Dark mornings, cold weather, rain, sleet, and snow. Winter throws a lot at drivers and it can often be the most demanding on your car. So, to ensure that you are well prepared, here are some helpful tips for driving in winter.
In the season of winter colds, don't drive with a cold if you're feeling unwell and are on any medicine that could make you drowsy. It could affect your reaction times.
Before you set off:
- Roads may not be gritted, and there might be additional slower-moving traffic, so ensure you allow extra time for your journeys.
- When commuting to work, set your alarm for slightly earlier than you would normally, to give yourself extra time to de-ice the car.
- Wear comfortable, dry shoes for driving so your feet don't slip on the pedals.
- Check fuel or energy levels – have additional fuel in the tank than you need (or additional charge for EVs) in case of any unexpected delays or road diversions.
- Ensure all windows are clear of ice and mist before setting off – especially side windows and mirrors.
Driving on winter roads
- If you drive a manual you may benefit by pulling away in second gear, to avoid potential wheel-spin.
- When braking – apply progressive gently pressure – avoid any heavy/harsh applications
- If you need to drive up or down steep hills, ensure you leave a safe distance between you and surrounding cars to avoid the need of stopping part way. Momentum can play a big part in winter driving. Ideally, ensure the road is clear.
- Headlights must be used when visibility is reduced. But remember, if you use fog lights (front or rear), remember to switch them off once visibility improves.
If you get stuck in snow or ice
- If you get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels.
- Put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some grip.
- If you have an accident, call MG First
What to check on your car:
- Ensure that all exterior lights are working and the light beam is unaffected – clear any snow or dried road dirt from the lenses (depending on the weather, you may have to do this after every journey).
- Ensure that your windows are clear of any snow or ice externally, or internal condensation or mist. Simply wiping the front and driver and passenger front windows is not sufficient – all windows must be clear. You could face a fine for obscured windows.
- Don’t use warm or hot water to clear the screen. Warm or hot water straight onto a frozen screen can crack the glass and then you’ll require a replacement which could be costly.
- All MG models come with Air Conditioning. Ensure that you have this switched on as this will clear mist quicker and will reduce the chance of condensation.
- Make sure that your wipers are not split and effectively clear the screen. It’s also worth lifting them from a frozen screen before you get in the car – this can avoid overworking the wiper motor/linkage mechanism when they are frozen to the screen.
- Avoid using the wipers to clear snow and ice. Ice is abrasive to wiper rubber and will cause premature aging and wear on the wiper blades, meaning they’ll be less effective when needed.
- Ensure that your windscreen washer fluid is kept topped up with suitable screenwash (and diluted to the correct levels). Effective screenwash will help keep your windscreen clear of road salts and won’t freeze as easily in cold weather.
- Number plates should not be obscured by dirt or ice and kept clean and visible – you could face a fine otherwise.
- Tyres should be inflated correctly. Tyre pressures can be found in the owners handbook.
- Winter tyres are not mandatory in the UK, but widely sold and a great addition to tackle poor road conditions.
- Whilst the minimum legal tyre tread depth limit is 1.6mm, we recommend at least 3mm of tread for the winter. Remember, the small contact patch of your tyres on the tarmac, are the only thing connecting you to the road – so you want it in the best condition possible.
- If you need new tyres, speak to your local MG Dealer.
- You should clear any snow from the roof. If can fall off causing an issue for following cars, or under breaking could slide onto your windscreen causing you to lose sight in front – drivers have previously been penalised and fined for not clearing excessive snow on the roof.
- Check your antifreeze/coolant – it should be between ‘min’ and ‘max’ and should be diluted to a 50/50 mix. This will ensure that its suitable to -34°C. We recommend its replacement every 4 years or 60,000 miles.
Avoid a breakdown in winter
- Wintertime always places a higher reliance on your 12v vehicle battery with lights, wipers, and heating demands. Here are some tips to prevent a flat battery in winter:
- Start the engine (have the vehicle in ready mode for EVs), before turning on electrical loads such as lights, heated rear window and wipers
- If the engine doesn't start quickly, wait before reattempting, otherwise you risk ‘flooding’ the engine.
Carry the essentials in your car
We would recommend against long drives in poor weather conditions, but if you need to travel long distances then the following essentials could prove useful on a long journey – just in case:
- Ice scraper
- Torch and spare batteries
- First aid kit
- a fully-charged mobile phone (and perhaps a spare power bank)
- Warm clothes and high visibility jacket
- A snack in case you get stuck
- Jump leads
- Warning triangle