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Winter Driving Tips


Winter Driving Tips

Few of us have much experience of driving in severe winter conditions. To help drivers, car hire price comparison site Carrentals.co.uk highlights key tips on how to stay safe in potentially treacherous snow and ice:

Create Space

If there is snow, ice or even heavy rain, you should increase the distance you usually leave between your car and the one ahead – in wet weather the stopping distance doubles and in snow and ice you should at least triple the distance.

Buckle Up

This is the law in most countries, so it is important to always remember to wear your seatbelt in the front and ensure that all passengers wear seatbelts, even those traveling in the back of the car. When renting cars abroad be sure to check the local laws pertaining to seatbelt use, in order to avoid fines.

Be Seen

Always keep your headlights clean and in winter weather conditions keep them on even if it seeems no one else on the road has theirs on. Be careful when using fog lights or full beams in heavy snow, as they will create unnecessary glare.

Snow Chains

If you’re going to be hiring a car to drive in potentially snowy conditions, book your snow chains when you book your car hire to ensure you’re covered. It’s also worth practicing putting them on and taking them off during the day, rather than waiting until you may need to put them on at night.

Change Gears

Reduce the risk of sliding and wheel spin, particularly when pulling away or going up hill, by putting the car into a higher gear than you would for normal dry conditions. For example, pulling away in second gear can help keep a firm grip on on ice or packed snow.

Slow Down

On corners, slow down well before you normally would and ensure your speed is low enough to prevent you losing traction. You should also avoid any sharp steering movements that may cause the car to slide.

Anticipate Braking

The best way to avoid a skid is to anticipate braking – any sudden braking will make the car skid on snow or ice. To brake, gradually alternate engine braking with pedal braking to avoid the locking of wheels. If the wheels lock when you brake and the car starts to slide release the brake pedal to help recover traction, then brake again slowly while also braking with the engine.

Carry the Essentials

In bad conditions always think about whether your journey is essential, but if you do need to travel, try to make sure you take certain essential items with you. It is a good idea to put items such as a tow rope, spare fuel, shovel, hazard warning triangle, spare bulbs, spare wheel, jump leads, an emergency tyre weld cannister, wellington boots and a high visibility jacket into the boot of your car at the start of the winter and leave them there throughout the duration of the bad weather period. It is also a good idea to pack the following items in your car in case of emergency: a car blanket, working torch, first aid equipment, de-icing equipment and a fire extinguisher. Check on all equipment regularly to ensure that it is in full working order.


If your car starts to skid don’t go for the brakes. Take your foot off the accelerator and steer into the direction of the skid until the car is under control – again make sure you steer with smooth, rather than abrupt, movements. Remember that the chances of skidding are higher if your tyres are at the wrong depth. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. if you are unsure how to check this, get it done by a professional.

Stuck in a Rut

If your car gets stuck in snow don’t continue spinning your wheels – as this will make it harder to get out of the rut. Spread sand or salt around the wheels to give them grip – or remove snow from around the wheels to create a clear run onto the road.

Disclaimer: These tips are not exhaustive and are for information only. Carrentals.co.uk can not be held responsible for any losses incurred as a result of acting on any information contained herein.

For further information visit www.michelin.co.uk or www.rac.co.uk