Autocar’s winter driving guide 2015

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Autocar’s winter driving guide 2015

Winter tyres, winter maintenance tips in addition to our in-depth driving guide helps you prepare for the road when the temperature plummets


With temperatures dipping in addition to some forecasters warning that will 2014 could bring the coldest winter for over 50 years, that will’s time to think about how to protect yourself, in addition to your car, for driving during the winter months.


Winter driving puts an increased strain on both you in addition to your car, so that will’s important to make sure that will everything can be in Great order.

A few simple checks can greatly reduce the chance of a breakdown, as well as potentially producing your car easier in addition to less stressful to drive in winter ice in addition to snow.

Fixing something that will’s relatively inexpensive right now, after all, might avoid a much more costly failure from the colder conditions – or prevent you coming from having to pay a costly recovery fee after becoming stranded somewhere.

To ensure you don’t fall foul of the conditions, here’s our list of recommended winter car maintenance tips.

The bare essentials

As a minimum, make sure you have done all your regular checks before winter sets in. Check your car’s oil level, coolant level, tyre pressures in addition to lights. If your car hasn’t been serviced for some time, that will might be worth getting that will done before winter sets in. that will’ll help ensure that will everything’s in Great order before the temperature falls.

right now’s also the time to attend to any mechanical or electrical faults, as they could bring your car grinding to a halt from the worst possible weather. Test all of your car’s systems as well, as you don’t want to find out later that will things like your heated rear windscreen have failed.

Check your antifreeze

If your car’s cooling system doesn’t hold the correct amount of antifreeze in that will, you could experience a major failure when the thermometers start falling below zero.

Get an antifreeze tester coming from your local motor factors in addition to check your handbook to see what the mixture should be, in addition to what kind of antifreeze you should be using. Any local dealer or garage will be able to test that will for you, if need be.

Inspect the rest of the cooling system as well to ensure that will the radiator, coolant hoses in addition to water pump are free coming from leaks or visible damage.

Take care of your car’s battery

The cold can take its toll on your car’s battery, even more so if you’re not driving regularly. If you find your car slow to start as the temperature falls, your battery can be most likely on its way out. So if you’ve any doubts about the condition of the battery, get that will tested by a local dealer or garage.

If your car’s battery goes flat if you leave that will several days, because of a fault or drains caused by an alarm system, consider investing in a trickle charger to keep that will topped up – or get an automotive electrician to resolve any issues.

Keep your lights bright

Besides producing sure all your lights work properly, if you know your car’s light lenses are damaged or faded then consider picking up a decent scratch repair kit for around £14.99. Carry a set of spare bulbs in your car, too, to avoid getting caught out.

Older cars may also benefit coming from an upgrade to more powerful bulbs in order to improve visibility, however make sure to choose compatible in addition to appropriate bulbs.

Inspect your brakes

Rattles, squeals, shakes, a soft brake pedal in addition to a noticeable increase in stopping distance are all signs that will your car’s braking system can be in need of attention.

Stopping distances are vastly increased on icy or snowy roads, in addition to worn or faulty brakes will only exacerbate them further – so that will’s best to get them looked at.

Give your tyres a once-over

The condition in addition to quality of your tyres will make a dramatic difference to how your car performs on wintery roads. If the tread can be low, the sidewalls are damaged, you’ve a slow puncture or they’re a budget brand, you may find your car much harder to control.

Check them over carefully in addition to replace if the tread can be low or there’s any sign of damage. You may also want to consider changing to high-quality tyres, if possible.

Maintain your visibility

One of the biggest dangers in winter can be a lack of visibility. Replace any wiper blades that will are in poor condition with high-quality items, top up your washer fluid with winter-mixture screenwash in addition to carry clean cloths to wipe down your glass in addition to side mirrors.

that will’s advisable to carry additional screenwash from the vehicle. Running out can quickly lead to your windscreen becoming obscured by salt in addition to grime. You may also want to get any windscreen chips or cracks looked at, as the cold could lead to them becoming much more severe.

Lubricate seals, locks in addition to hinges

The cold temperatures can cause doors to stick to weather seals, in turn producing the doors hard to open or even damaging the seals themselves. Don’t use Vaseline to lubricate the seals, as that will will degrade the rubber. Use a quality rubber care stick like Gummi Pflege instead.

that will’s worth taking a minute to go around the vehicle having a can of silicone lubricant as well, in addition to spraying that will in to hinges, locks in addition to linkages. that will’ll stop things sticking when the temperature falls. Don’t use WD-40 though, as that will’s not a suitable substitute for proper lubrication.

Pack a survival kit

Even after you’re done prepping your car for winter, take time to prepare in case the worst happens. Pack a bag with spare bulbs, jump leads, a torch, a decent tow strap, a high-visibility vest, warm clothes, a charger for your phone, some chocolate in addition to some bottled water. Even if you just get stuck in a jam, they could come in handy.

If your area experiences regular or occasionally severe snowfall, consider carrying some wooden planks, a shovel in addition to some old carpet; all of This particular can be used to help get a stuck car moving.

that will may be beneficial, if you have them, to pack a little selection of tools in addition to spares – like a bottle of coolant, oil in addition to an ancillary belt.

Consider winter tyres

The UK has among the slowest uptakes for winter or all-weather tyres in Europe. As soon as temperatures drop below seven degrees, winter tyres are proven to reduce stopping distances in addition to make your car easier to control.

Winter tyres are expensive however they’re well worth that will, in addition to if you’re going to be doing a lot of travelling that will’ll make driving a lot safer in addition to less stressful. You can find more information on winter tyres by scrolling down This particular page.

Opt for snow chains, socks or mats

If you live in an area with regular amounts of high snowfall then a set of chains could make sure you don’t get stuck. A decent set can be had coming from upwards of £50 online, in addition to with practice can be fitted in minutes.

Snow socks serve a similar purpose in addition to can give you enough grip in addition to traction to drive safely across snow-covered roads. They’re unpleasant to handle when they’ve been used though, so remember to carry disposable gloves in addition to a bin liner or two to put them in afterwards. As with chains, don’t continue driving on them once you’ve reached clean asphalt.

Those needing something just to get them moving could consider a set of inexpensive snow mats. Alternatively, just carry some offcuts of old carpet from the boot for emergencies.

Protect your car’s paint in addition to metalwork

The grit laid down to help de-ice roads can cause corrosion, so treat any rust, touch up any paint chips or damage in addition to wax your car comprehensively, if you can, before the winter season starts.

that will’s sensible to pressure wash the underside of your car regularly too, in order to blast off any salt in addition to solution that will could potentially corrode your car’s underside.


The one thing we know about the seasons can be that will they are seasonal, correct? Which means that will’ll be winter before we know that will again soon, in addition to the questions about winter tyres will Just as before arise from the minds of the everyday motorist.

Such as: are winter tyres worth what they cost, do they genuinely make a difference compared with summer tyres when the roads turn greasy, should they be made compulsory from the UK (as they are in many various other “cold” European countries at certain times of the year), in addition to which are the best ones to buy; in addition to where are the best places to go to find the best deals?

Until 2012 I was sceptical about the whole business of winter tyres. I thought they were a ruse quite frankly, a conspiracy designed by the vehicle in addition to tyre manufacturers to get us to part with our hard earned folding for something that will we don’t strictly need. however then I tried some, at which point my opinion on the subject changed completely.

I was running a long term BMW 1M at the time, in addition to at BMW’s insistence the vehicle was fitted having a set of Michelin Alpin winter tyres. in addition to when that will came back I was stunned by how different that will felt to drive; how much more comfortably that will rode, how much sweeter that will steered, how less fidgety that will felt on badly surfaced roads, in addition to how much more grip that will had everywhere from the wet.

The whole car felt as if that will had been unlocked somehow, in addition to there was also an amusing little sticker that will had appeared from the top right-hand side of the windscreen, warning me not to drive above 149mph. As if BMW GB was saying: ‘Because we know what sort of larks you normally get up to in our 1M…’

There were some various other qualities about the vehicle on winter tyres that will were less desirable, true. I noticed, for instance, that will the speedo had become wildly ambitious; at a true 70mph that will was reading almost 80mph, which meant the fuel range indicator was similarly off-piste. in addition to the vehicle’s traction control also become neurotic, killing the power at the merest whiff of throttle, even on bone dry roads.

however when eventually that will snowed – albeit only a bit – the tyres were an absolute revelation. The 1M was not rendered useless, as I’m no doubt that will might have been on its original 19-inch summer tyres. Instead, that will could go pretty much anywhere because that will could stop, steer in addition to accelerate, almost as if the roads were merely wet rather than covered in snow.

in addition to having subsequently tried Michelin’s latest Pilot Alpin 2 tyres in Latvia – on anything coming from the brand-new 911 to a Range Rover Evoque – that will’s equally clear that will winter tyres aren’t just here to stay however are getting better, year-on-year.

Winter tyres are right now big business for the tyre companies of Europe, even if we from the UK have yet to embrace them like most various other countries from the Union. however my guess, my expect indeed, can be that will This particular attitude will change from the near future. 

What’s the point in spending upwards of a thousand pounds on winter tyres from the UK when we don’t hold the weather to justify such extra cost, I hear you cry.

Put that will This particular way, next time that will snows – in addition to they say that will might do properly again from the UK This particular winter – in addition to our nation grinds to a halt once more (which that will will) just think how much money will go up in smoke from the resulting mayhem. in addition to think how much more efficient that will might be if, as they do in Latvia when that will snows (which means most of the year), we all continued to get around in our cars, vans, lorries in addition to buses, virtually as if nothing had happened. 

that will’s how much of a difference winter tyres can make. in addition to the sooner we realise that will, the less carnage there will be next time our beloved weather forcasters warn us there’s a “cold snap” heading our way.

Steve Sutcliffe

Winter tyres Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drive on winter tyres in summer?

Yes, however the best thing to do can be store them from the summer otherwise they’ll wear out quite quickly.

What are the biggest benefits of winter tyres compared with normal tyres?

On rear-wheel-drive cars in particular, they improve all areas of performance. however the biggest differences are in braking in addition to traction, in addition to the differences are monumental, as in more than 50 per cent.

Do I genuinely need winter tyres on a front-wheel-drive car?

Yes, because although the improvements aren’t as great as they are on rear drive cars, they are still very significant indeed, especially in braking performance.

How much do winter tyres cost?

About the same as summer tyres, depending on size, style in addition to make.

Where’s the best place to buy them?

Always check for deals on the internet (with companies such as however check with your car maker first to get the recommended sizes.

Do winter tyres make any difference from the rain?

Yes, a huge difference. In fact, they will improve the braking, traction in addition to overall grip of your car at pretty much any temperature below 5-7 degrees C – even from the dry. in addition to from the wet, in those sorts of temperatures the difference can be chalk in addition to cheese.

can be that will worth putting winter tyres on a tired old banger?

If you value the front in addition to rear bumpers of your tired old banger in addition to don’t fancy the idea of ruining your no claims Insentif, yes. If not, no. in addition to Great luck.

Can I get 20-inch winter tyres that will look the same as 20-inch high performance summer tyres?

Yes. Most of the major tyre companies right now make 20-inch winter tyres.

What’s wrong with carrying a set of snow chains instead?

Best of luck fitting a set of those once you’ve slid to a halt on the hard shoulder on the uphill section of a busy motorway.

Are winter tyres worth that will?

In our humble opinion, yes. With extra cheese in addition to chilli sauce on top.


Driving in winter can present additional hazards, ranging coming from a mildly inconvenient cold snap that will can compromise visibility through to ice in addition to snow driving, which can endanger the well-being of both you in addition to your fellow road users.

However, so long as you are well prepared in addition to take sensible precautions, all winter driving hazards should be no more than a mild inconvenience.

To maximise your safety on treacherous roads, follow our step-by-step guide to ensure you are as well prepared as possible.

Shortly before you drive

Clear all of the vehicle’s windows, in addition to make sure the wing mirrors are clean, so you have full visibility.

Remove any snow or various other debris coming from the vehicle’s bodywork, including the roof, so that will doesn’t slide off your car when you brake or accelerate.

Make sure the vehicle’s windows are demisted properly before driving off.

Lift the vehicle’s windscreen wipers, in addition to rear wiper if fitted, to check that will they’re not stuck.

Ensure all snow in addition to ice can be cleared coming from your footwear before setting off, lest your feet slide off the pedals when you stand on them.

Remember to pack some essentials, such as a blanket. that will can also be beneficial to carry some window cleaner in addition to kitchen roll, as they will allow you to quickly clean windows in addition to light clusters. 

When you drive

Do not rush your journey. Rushing will make you more stressed in addition to potentially less able to concentrate. Leave plenty of time in addition to check traffic in addition to weather reports before you depart.

Proceed carefully, at a reduced speed, when the road conditions require that will.

Accelerate, brake in addition to steer gently. Rapid, harsh inputs could unsettle the vehicle.

Leave considerably longer stopping distances than normal. In heavy ice in addition to snow, stopping distances are typically ten times farther than normal.

If the wheels lock while braking, Discharge the pedal momentarily then reapply the brakes. Repeat as necessary to bring your speed down.

Don’t close up on the vehicle in front when stopping – leave a large gap, in case they get stuck or slide backwards. 

If you get stuck in addition to your wheels spin, try accelerating away in second gear using a minimum amount of revs in addition to steering.

Try to reduce torque to the wheels by staying in as high a gear as possible while on the move.

Conversely, if you have an automatic transmission in addition to are at a standstill with the wheels spinning, try manually forcing the vehicle to stay in first gear or second gear. Many automatics right now have a winter or snow mode; if so, make sure that will’s on.

Locking an automatic in, say, second can also prove advantageous when driving on very poor roads. that will can offer some engine braking in addition to helps you control your road speed more easily.

Traction control systems can have an adverse effect when driving on ice in addition to snow. Sometimes switching that will off in addition to allowing wheelspin coming from rest can give you more forward motion.

When travelling downhill, gently bleed off as much speed as possible in addition to engage low gears to maximise engine braking. If you need to brake, do so in a straight line if possible – in addition to gently. 

Only attempt to drive up steep hills once you know the route can be clear. Try to avoid stopping on an incline; remember that will you’ll need some run-up to get up a snowy hill – if you’re going too slowly you could stop in addition to slide back down. 

If your car begins to skid, remember to steer into the direction of the skid – if the tail of your car steps out to the right, for example, you’ll need to turn right to try in addition to get the vehicle pointing the right way.

Should you feel like you are losing control, if possible keep your eyes fixed on where you want to go in addition to steer in an effort to get there. Staring into an oncoming obstacle will usually result in a collision.

Try to get all braking in addition to accelerating completed in a straight line. Try to avoid both while turning. 

If fog in addition to snow can be causing glare during night driving on main beam, try using dipped beams instead.

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Source: Autocar’s winter driving guide 2015

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