storm, pack an emergency kit in case you get stranded. Here are the supplies to bring with you:

  • Heavy coat, hat and gloves
  • Blanket
  • Waterproof boots
  • Windscreen ice scraper
  • Small shovel
  • De-icing salt or kitty litter for traction
  • Torch and extra batteries
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Water and non-perishable food

Leave Early

If you have an important appointment, give yourself plenty of time to get there. Remember, you’ll have to scrape ice and snow off your car if you park outside, and you’ll need to drive more slowly once you hit the road to avoid getting in an accident. Leaving early allows you to take your time without feeling rushed.

Adjust Your Driving for Snowy Weather

Driving in snow feels completely different from travelling on dry roads. Accidents are sometimes unavoidable, but you can help prevent an incident by following these tips for driving in winter weather:

  • Drive well below the speed limit.
  • Keep both hands on the wheel at all times.
  • Turn down the music and remain extra aware of your surroundings.
  • Maintain a large gap between you and the car ahead of you to account for longer stopping distances.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes or steering sharply, especially around turns.
  • Drive in a higher gear to help you maintain control on snowy roads.
  • If you have trouble getting your car moving in first gear, try shifting into second to give your tyres more traction.
  • Ease off the gas earlier than usual to reduce your speed whilst approaching a red light.
  • If you start skidding, recover by steering into the skid. This helps your tyres regain their grip on the road so you can straighten back out.

Keep Your Car Heated and Ventilated

Window mist is more common in freezing weather. To maintain good visibility, run the defroster and keep the windows cracked. Also, avoid using the air recirculation setting because this closes off the vents and prevents fresh air from entering the car. You may even want to turn on the air conditioner with the temperature knob on full heat for extra dehumidification. These techniques reduce moisture build-up inside the car to help your windows remain mist-free.

Know When to Use Your Fog Lights

Cold, humid weather leads to foggy conditions, which can reduce visibility to dangerously low levels. Drive cautiously and use your fog lights to help illuminate the road. Just remember to turn the lights off when visibility improves. Otherwise, you may blind other drivers and overpower your brake lights.

Never Drive on Flooded Roads

Here in Taunton and Somerset, rainfall is common all year round, including in the winter. If flooding occurs, stay off the road. If you’re out and about when the flooding begins, plan a route home to avoid low-lying areas. Obey road closure signs and turn around if you encounter a flooded road. If you’re certain the water is shallow enough to drive through, proceed slowly in first gear to avoid stalling.

Keep Your Tank Topped Off

It’s a good idea to keep your eye on the fuel gauge any time of year, but running out of gas is especially dangerous in the winter. That’s why you should never let the gauge drop below half a tank when it’s cold outside. This way, you greatly reduce the risk of getting stranded in bad weather.

Buy a Car with Winter Safety Features

Modern vehicles come with advanced safety features that make driving in the snow, less hazardous. Some features, including antilock brakes and stability control, are required by government regulations. Still, others are only available on certain vehicle makes and models. Here are the features to look for when shopping for a used car:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Engine block heater
  • Headlight washers and wipers
  • Heated side mirrors
  • Windscreen wiper de-icers
  • Heated seats and steering wheel
  • Remote start

Shop Used Cars in Taunton

If you’re looking for a quality used car or SUV to get you through this winter and many winters to come, head to Westpark Direct just off Junction 26 of the M5. We get our used cars direct from the owner, meaning there are no auction fees or middlemen to take your money. There’s no better place to find wholesale prices on used cars in Taunton and Somerset! For more information about our great deals and financing options, feel free to contact us at 01823 795 437 today.