Winter weather driving checklist and guides

Now the nights are drawing in and the roads are increasingly covered in either water, ice or snow, it’s time to think about how to winter-proof your car.
Side view of car covered in snowy conditions

Click on and print out our guide to preparing for snowy conditions this winter:

Winter driving checklist

One of the most important things you can do before you set out on a journey this winter is to thoroughly check your vehicle before you set off and make sure you have the following items in your car.
  • Ice scraper and de-icer
  • Torch and spare batteries - or a wind-up torch
  • Warm clothes and blankets - for you and all passengers
  • Boots
  • First aid kit
  • Jump start cables
  • Food and a warm drink in a thermos
  • Shovel
  • Reflective warning sign
  • Road atlas
  • Sunglasses - the glare off the snow can be dazzling
  • Mobile phone charger

Your car battery

The RAC attends more call-outs for flat batteries in the winter than for any other problem. It is recommended that you check your battery at least once a week and charge it if required.

Engine Coolant

Ensure that coolant is between the minimum and maximum markers. It is also important that there is sufficient anti-freeze in the coolant during winter. If you're uncertain, have a look at your handbook or get a local garage to check the strength. Anti-freeze is cheap but damage from a frozen engine can be very expensive to put right.

Watch the RAC winter driving video below on how to check your engine coolant.

Winter tyres

Check the condition of your tyres to make sure if the tyre thread is deep enough. Look for damage such as splits or bulges and check the pressure. If you live in an area particularly at risk of snow consider buying winter tyres or snow socks which give your vehicle greater traction and control.

Watch the RAC winter driving video below on how to check your tyre tread.

Car screenwash

Make sure you have enough screenwash and that the concentration is suitable for cold conditions during the winter. Not all screenwash is the same so look for the temperature it protects down to. You should be looking for protection down to -35c at dilution one part screenwash to one part water.

Watch the RAC winter driving video below on how to check your screenwash.

Wiper blades

Check wiper blades for damage and replace if necessary. When wiper blades become frozen to glass in the winter it is very easy to damage them when freeing them up.

Staying safe when you're on the road

  • If warming your car up, do not leave it unattended with the keys in the ignition. Many cars are stolen this way by opportunist thieves each year.
  • Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  • Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  • Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.

Car breakdown cover

Having breakdown cover is invaluable if you break down in bad winter weather. With MORE TH>N car insurance you can add RAC breakdown services when you buy a policy. Take your breakdown telephone help-line number and mobile phone with you on all journeys.

Check the traffic reports

Before setting off its worth spending some time planning your route and checking to see if there are any problems with it.

Check the winter weather reports

It might sound obvious, but if the weather becomes treacherous, you should only start out on a journey if it really necessary. A good place to start is the Met Office website.
(originally posted on 12/01/2013)

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