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Driving in Snow and Ice

Did you know, stopping distances are 10x longer in ice and snow? It’s important to use gentle manoeuvres and caution when driving in icy conditions. Here is some advice if you have to drive whilst the weather is icy or snowy:

  1. Before you set off, you have to be able to see clearly. Scrape off all ice and de-mist your windscreen. It sounds like a simple step, but it’s surprising how many people are in a rush and don’t do this. If your windscreen is not free of snow, dirt or stickers you can be fined! If you have to clear snow off your vehicle, make sure you don’t forget the lights. Make sure to allow yourself the extra time before you leave to do this.

  2. If you have to drive in these conditions, make sure you take an emergency pack with you containing an ice scraper, warm clothing & shoes, a warm drink (in a flask), first aid kit and (if it is really snowing) a shovel.

  3. Check your roadside assistance is up to date and you are covered.

  4. Before starting your car, make sure electrical loads such as heated windscreens, lights etc are off. If your engine doesn’t start, wait thirty seconds between attempts. For many people who own classic cars, they might not get used as often in the winter. If this is the case, try to give the car a regular, overnight trickle charge.

  5. Antifreeze only costs a few pounds, but a frozen and cracked engine can cost a lot more to repair! In winter you should use a 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water. If you have a modern car, these mostly use long-life antifreeze. Do make sure you use the right type as some types of antifreeze need changing after only two years.

  6. Use an additive in your screen-wash to reduces the chances of it freezing.

  7. If you are in a manual, pull away in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel spins.

  8. When driving uphill, leave a good gap between you and the car in front. Drive at a constant speed and choose the most suitable gear so you don’t have to change going downhill.

  9. When driving downhill, try to reduce your speed before the hill, use a low gear and if possible, try to avoid using the brakes. Again, leave a good gap between you and the car in front.

  10. If you do have to use the brakes, don’t slam them on, as this can cause your car to skid. Apply them gently.

  11. If you are driving an automatic in wet, icy and snowy conditions it is best to select 2 which limits gear changes and makes you less reliant on the brakes. Some automatics do have a winter mode which locks out first gear to reduce wheel spin. Check your vehicle’s handbook for information.

  12. Drive particularly slowly on bends, where you are more likely to lose control of your vehicle. Brake progressively on the straight before you reach a bend. Once you have slowed down sufficiently, steer smoothly round the bend, avoiding sudden actions.

  13. Tyre-wise, it is recommended to have at least a 3mm tread in winter. Please, please DO NOT let air out of your tyres to gain more grip. Not only doesn’t it work, it is also unsafe! Some people like to have special winter tyres; speak to your garage to get advice.

  14. For information on what to do when you get stuck, our other blog – What to do if your car is stuck in ice or snow – will be coming soon!

We offer a free winter vehicle check and can also provide the required services to go with this, from servicing to tyre-fitting. Call us on 01842 763841 or email us at to book your car in today. We offer a 5% discount on labour to MGCC members, MGOC members and MGWW members (proof required).

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