Winter driving checklist


Before you drive off in your car this winter, spend ten minutes reading about your winter driving checklist and learn from my mistakes. I will outline the essential driving checklist and detail the equipment that you must have in your car this winter.

Then spend fifteen minutes checking and preparing your car for winter: doing it now is preferable to spending hours freezing by the side of the road, waiting for your recovery services to arrive – trust me! Remember, your car manual has lots of information and help if you need it.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation!


As a bare minimum you should have at least 3 millimetres of tread on every tyre. Every week, when you carry out your car check, you need to check that they are at the correct pressures, before setting off.

If you live somewhere where you regularly experience snow or icy conditions, then you may wish to consider fitting ‘winter tyres’. Most European countries (except the UK and Scotland), expect drivers to switch their car tyres to winter ones before November each year.


If you don’t have a spare bulb set, then buy a set and store it somewhere safe in your car (in the glove box?). Remember to check all your lights are operating once a week – if a bulb is not working then change it immediately and don’t put it off.

Before you drive off, especially if there has been snowfall, ensure that you clear all of the snow and dirt from every light including the parking lights and your indicators. If others can’t see your bulbs, how will they know if you are signalling, braking or reversing?


In colder weather conditions, your car battery works even harder and may not like starting in the cold mornings. For those of you with an older car, or an older battery, this can cause it to drain faster than usual. Try to ensure your battery is fully charged, and if you need a new one, then get it fitted before winter begins.


As part of your weekly car checks, you should already be checking the anti-freeze and screen wash levels.

Add anti-freeze to the cooling system to protect your car radiator (or engine block) from cracking in the freezing temperatures.


With salt on the roads, your windscreen can quickly become opaque, so remember to add screen wash regularly. Check the recommendations made by the anti-freeze and screen wash manufacturers, but adding 100% concentration of a solution will caters for temperatures as low as -20 degrees.

  • Also check your wiper blades are not worn or damaged. If they are leaving smears across your windscreen, it’s time for new blades.
  • Clean the windows, inside and out, and wipe the lamp lenses and door mirrors.

Fuel – Diesel, Petrol or Electric?

Fill me up! In European countries, it is illegal to run out of fuel on the motorway. Don’t gamble or think that the winter is the best time to play Petrol Station Roulette. Make sure that you have more than enough fuel in your tank for your journey – and keep it regularly topped up. If you get stranded, you will use plenty of fuel keeping your engine running and keeping you warm inside the vehicle.


Has your car passed its MOT? As part of the test, a brake test is carried out to assess the condition of your brakes. Even if your car passed the MOT, if you need new brake discs or pads, then replace them, before winter arrives. Stopping distances are vastly increased on slippery icy and snowy roads – a healthy set of brake pads is vital for the winter months.

Winter Survival Kit:

If you have to drive in wintry conditions, you can always leave the house with a warm flask of coffee (or soup), food, water and appropriate clothing for the conditions. But what should you have permanently in your car, ready for the winter conditions?

  • Spare bulb set,
  • A can of de-icer,
  • An ice scraper,
  • Vehicle breakdown membership details,
  • Mobile phone (and charger),
  • Hat, gloves and scarf,
  • A blanket or sleeping blanket,
  • Spare clothing (put layers on to keep you warm),
  • A small shovel (in snow, old carpet pieces can give traction under tyres),
  • Jump leads,
  • A torch and
  • Bottles of water and supplies of food for energy (chocolate, nuts).

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