Summit Driving School

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Home Dealing with Snow

Dealing with Snow

Driving in severe winter weather poses many challenges. Cars can get stuck in snowy conditions even on familiar roads, forcing the driver and passengers to spend the night on the roadside.

Here are some advise on what you can do to avoid unnecessary problem should you have to make a journey in icy/snowy condition.

Before the Journey:

Tyres: Ensure your tyres are inflated correctly and that you have a minimum of 3mm of tread on your tyres to cope with wet and slippery conditions.

Battery: In winter, the battery will run down quicker than in warmer weather. Make sure you do a regular long journey to top it up or trickle-charge the battery. Modern engines are more robust than older ones. All the same, depress the clutch when starting, as this will reduce drag on the engine when starting, and preserve the battery.

Screen wash: Keep this topped up and use a proper additive at the right concentration to prevent it freezing.

Fuel: Keep your tank topped up - that way if you are caught out, you'll have enough fuel to make it home or run the engine to keep warm. However, it's essential to keep snow from blocking the exhaust as noxious fumes can leak into the vehicle.

 Windows: Ensure that all windows are completely free from ice and snow before moving the vehicle. Do not use water to de-ice windscreens. Hot water can crack the glass, and the water will only freeze again on the screen or on the ground where you are standing. Set dashboard air inlets towards door windows to maintain visibility to door mirrors.


Warm clothing: Your car may be as warm as toast on the inside but if you have to step outside, you could be in trouble if you have not got any warm clothing with you.


Always pack the following: warm coat, hat, gloves, sturdy boots, a blanket to keep you warm if you get stuck. Take some food, chocolate, biscuits, water and a hot drink if you can. Always carry a fully charged mobile, and some old bit of carpet, or cat litter, to put under the tyres when stuck and a shovel to clear snow.


When Driving:

  • Avoid harsh braking, accelerating or coarse steering, as these driver actions can lead to skids.
  • Drive in the highest gear as soon as possible but ensure the choice of gear offers engine retardation when the accelerator is released; this is particularly important when descending slopes or hills.  
  • Considering using dipped headlights so others can see you.   
  • Always reduce your speed smoothly and use breaks gently
  • When in snow or ice consider using engine braking through the gears.
  • Only travel at a speed at which you will be able to stop within the distance you can see to be clear.  
  • Increase your following distance by ten times when driving on ice. 
  • The steering will become light if grip on the surface reduces or is lost, respond by coming off the accelerator and ensure any steering is gentle.
  • ABS systems may be significantly less effective on ice and snow due to lack of traction, which will extend stopping distances.
  • A lack of road noise could be an indicator of driving on ice.
  • Be alert to micro climates which can cause frost and wet patches to linger in some areas after they have disappeared elsewhere, for example driving under trees, crossing bridges, areas exposed to winds, areas of shadow cast by buildings etc.


  • Having the vehicle engine running whilst not in the vehicle (for example when de-icing your windscreen) can be a temptation to thieves.

Emergency Snow Kit

Jump leads

Cat litter or sand


Ice scraper

Warm clothes


Food and water

First aid kit

Mobile phone

Sturdy boots


Get your warm winter jackets from here: