Preparing for winter: motor / 22 January, 2019
Preparing for winter: motor

Unexpected snowfall and treacherously icy roads can cause chaos for drivers. Here are some simple steps to help you for a season of trouble-free driving.

Servicing and maintenance
There is no better time for a service than in the run up to winter; you can have peace of mind in the knowledge that your vehicle has been professionally prepared for the coming months.

Maintenance throughout winter is important, even once a service has been conducted. This should include:

  • Routinely checking the concentration of antifreeze in the coolant system, and bringing it back to the correct winter level
  • Replacing the car battery at the first sign of trouble
  • Replacing any faulty light bulbs immediately
  • Keep at least a quarter of a tank of fuel in case of unexpected delays


  • Regular visual checks will highlight any prominent defects to tyres. Any damage to the tyre walls such as cuts, cracks or bulges should be dealt with immediately as they could lead to slow punctures or blow-outs at high speeds
  • In winter, you should ideally have a minimum tread depth of 3mm, as this helps the car to remove additional surface water on the road. If you have anything less than 2mm remaining on a tyre, it should be replaced immediately
  • Consider installing winter/ all season tyres; they are specifically designed to give you increased grip in winter conditions. In instances of particularly extreme winter weather, snow chains are also worth consideration. Any tyre enhancements must be fitted to the manufacturer’s standards
  • You must not under-inflate tyres; it is a myth that a softer tyre means better grip

Plan for the worst…

You can rest in the knowledge that they are prepared for the worst by stocking your vehicle(s) with the following items:

  • Ice scraper / de-icer spray
  • Powerful torch with spare batteries
  • Reflective triangle
  • First aid kit
  • Warm clothing, shoes and blankets
  • Insurance and broker documents, including any contact information for emergency claim hotlines
  • Bottled water and non-perishable foods
  • Jump leads
  • Snow shovel
  • Tow rope
  • Complete set of replacement light bulbs and you should remember…
  • Always carry a mobile phone and spare batteries

Preparing and driving the car
You should:

  • Allow at least 10 minutes more in the morning to prepare your car
  • Clear all windows of snow and ice, and clear the roof of snow
  • Give extra time for your journey and stick to main roads where possible
  • Always let someone know where you are going, and when you expect to arrive
  • For fleet managers, vehicle tracking tools are available
  • Gentle manoeuvres are the key, particularly when braking
  • Always try to pull away in second gear, and select a higher gear such as third or fourth for travelling downhill
  • In the event of skidding; depress the clutch, steer into the skid and avoid the temptation to brake forcefully
  • Black ice can appear to be just a wet patch, so be wary
  • Always put your safety before punctuality in winter conditions
  • Listen to local traffic reports and heed advice from your local authority or police concerning driving safety