Winter Driving Tips and Myths



Winter Driving Tips and Myths is a paid collaborative post with ATS Euromaster as part of their Winter Driving Myths Challenge but all thoughts and findings are my own.  Now is the perfect time to get your vehicle ready for the cold weather. If you don’t know we live in a pretty rural area and the husbeast travels a lot so we have learned the hard way the importance of making sure our cars are safe and reading before the temperature drops and road conditions become more dangerous. 

A car with the focus on two tires on a snowy road with trees in the back ground covered in snow.

Winter Driving Myths

Before we get to the winter driving tips, it was time to do some myth busting. I admit that I have fallen for some of these winter driving myths over the years.  I am going to put that down to being late to driving (I was pregnant with Mini when I passed my test)! I put the following questions to my social media followers to see what they thought and to see if I could teach them some tips for safer winter driving.

1) You can mix winter tyres with summer or all-season tires for the best effect. 

Over 80% of my instagram followers were spot on with this.

FALSE – You need to have four tires of the same type to ensure balance and good control your vehicle.

1) You can be fined for leaving the engine running while you’re defrosting your car. 

We had a 60/40 split on this leaning towards true, but also that it was OK as long as it was on your own drive and not on the street!

TRUE – you are not allowed to leave your car running whilst you are defrosting it even on your drive. If your car is stollen (and I believe that thieves actually keep an eye out for people doing this) then you might not be covered by insurance.

2) It is recommended to de-ice your car using hot water. 

I have wise followers and over 95% thought this was false and the ones that thought it was OK had seen a viral video of someone filling up a ziplock bag of hot water and using it to defrost their windscreen by rubbing it over has influenced so many people and one follower even suggested just boiling the kettle and pouring it over!

FALSE – The extreme temperature change can crack or shatter the glass, so resorting to hot water to fix your frost issue simply isn’t worth the risk no matter how much time it could save you.  

3). Driving with more lights on will help you when it is snowing. 

Only 20% of my Instagram followers thought this was true. The majority of people said that dipped headlights are fine and whilst others said they use their fog lights in heavy snow.

FALSE – When driving in poor visibility using main beam or extra lights is unlikely to help and dimmed headlights iare more than enough to see (and be seen by) other vehicles. Unless you are in a white out (where it would be sensible to pull over until it eases off) do not use your fog lights as they can be confused with brake lights at a distance and are designed to be used in thick fog.

4) You can be fined for leaving the engine running while you’re defrosting your car. 

We had a 60/40 split on this leaning towards true, but also that it was OK as long as it was on your own drive and not on the street!

TRUE – you are not allowed to leave your car running whilst you are defrosting it even on your drive. If your car is stollen (and I believe that thieves actually keep an eye out for people doing this) then you might not be covered by insurance.

5) Steering into a skid means steering the way your car is skidding. 

Three quarters of respondents thought that this was true.

FALSE – It means to steer gently into the direction you want to go by looking into the direction you want to go in with your hands firmly on the steering wheel (not necessarily the same way you are skidding). You need to not oversteer or be too jerky or hasty as you might end up overcorrecting and going into a skid the other way. Also make sure that you do not have your foot on the accelerator to reduce the speed.

Winter Driving Tips

During winter the number of accidents on the road increase by 20% and ATS Euromaster wants to help improve the knowledge of drivers to keep you and your passengers as safe as possible. These winter driving tips are easy to follow and will make a big difference.

Install Winter tires on your car. Not only do they help with traction and grip when the outside temperature drops below 7c, but they also mean shorter braking distance, which is brilliant and assists your anti-lock brakes.  All these things are key for safe winter driving.  

Learn how to steer out of a skid safely and automatically take your foot off the accelerator pedal if you go into a skid. 

Take extra care in wintry driving conditions, remember to slow down in wet or icy conditions and not to worry if that means driving under the posted speed limits or getting stressed if a car pulls too close to you.  Also, keep an eye out for snowploughs and gritters and don’t get too close to them. 

Be prepared. Check your tire pressures and tire treads regularly (minimum of 3mm tread remaining) and also the condition of your windshield wipers, you want efficient wiper blades in heavy snow. Do any repairs to your car before the winter season and make sure the brakes are not worn.  Make sure your window defrosters are working. 

Lights – Keep them clean and carry spare bulbs. Check your fog lights and brake lights are working too

Coolant – Check the levels regularly, if it’s especially cold, top-up with a mixture of antifreeze

Seat belts – make sure that there are no twists in the seatbelts.

Set off with a full fuel tank (or gas tank for my American friends) – you defiantly do not want to run out of fuel in the snow.  

Get to know your brakes and keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.  Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) help you steer in emergencies by restoring traction to your tires and is standard on most new vehicles as well.

Try to avoid stopping in the snow.  There is a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it. 

If you are stuck make sure the exhaust pipe is clean of snow and ice. You don’t want carbon monoxide to leak into the car.

If you are stuck at night keep the internal or dome light on, if possible, it only uses a small amount of battery power and it will make it easier for people to find you. 

Winter Emergency Kit

Both the husbeast and I have winter emergency kits and believe it or not they have been used. What do we include in the kit?

  • Blankets – Yes, we carry two a wool one for warmth, should we get stranded and an inexpensive fleece one (I have used this under my tires in the snow to get traction and get the car up a hill and just left it). `if you are stranded make staying warm a priority and use is available (even floor mats or newspapers).
  • Flashlight – again super important and mine is rechargeable from the car cigarette lighter point. 
  • Retractable Snow Shovel – I have a small car and a regular shovel would take up space, so I have a plastic retractable one.
  • Kitty litter – Unusual perhaps, but it is great for using instead of the fleece to give traction on snow. 
  • First Aid Kit – This is in my car all year round, but I check all the use by dates when I pop my winter emergency kit in the car.
  • Gloves – I like to add ski gloves in my emergency pack as if I have to dig out the car my fingers freeze, also perfect for keeping warm in the car until rescue arrives (If needed).
  • Non-perishable food – again something I have in the car all year round (well I have kids), check the dates when adding the emergency kit. I like to have cereal bars, protein bars, dried fruit and nuts. 
  • Windshield washer fluid – I make sure I have some extra in as I defiantly wash my windows more in the winter due to the salt and dirt on the roads.  Wiper fluid in a winter mix with Antifreeze is essential as it will not freeze in the boot during winter.
  • Ice Scraper – being a shortie I have one with an extendable handle and a brush on the other end, so I can use it to brush snow off the car before I drive anywhere. 
  • If you want to be super safe, especially if you regularly drive off the grid, then warning devices such as a pack of flares or emergency markers to pop on your radio, cables (or a spare battery of yours is over 5 years old) and a spare mobile phone charger.
  • Medication – If anyone you travel with takes regular medication then make sure you have some extra in the car.
  • A Book – If you are stuck on snow, you don’t want to be permanently on your phone as you will want to conserve battery, so a good book will help keep you busy.  Make sure you have something for everyone on the journey.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.