Top winter driving preparation tips

When the cold winter weather draws in, your car is probably the last thing on your mind. Well... it shouldn’t be. Not only is your car an essential part of life, it’s at its most vulnerable during the winter. 

The tyres, the engine, the brakes, the battery and even the windscreen wipers can be affected in cold weather. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, sleeting, snowing or it’s just plain cold, your car needs an extra bit of TLC during the winter months to ensure it continues to run smoothly. Here are some essential checks that must be carried out on your vehicle so it’s ready for the winter; we’ve also provided a list of accessories and items you will need before commencing any journey.

  • Car battery – the battery is more often than not the main culprit for any breakdown during the winter. It may be that your car hasn’t been used for a long time or the battery could need charging. If your battery is over three years old, it’s best to get it checked anyway. Make sure when you leave your car that you switch off all lights and windscreen wipers. Disconnect satnavs, iPods, or any other device as these can drain the battery too. Also avoid using heaters longer that you need to as these put extra demand on your battery.

  • Coolant and anti-freeze – ensure your coolant is between the minimum and maximum lines. Then you will need to check that there is sufficient anti-freeze in the coolant. If you are unsure, look in your handbook or take it to a local garage to test the strength. A frozen engine can be very expensive to repair so it’s essential that you have plenty of anti-freeze to prevent this happening.

  • Tyres – during the winter, nothing takes more of a battering that the tyres. It doesn’t matter what the conditions are, the tyres are always wearing. Check there is adequate tread on all of your tyres and there are no splits or bulges and make sure the air pressure is correct. If you live in an area that is subjected to serious snow, you may want to look at purchasing winter tyres or snow socks which provide greater traction and control. 

  • Screenwash – you must ensure that the screenwash is topped up at all times, especially during winter, and particularly when the gritters are out, so you can see clearly through your windscreen. Check that you have the correct concentration of screenwash for cold weather conditions and have a look at the information on the bottle to see what temperature the screenwash is protected to. If you don’t have a good quality screenwash, the washer pump could freeze and you could blow a fuse, which could result in your windscreen wipers not working (they are usually on the same fuse).

  • Windscreen wipers – Before commencing any journey during winter, always have a look at the condition of your windscreen wipers and replace them if they are damaged. As rain, sleet, ice and snow are likely, the wipers must been in good condition to work. Don’t be tempted to use them to disperse and snow or ice as this may damage them. They can also freeze to the glass so be sure to use de-icer or your windscreen heater to remove the ice or snow. Do not use hot water or anything other than an ice scraper to remove ice or snow as this could cause windscreen glass to crack or become scratched. 

  • Oil level – oil should be checked regularly and oil consumption has been known to increase in cold weather. If oil levels are too low, it can cause significant damage to the engine and other parts of your car.

  • Brakes – during winter, heavy rainfall, icy roads and thick snow can cause havoc. This is when you need your brakes most, so ensuring they’re in prime condition is a must. Consider a full brake check, as many garages offer these free of charge.

  • Lights – when dark mornings and evenings descend, it’s shrewd to check all your lights are in order working. Bad winter weather can affect visibility, especially in heavy rain or snow. Driving becomes more difficult on icy roads and it’s prudent for drivers to keep a safe distance...and you need to be seen! Make sure your headlights, brake lights and fog lights are all working properly before travelling.

Now we have given you a maintenance checklist, you also need to think about items to take with you before commencing a journey. You never know if you are going to break down or get stuck in bad weather, so it’s a good idea to be prepared. Here is your list of the kit you need before you set off!


  • Ice scraper and de-icer

  • Extra screenwash

  • Torch

  • Gloves and hats

  • Winter boots

  • First aid kit

  • Jump start cables

  • Shovel

  • Satnav or map

  • In-car phone charger

  • Snow socks

  • Snow chains


By taking all of these items with you, you’ll be prepared for the worst case scenario. 



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