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  • Writer's pictureEllis Wood ADI

A complete guide to driving in snow and ice

Snowy conditions can make winter driving a real challenge for motorists and can even lead to an accident. That's why it's important to prepare yourself adequately before embarking on a journey in the snow.

If you do need to drive in wintery and snowy conditions then it's worth knowing how to prepare yourself and your car, while also considering different ways to change your driving when faced with these adverse conditions.

Is it illegal to drive with snow on your car? Yes - so remove it from your vehicle before you set off on your next journey.

The following tips can help make the journey safer.

How to prepare before driving in the snow

Plan your journey

Before you set off, plan your journey carefully. Use the a route planner, such as the one used by the RAC, to get updates on traffic news to help make your journey as smooth as possible.

Consider areas that are going to be exposed to the elements, and perhaps prone to flooding. Keep up-to-date with local weather to ensure you aren't caught out.

Give yourself more time for your journey

Allow for more time than you normally would before you leave to clear car windows, mirrors, lights and the top of your roof of snow before setting off, driving with snow on you car could result in you breaking the law.

You will also need to de-ice your windscreen - which is a vital part of winter driving. Pay attention to these tips to keep your windscreen clear.

Knowing how to demist your windscreen in double-quick time can be equally as important.

It’s also a good idea to carry a lock de-icer with you to clear your lock. If your locks do get frozen, try warming the key or spraying de-icer or an oil-based lubricant into the lock.

The following checks will also be time consuming so it is worth factoring them in too before you set off.

Check your windscreen wipers before you start your journey

Make sure any auto wiper control is switched off before turning the ignition on as this could blow the wiper control fuse if they are frozen to the screen. Your wipers need to be in good working order so you’re able to clean your windscreen effectively.

Check your tyres

Check tyres for adequate tread. Poor tyres will not grip when driving on snow and ice.

If you live in an area where snow is common it might be worth changing to winter tyres with deeper tread.

If conditions are really bad you might want to consider the use of snow socks or even snow chains.

Check your screenwash

Use a good quality screenwash that protects down to at least -35 to prevent the water from freezing. If you don’t, your windscreen wipers could be rendered useless in extreme conditions - if you are unsure, you can check and top up your screenwash.

​Pack for the worst

Be prepared for every eventuality by ensuring that your car is equipped with the following: demisting pad, torch (wind-up so you don’t run out of battery), a hi-vis vest to make you visible if you break down, a blanket to keep you warm, some food, a drink, spare screenwash, de-icer, ice scraper, blanket, shovel, phone charger, map, a first aid kit, a warning triangle, some jump leads, a spade and a square of carpet that you can use to put under your drive wheels should you get stuck in the snow. Alternatively, you can buy RAC Recovery Track which will get you out of the snow as well as mud and sand.

The most important thing to take with you before driving in snow is a charged mobile phone with the phone number of your breakdown provider stored in it so you can always call for help.

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