Driver Guide

Winter driving tips

01 / 12 / 2023  |  Driver Guides

Mastering winter driving
Intelligent tips for safer journeys

With winter fast approaching, the unpredictable weather and challenging road conditions can be difficult and often need more attention.

This article is designed to equip you with the knowledge to navigate the colder months with confidence. We’ll explore the essential steps to prepare your vehicle for winter, understand the impact of cold weather on electric vehicles (EVs), discuss how you can reduce the chance of breakdowns, and debunk common winter driving myths.

Front facing VW positioned in winter landscape
Preparing your car for winter

Before we go through the specifics of driving in winter conditions, it’s vital to ensure that your vehicle is ready to face the colder months. The first steps when preparing for winter are:

Checking your tyres

Make sure your tyres have sufficient tread depth and are correctly inflated. The 20p coin test is a quick and easy way of checking your tyre tread. Take a 20p coin and insert it into the tread groove, if you can’t see the outer band on the coin, your tyres are above the legal limit.

Person using 20p coin to test tyre tread depth
Create a winter
emergency kit

Prepare for the unexpected by assembling a winter emergency kit. Be sure to include items like blankets, a flashlight, non-perishable food, and first aid supplies.

Emergency first aid kit
Examining your brakes

Ensure your brakes are in excellent working condition. Icy roads demand efficient braking systems.

Car driving in wintery conditions
Monitor fluid levels

Cold weather can affect your vehicle’s fluids. Check the levels of oil, coolant, and windshield washer fluid. Use winter-grade windshield washer fluid to prevent freezing.

Windscreen of a car in rainy conditions

Winter tyres

You could also consider switching to winter tyres for enhanced traction.

EV range

If you’re driving an EV, the colder temperatures can affect your range. However, you can take steps to mitigate the effects by:

Understanding the impact on range

The battery’s efficiency is reduced in the cold, causing shorter travel distances on a single charge.

EV charging in winter conditions
Preconditioning your vehicle

Most modern EVs allow you to precondition the cabin while the vehicle is still charging. This helps maintain a comfortable temperature without draining the battery. 

Tesla driving in snow
Planning any charging stops

Plan your routes with charging stations in mind, especially on longer journeys. Cold weather can increase charging time due to slower battery performance.

Public charging points
Practicing efficient driving

Maximise your EVs efficiency by driving conservatively and avoiding rapid acceleration or high speeds.

Car driving on winter road
Money saving winter driving tips

Winter can be harsh on your wallet, with increased fuel consumption and maintenance costs. Discover some money-saving strategies for efficient winter driving that could also reduce your environmental footprint during the winter season.

Keep a steady speed 
Sudden acceleration and deceleration can increase fuel consumption. Drive at a steady pace to conserve fuel.

Reduce idling time
Idling consumes fuel unnecessarily. Turn off your engine when you’re parked for extended periods.

Keep your vehicle light 
Remove unnecessary weight from your vehicle. Extra weight impacts fuel efficiency.

Monitor tyre pressure 
Properly inflated tyres reduce rolling resistance, which in turn improves fuel economy.

Drink driving

As the holiday season approaches, it’s essential to address the critical issue of drink driving. We’ll provide guidance on how to enjoy the festivities responsibly.

Plan ahead 
Before attending a holiday party, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation.

Use rideshare services 
Consider using rideshare services or taxis if you’ve been drinking. It’s a small cost compared to the potential consequences of drink driving.

Encourage responsible drinking 
If you’re hosting a party, promote responsible alcohol consumption and offer non-alcoholic options for designated drivers.

Know your limit 
Understand your alcohol tolerance and don’t push it. Even small amounts of alcohol can impair your ability to drive safely.

Watch for others
Be aware of other drivers on the road, and if you suspect someone is under the influence, report it to the authorities.

Reducing the chance of breakdown

By investing in proper vehicle maintenance, you not only reduce the chances of a breakdown but also enhance safety during your winter journeys. This includes:

Regular servicing 
Schedule a thorough winter service for your vehicle, focusing on the engine, brakes, and electrical systems. A professional check can uncover issues before they occur.

Fluids and antifreeze 
Check all fluid levels regularly and use the right antifreeze for your vehicle. Make sure the antifreeze used is at the recommended concentration.

Inspect lights
Winter means reduced daylight hours. Ensure all your vehicle’s lights are working correctly. This includes headlights, taillights, and indicators.

Debunking winter driving myths

There are plenty of myths about winter driving that can lead to dangerous practices. We’ll set the record straight with facts and expert insights.

AWD helps with traction but doesn’t guarantee safety on icy roads. You still need winter tyres for optimal grip.

Like AWD, 4WD can enhance traction, but driving cautiously can help prevent accidents.

Overinflating tyres can actually reduce traction. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended tyre pressure.

Modern engines don’t need extended warm-up periods. A few minutes are usually sufficient.

volvo 4x4 side view

By preparing your vehicle, understanding the differences of electric vehicles in winter, and considering preventive maintenance, you can reduce the chances of breakdowns and save yourself some money.

Lastly, it’s important to plan ahead and make responsible choices to keep our roads safe this winter.