News : AROnline’s winter driving tips

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Here, at AROnline, we know you lot – our loyal readers – aren’t daft. Far from it, in fact. However, you guys are bound to be the ones asked ‘What do I do?’, when the nation’s driveways resemble an iced bun.

So here’s a quick get out of jail free card from Andrew Elphick for your friends, relatives and colleagues. Don’t say we don’t love you.


The £15 special!
All you need to survive for the price of set menu No 3 in the local Chinese

If you can, fit good winter tyres now the temperatures have dropped...

Tyres

For under 50p most garages will offer an air compressor to pump all four tyres up – if you’re lucky, there might be vehicle chart as well. Otherwise have a look behind the petrol flap, on the door pillar in the hand book or try Kwik Fit’s Tyre Pressure Search.

Obviously, check you have plenty of tread too. 1.6mm might be legal, but it’s pretty much hopeless in heavy rain. Below 4mm and you really should think about some replacements. Now, I know your next question – I haven’t got one of those tread depth thingies – so get a lump of blue tack and squish it in the tread, pull it out and measure the lump sticking up. Magic, eh?

The oily bits

Right, pop the bonnet, a quick check – have you got enough oil, coolant (don’t top it with tap water!) brake fluid, power steering fluid. It sounds obvious, but even the best of us have a ‘oh-dear’ moment occasionally!

Good… Now to the screen wash. Give your existing washers a good purge of screen wash, 60 seconds of constant stream should tell you if you have any unknown blockages. Now pour in your screen wash. This is the hard bit; for well under £5 you can get at least a litre of screen wash, plenty of choice. However, spin the packet round: what is the minus degrees rating? Get the lowest figure you can and pour it in neat, and top the rest with water.

The anti-freezing properties are in the concentration. A top tip is the Audi/SEAT/Skoda/VW own brand (Part No G052164M2), very cheap and very effective. Try eBay

Now do you know where the pollen filter is? Try Puravent for assistance – if one thing will make your car steam up like a sauna this is it. You might need to give a shake, a vacuum or possibly replace it altogether.

Before you shut the bonnet drag any dead leaves away and check the catch has plenty of grease, especially if you have a Rover 75!

The windows

The obvious first: wiper blades. Are they any good at the moment? Do they look like they are fraying? You can spend a fortune on blades (especially if you’re having an MoT) but shop around. Wilkinson Stores can kit you out for a couple of quid, a search online can get you genuine, quality parts for not much money.

Remember wiper blades are great for sticking to frosted windscreens, so leaving the wipers on full blast when you get home the night before might be expensive the next morning. Our continental Alpine friends often leave wipers pointing skyward in the evening.

How clean is the glass? Sure, on the outside, but what about inside? You might be surprised how dirty it is. Clean glass demists quicker, and stays steam-free for longer. Household glass cleaner is fine, but a polish with a cream-based cleaner (Autoglym’s glass polish or similar) is a very effective barrier.

Before you finish inside give the rubber door seals a wipe down – a trip to your local pound shop will get a aerosol-based “black to black” or silicon product. Give the rubber seals a through wipe down and spray – all this will help give a surprising resistance to frozen-shut doors. You might find your ‘sharper’ spare key is more effective in freezing locks, too.

The survival kit

Who are we kidding? If it’s that bad stay in doors! However, a few things you could stick in the footwell (easy to reach if you really have problems) are as follows: De-icer, sure it’s everywhere now for £2, but try buying it when you need it! An ice scraper – ditto. A couple of Mars bars or similar sugar-filled sweets, a few re-sealable bottles of water, something to read and a blanket or old coat and gloves, anything that might make another layer for you, (or maybe the octogenarian in the car in front) come your unexpected road closure. A reflective vest and torch might also be useful.

Finally, pop the boot and (a) empty that junk out, (b) stick a few sheets of stout corrugated cardboard in, the type stuff comes packaged in. Very handy as a dry kneeling mat, or for sticking in front of stuck tyres for traction. Pretty good for covering windscreens as well.

So what’s the total?
50p: air
£4: screen wash
£1: glass cleaner
£1: rubber/plastic spray
£2: de-icer
£1.50: scraper
£1: chocolate
£1: drinks
£3: reflective vest

£15… Money well spent.

Got more to burn, though? Well, the world is your oyster. Spend the same again in a DIY store and that should buy you a bag of precious rock salt and a cheap, plastic snow shovel to get you off the drive and melt the ice at the end of your junction (you might be surprised at how little rock salt is needed to stop ice). Leave them both in the boot – you need to get back home after all…

Roadside recovery or home start can be useful (and might come with your bank account or credit card), but bear in mind everyone else will be making the call when their batteries have given up the ghost. Speaking of batteries a purchase of a new one might be worth a go if yours is as old as time itself – remember they only ever give up miles from home!

Still feeling flush? How about snow socks/chains or winter tyres? Under £50 buys some socks or chains.

Snow socks are, quite literally, a synthetic sock that covers your tyre and are secured with Velcro. They’re meant to get you out of trouble, but try doing 30mph for sustained periods of time on tarmac and you will shred them!

Snow chains are a more permanent version of the sock, being made of steel. The downsides are that they are a sod to get on, and rumble like thunder! Snow socks tend to cover a wider range of fitments, where as chains are much more specific. I would recommend having a practice run with fitting both types, or you might as well not bother having them.

Speaking from experience, take your nice watch off too before fitting chains…

Winter tyres? Depending upon who you talk to, these are either (a) waste of time, or (b) the best thing since sliced bread – so, if your prerequisite for tyres is that they must be black and cheap, stop reading.

However, I’m in the thumbs-up club. One winter, I experimented with a set of part-worn tyres on my rear-wheel-drive BMW – and was astounded. Even now, I’m still not sure how so seemingly little tread difference to the eye can cause such an increase in grip. I know it’s in the compounds (and you can feel movement in the tread blocks).

If you go down the ‘previously enjoyed’ tyre route aim for two things: 5mm tread and a branded name. Part worns tend to be priced by size rather than brand, so go for Michelin, Pirelli, Continental, Nokian, Goodyear, Dunlop, Vredestein etc.

This I year I traded cars, and went for a brand-new set of winter tyres (Pirelli Sotto Zeros). And I’m pretty frugal (it has often been remarked I must have Scottish or Yorkshire ancestry). There is a huge variance on price, but my trusted local Tyre Fitters at Queens Park Tyres came up with the goods for only a little more than the online specialists so I shopped local. It’s worth you trying local, too. Winter tyres really are that good, trust me.

One last thing to note – we all made that first winter driving mistake once upon time – your favourite nephew or niece, who has only just passed the driving test, might benefit from an old stager’s advice in a deserted and empty ‘iced’ car park or an hour on a local skid pan – especially if their pride and joy isn’t packed full of driver aids like their 2016 driving school car…

Winter tyres - worth the expense if you need to keep mobile in poor, cold, conditions

Andrew Elphick

He might come from Essex and have an irrational, if understandable, love of Uncle Henry’s finest, but Andrew’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the automotive industry is a constant source of new material for AROnline. Check out his detailed stories on Midas and Trident to see what we mean…

Now he’s busy working towards retirement. Hmm.

59 Comments

  1. I still think its worth buying a proper Tread depth guage, they last forever and are more accurate than the 20p coin method!

  2. “Now do you know where the pollen filter is?”

    Top tip this – my CR-V was steaming up something chronic and even on the top fan speed the air flow was equivalent to that produced by a small mouse. With asthma.

    My is located behind the glovebox of all places, got on OEM one from Honda as it was only a couple of quid more than a spurious one. It made a hell of a difference, plus the A/C blew colder too!

    The best winter driving accessory I’ve come across is the Remote Start facility on the Clifford Thatcham alarm I had installed (essential for a city-based motor) – leave the heater on full, preset the car by the remote when switching it off and then one press on the remote in the morning starts it up (whilst still staying locked and alarmed) and gets it toasty warm and ice-free!

  3. “I still think its worth buying a proper Tread depth guage, they last forever and are more accurate than the 20p coin method!”

    I got one off eBay for about £1.30. It’s amazing how wrong you can be when judging tread depth by eye or coin – a tread depth gauge is a very handy thing to have.

  4. “Now do you know where the pollen filter is? Try Puravent for assistance, if one thing will make your car steam up like a sauna this is it. You might need to give a shake, a vacuum or possibly replace it altogether.”

    Often Pollen Filters aren’t changed when a car is serviced, they’re either conveniently ‘forgotten’ by the mechanic, because some are awkward to get at, or they’re left as they are because they’re not deemed essential.

    Trouble is after a year or twos use they clog up with muck. It’s much like the filters in a hoover when they’re clogged it doesn’t suck as well. This has the same effect on a car’s heater, but not only does it now shift as much air, it can make the motor overheat because it’s having to work so hard, net result a burnt out heater motor.

    “The best winter driving accessory I’ve come across is the Remote Start facility on the Clifford Thatcham alarm I had installed (essential for a city-based motor) – leave the heater on full, preset the car by the remote when switching it off and then one press on the remote in the morning starts it up (whilst still staying locked and alarmed) and gets it toasty warm and ice-free!”

    These are a good idea, however you should always bear in mind that it is an offence under the road traffic act to leave a vehicle unattended with the engine running. Even though you’ve not got the keys in the car and it’s locked etc etc, the act simply says it’s an offence to leave a vehicle unattended with the engine running.

    “I still think its worth buying a proper Tread depth guage, they last forever and are more accurate than the 20p coin method!”

    You can usually get them in a set with a pencil type pressure gauge for less than a fiver. Failing that a good old fashioned ruler will do the same thing, just make sure it’s one with the graduations right up to the end of it.

    “cheap plastic snow shovel,”
    I wouldn’t bother keeping one of those in the boot, they’re ok for clearing your drive in the morning, but out on the road you’re much better with something more robust. A cheap metal shovel from a builders merchants is more effective, as you can use it to get into compacted snow/ice. I bought an army surplus entrenching tool the other year, they’re nice and compact when folded and can even be used as a pick to break up ice. My boss had spent 20min trying to dig out an artic with a plastic shovel and had little success, i drove in with my little folding tool and we got the truck out in less than 10 min!

  5. Have to agree about the winter tyres.

    I got two part worns for the front of my FWD car last winter and it made a huge different. While 2 aren’t recommended I found if I took my time I had no trouble. Even had to do an emergency stop or two and no issues cropped up.

  6. “These are a good idea, however you should always bear in mind that it is an offence under the road traffic act to leave a vehicle unattended with the engine running. Even though you’ve not got the keys in the car and it’s locked etc etc, the act simply says it’s an offence to leave a vehicle unattended with the engine running.”

    It is indeed, but seeing as the Police round here have their hands full with the scumbags from the dodgy area around the corner (one so bad that there’s been books written about it!), I reckon I’ll be fine!

  7. I usually have a metal entrenching tool, a tow rope, a tyre compressor and cans of instant hot coffee (when I can find them for sale). Tastes vile, but keeps you warm and has sugar in too, so good for adrenaline after a crash.

    Main winter driving tip? Don’t Stop At The Bottom Of A Hill.

  8. “Don’t Stop At The Bottom Of A Hill.”

    Sometimes you just can’t haha.

    “in snow turn off esp,abs switched off in snow would be good too!”
    Well i think it’s more accurate to say use ESP, but turn it off when you need to. If you manage to get proper stuck in deep snow you’ll need to switch it off until you get out. But it is good on compacted snow and patches of ice, as it will correct the cars direction and prevent you booting the car and making it get out of control. If you have one wheel on good tarmac and one on a slippery verge then ESP will get you off of it. Although it does depend on the vehicle, as some ESP systems are far too aggressive at cutting the throttle, but there are as many good ones. It wont drive the car for you though and much like you wouldn’t use cruise control as a way of getting some shut eye on a motorway, you shouldn’t use ESP to do all the work.

    As for ABS it makes no difference whether you have it or not on ice, so switching it off would make no difference. If the tyres are sliding, then you ain’t gonna slow up any faster with the wheels locked or not.

  9. @ Dennis
    Actually turning ABS off makes a hell of a differnce on Snow and gravel, so much so Audi’s had a button on the dash for many years to turn it off, originally put there due to the rally experiance they gained from the Quattro

    The reason is you will stop much faster on snow with ABS off, as the locked wheel allows a wedge of snow to build up infront of the tyre which assists in slowing the car, same with gravel, this does not happen with ABS turned on. And ABS on ice = No brakes at all what so ever, ABS off = some brakes, but not a lot

    My tip is .. buy a cheap range rover or disco!

  10. “ABS on ice = No brakes at all what so ever, ABS off = some brakes, but not a lot”

    Actually i take your point about snow, although that only works in soft snow, once snow has been compacted to any degree it’s just ice.

    However on ice it makes no difference whether you have ABS or not, if the tyres aren’t gripping the ice, they’re not slowing you down. ABS tries to stop the wheels locking, so on sheet ice the wheels will lock without ABS whereas with ABS they’ll just roll slowly, either way the tyres aren’t gripping so you’re not slowing down. Granted with ABS the pedal will go hard, but even if you overrode it and could press the pedal harder all you’re going to do it lock the wheels and slide.

    The golden rule on ice is don’t use your brakes, so if you’re not using them, ABS or No-ABS it makes no difference.
    Slowing down is all reliant on your tyres gripping the road surface, if it’s so slippery that your brakes have no effect then you’re getting into studded tyre territory.

    “My tip is .. buy a cheap range rover or disco!”
    Although that again is reliant on tyres. Soft snow they’re generally better, but once it’s compacted (ie ice) then a 4×4 will just have 4 wheels spinning rather than 2. Although they do tend to have larger engines allowing you to use the higher gears to move off more easily.

  11. my nephew won’t be driving this winter as he can’t afford to pay his Mum the £4000 premium to go onto her 2006 Pug 307 Auto’ insurance! Welcome to rip off Britain!

  12. Some great tips! Thanks!

    ‘Our continental Alpine friends often leave wipers pointing skyward in the evening’

    Why is this? I can understand not using wipers when they’ve frozen over.

    Last year had a couple of old mats (the ones we replaced in the house front and back halls – used the old ones), handy for putting under the tyres (not only of yourself, but visitors to others in the household who think the way to get out of ice is to rev like mad) when stuck.

    Used weed killer/grass seed mix as makeshift grit on the driveway. Seemed to work, but made an awful mess come the thaw.

    We had to help push people up a slight hill as a BMW 3 series got stuck halfway through, real community spirit of guys helping push cars up the hill.

    Have moved to a house on top of a hill, and drive an automatic this year.
    So any tips on getting automatic 2.0 petrols up icy hills? Can’t really take a run up as it is a left turn on a traffic light junction.

    • Maybe there is a misunderstanding regarding the wipers’ “skyward” position.
      Cars are not parked with the wipers on the screen just pointing upwards.
      Wipers are lifted off the glass and are pointing in the air.
      Thus you can easysily clean/scrape the complete windscreen, wipers don’t freeze to the glass and show is easier to remove from the gap between bonnet and glass.

  13. It helps you tell how deep the snow is, also easier to brush snow off a windscreen with the wipers up to. Advice for automatic petrols? Press the winter button and try not to use the throttle in snow boots, slip your shoes back on! Its down to tyres I spent last winter driving a rear wheel drive car, and different rubber aided enormously. I live on a hill too.

    [IMG]http://i41.tinypic.com/o0ceus.jpg[/IMG]

  14. Good advice Andrew. Another thumbs up for winter tyres this end. Living on a hill only 4x4s can normally climb they not only got up to my house, but up the even steeper driveway with no fuss whatsoever. A shovel is required mind, for when the snow is deeper than the lower grille of the car…!

    Only thing I’d add is throw a tow rope in the boot and learn where your towing eye is. If you’re stuck you maybe suprised to find your friendly Range Rover driver offering you a ticket to getting home. Even if all the kids point and laugh at the shiny BMW being towed up the hill by a fellow in a tweed jacket!

  15. “my nephew won’t be driving this winter as he can’t afford to pay his Mum the £4000 premium to go onto her 2006 Pug 307 Auto’ insurance! Welcome to rip off Britain!”

    Well how old is he?

    “So any tips on getting automatic 2.0 petrols up icy hills?”
    Don’t fall in to the trap of sticking it in ‘L’ or 1, leave it in D, if the wheels spin it will change up through the gears until you gain traction. Much like in a manual you pull away in the highest gear possible, the automatic will do it for you.

  16. +1 thumbs up for winter tyres here.

    I, too, am one of those people who lift the front and rear wipers up from the glass when I know it’ll get below 0(°C) – reason is, if I’m to use the wipers next morning, they’re not ice-stuck to the glass. Of course, before moving them I defrost the screen the best I can (scraper, spray de-icer, the car’s demister).

    It gets quite cold here and I’ve noticed since I’ve had my present car (it didn’t happen on my previous one, dunno why) that the screen also tends to ice a bit on the inside. So I’m forced to wait those few minutes to have some heat from the demister – trying to clean the glass’ inside by hand or a sponge can be just messier.
    Guess it’s time to clean the screen inside!

  17. Funny you should post this article this week because on Monday I took my van in for a new tyre. It was legal but I prefer them a bit fresher, a few weeks ago I noticed a small amount of vibration at about 65 mph but put it down to a missing rim weight. Well it was a huge chunk out of the inside tyre wall, probaly from a stray lump of metal on the motorway. Scared the hell out of me, I always check the tred and the outside tyre wall but fail to look at the inside wall!

  18. “I, too, am one of those people who lift the front and rear wipers up from the glass when I know it’ll get below 0(°C) – reason is, if I’m to use the wipers next morning, they’re not ice-stuck to the glass. Of course, before moving them I defrost the screen the best I can (scraper, spray de-icer, the car’s demister).”

    Also if you switch the wipers on while they’re frozen to the screen it can tear the knife edge of the blade so you end up with streaks.

    “It gets quite cold here and I’ve noticed since I’ve had my present car (it didn’t happen on my previous one, dunno why) that the screen also tends to ice a bit on the inside. So I’m forced to wait those few minutes to have some heat from the demister – trying to clean the glass’ inside by hand or a sponge can be just messier.”

    Usually means the car has a slight leak somewhere. Doesn’t have to be a big one. Sometimes if the air inlet for the heater (on the scuttle or under the bonnet) can get water overflow into it when the drains are blocked with leaves or what ever. Even a bung missing out of the floor or a mal-adjusted door can do the same thing.

  19. Living as I do in Cold Denmark, there is one more thing on my list of things to buy, and that is a petrol fueled motor warmer. My 12 year old 620Ti has one, people laugh at the car but in the morning I dont have to scrape any ice, the car is warm, and it certainly helps keep the engine in good shape, I’m on the road while they’re still scrapeing the windows, The only problem with mine is that the car alarm has a tendancy to go off when it starts blowing hot air into the cabin!

  20. “and that is a petrol fueled motor warmer”

    Known as an Auxiliary Heater or Night Heater. The Rover 75 used to offer one as an optional extra, yet few other UK models seem to offer it. I’ve seen it listed in the diagnostic functions on PSA cars, but never actually seen one fitted or even listed as an optional extra on UK models.

  21. This is great advice – much of it we already know but it always helps to refresh knowledge. We live on a slight hill which always seems to be a problem in winter – especially for our local BMW 3 series man. Last winter every morning he struggled more than most. My own tip? I would also add a an old rug or piece of carpet to the list of things to keep in the boot to lay over particuarly stubbonly slippery parts

  22. As the Lexus needed new tyres anyway, I’ve equipped it with winter boots; conventional wisdom may say to use FWD in the winter, but with the idiots I’ve seen driving around my way the last 3 years, I’d rather have the bigger, heavier shell around me keeping me safe!

    I went to my local factor (he loves my cars) & he recommended an off-brand based on his own experience with them last year. If it hadn’t been for his personal say-so I’d have gone for one of the bigger names, but he used a pair on the front of his van last year (FWD car-derived, I forget the model) & it was a hoot. They were so good that he ended up getting out of his car on the top of a hill, & sliding on his arse all the way back down because he hadn’t realised just how slippery conditions were!

    I also have an order in for some chains for the Allegros, just because with so many of them, I know I’ll be able to get a lot of mileage out of them 😉 They all coped admirably last year although my commute starts with a 1:10 hill which is also a major local route, so every little helps! I was weaving around stranded buses last year…

  23. Oh, I had to think about this bit:
    “Our continental Alpine friends often leave wipers pointing skyward in the evening.”
    But once I worked it out, *lightbulb* – I’ll start doing this I think; I had a moment last year where I thought I’d burned out one of my motors!

  24. “My own tip? I would also add a an old rug or piece of carpet to the list of things to keep in the boot to lay over particuarly stubbonly slippery parts”

    It’s also handy to lay on if you need to get under the car with a shovel.

    “Clear the trash from your garage and put the car inside.”

    Mine sleeps in the Garage, saves clearing the car off in the morning, but you still have to do it before you come home from work.

  25. May I add to all these useful tips:

    Fog Lights – know what you have on your car and how/when to operate them.
    Seems trivial but it isn’t.

    Noticed today – while driving in thick fog – 1 every 15 drivers use the rear fog light (properly), while nearly everyone uses front fog lights (usually improperly).

  26. @Dennis
    “However on ice it makes no difference whether you have ABS or not, if the tyres aren’t gripping the ice, they’re not slowing you down. ABS tries to stop the wheels locking, so on sheet ice the wheels will lock without ABS whereas with ABS they’ll just roll slowly, either way the tyres aren’t gripping so you’re not slowing down. Granted with ABS the pedal will go hard, but even if you overrode it and could press the pedal harder all you’re going to do it lock the wheels and slide.”

    However if only one wheel is on ice, that wheel alone will lock without ABS, with it you will have no brakes on all 4. Spend a year in Alaska, you will find ABS is seriously NOT your friend. But yes avoid braking where possible

  27. @Dennis

    Thanks, it has 1 and 2 which the manual said are for snow, followed by D3 and D4.

    I will leave it in D and see how I get on.

    I sort of see the reason for the wipers being pointed up, but if the whole screen is frozen, as soon as you turn the ignition to start to defrost/heat the car, the wipers will come down, over the ice on the screen. Even the de-icer was struggling to keep up last winter.

  28. “However if only one wheel is on ice, that wheel alone will lock without ABS, with it you will have no brakes on all 4. Spend a year in Alaska, you will find ABS is seriously NOT your friend. But yes avoid braking where possible”

    As i said above though it depends on how aggressive the ESP/ABS system is. Yes for old cars if one wheel locks abs activates on all wheels, but for modern ESP/ABS equiped cars it will balance the brake force to keep you going in a straight line. Without ABS if you brake with one side of the car on ice and the other on sound tarmac you just end up sideways most of the time anyway. 😉

    “Thanks, it has 1 and 2 which the manual said are for snow, followed by D3 and D4.
    I will leave it in D and see how I get on.”
    That’s broadly it, use D, then help it out when it needs it, any automatic gearbox as the ability to change gear manually and i think a lot of people forget that. Higher gears still limit the amount of torque applied to the road regardless of the type of transmission.

  29. well i love the 15 pounds winter kit even thought as doing it as a xmas gift
    well i was getting my mot i was listening to what the chaps had to say about the tyres also being nosey he quoted the chap over a £1000 and repeated charge for taking the off and putting them back on and there me thinking i could by 2 sets of tyres for that so thats now £1015 with out anything else to add to the list………

  30. Well there you go. Everyone rushes out and spends several hundred pounds on winter tyres because last year it snowed a bit and here we are on the third warmest Christmas day on record!

  31. It’s also the season for accidents. If you share the car or don’t own a mobile phone, get a cheap PayG one, stick a tenner on it (make sure it doesn’t expire if unused) and grab one of those wind-up torches with a phone charger built in. Leave them in the car, ideally where accessible but in with the tookit if you’re a neat freak. (Like me).

    Also get a disposable camera. Photo evidence in an accident can make the difference between knock for knock (as it was, they do this less and less) and winning the case if it’s not your fault.

    One thing I used to carry in the cars, but seems to be harder to find now, was that awful Nescafé instead hot coffee, white with sugar.

  32. “My tip is .. buy a cheap range rover or disco!”

    I don’t know why people baulk at the cost of winter tyres but are quite happy to buy a 4×4 just for the winter.
    It’s mostly 4x4s that I see in ditches after snowfall due to overconfidence.

  33. I’m guessing it’s because those tyres also involve a spare set of wheels, and are only usable for a few weeks of the year. I’ve been eying up the relative cost of a set of winter tyres on the 300C vs. an excuse to own another XJ Cherokee, but I’m also very used to driving in (proper and British) snow, so actually get the best out of a 4×4.

    Having said that, all the benefits I’d get in day-to-day driving from a 4×4 I’d get from just driving a cheap, light, skinny tyred-with-good-tread banger.

    In countries where old cars are not so criminally undervalued, winter tyres and spare rims are common.

  34. When it comes to steering or slowing down there is no difference between a 4×4 or any other car – usually it is one of these conditions where the problems start…

    At least a little bit of snow today caused London to hit the news here in Germany again 🙂

  35. Winter tyres are usable for nearly half of the year when the temps are averaging below 7 degrees – they aid grip and traction in the wet, ice, mud and other general detritus you see on the roads at this time.

    After the experience I had today driving in snow on the M1 with my winter tyre equipped 500, I will never ever having a car without them between November and February (or later if the temps stay low).

  36. it’s also a good idea to clean the now from lights and number plates before driving off, although I am sure that will not apply to readers of this…… The number of numpties driving around and you cannot see their bleeping lights. There is a photo doing the rounds of a few forums showing an Audi bombing along with only a small circle of snow cleared from the windscreen in front of the driver, I hope the police get him/her. Also wide low profile summer tyres on a 4×4 are also worse than bleeping useless… my stepson bought an RR Vogue with dustbin lid size 22″ alloys and 285/35 tyres, the car is a 3 tonne lethal missile when it’s remotely slippery.

  37. Next year my 300C will have a spare set of rims with good winter tyres on, definitely. This year I’ve been able to use the C3 for a fair bit of it, and whilst I don’t class it as a good snow car, it’s perfectly capable. Energy tyres = hard, slippery rubber in the cold 🙁

  38. An obvious one if you’re driving in bad weather, have the Travel Alert switched on( it can also play over CDs). This advises you on what to expect in your local BBC radio area and on a longer journey, tunes to the nearest BBC local station. Also national radio traffic news, particularly Radio 2, tends to be informative.
    However, one thing that you can’t really prepare against is flying debris in strong winds. I heard some loud bang on the side of my car and when I stopped, it looked like a large stone has made a six inch scuff in the plastic bumper. However, since the car is 6 years old and I’m not planning on changing it for 2 years, it’s something I can live with as I’d probably cause more damage by trying to fix it and I don’t want to pay a body shop £ 150 when next month is service and MOT time.

  39. Are ‘all weather’ tyres any use?

    I put Michelin CrossClimates on last summer, in preparation for winter and beyond.

    However last winter (nor this one) wasn’t that bad (thank goodness!) so they didn’t get used in the deep stuff, and just before this winter a puncture forced the early replacement of the two fronts (FWD) with a tyre fitter that didn’t stock them (not many places do), replaced with their recommendation of a more general Bridgestone.

    • I also fitted the new Michelin CrosClimates 1 1/2 years ago to the XM. They have been expensive, but seem to last well. As summer tyres they have been exceptional: Quiet, loads of grip on wet and dry roads. I only have been able to use them on snow on very few occasions – wastly superior to summer tyres on such a heavy and powerful FWD car, but I cannot comment on how well they would stack against one of the best snow tyres. But I am confident after giving them a few tries (we only had very little snow since then), that it would really need bad conditions to leave me stranded. I am – after over 25k miles – still very happy with this choice.

      • Thanks Alexander.

        I only seemed to get 15k miles out of my fronts, though the tyre fitter did seem to thing the Saab was a heavy car. Did they fit lead weights to the Vectra chassis?

        They did seem to be grippy enough.

        Put them on my wife’s car too before this winter, wanted decent tyres for her.

        Hopefully they’ll not need tested in the heavy stuff before the end of this winter, but I’ve been caught out before by the weather, and it is nice to know that the car probably won’t be stranded.

    • Get some. I’ve had mix and match on this God awful kia and it’s abysmal – it powerslides at 20mph on dry roads. I’ve got Goodyear vector 4seasons 2 on the related Accent and it’s totally different. It has grip, where the Kia needs the concept explained in words of one syllable. They’re probably not as good on snow but winters will destroy themselves in summer temperatures.

      • Put CrossClimates on the wife’s Leon and she has had no issues this winter, thank goodness.

        The Saab got CrossClimates but it got moved on last January, having not getting ran in anger in proper cold (those runs of mild winters for a few years there). In the mild they seemed fine, a quiet tyre.

        The Skoda has a pick-and-mix of Pirellis, a Continental and a budget cheapy. Trying my best to wear them down to justify replacing with a set of CCs 🙂
        However in the snow it wasn’t too bad, took it easy, bit of wheelspin taking off from lights as I couldn’t get the DSG forced into 2nd, and was aware my current tyres aren’t great.

        CCs wouldn’t be as good in snow as a set of proper winter boots, but my thinking was that snow is still a non-regular occurrence, despite this winter. They’re legally a snow tyre on the continent, and it saves swapping round every spring/autumn.

    • Absolutely. First, the rubber compound works well below 7 degrees Celsius, and thus gives you much better grip than any summer tyre on cold dry or wet road surfaces. Second, the tread has fine grooves which are vital to get grip on snow-covered roads.

      I cannot get my head around why people here baulk at investing in either winter tyres or all-season tyres (with the snowflake symbol). It’s not like we don’t have cold weather here, and it’s primarily an issue of getting a grip on cold road surfaces rather than being ready for the not very many days with snow-covered roads.

  40. Get an Austin Maxi. Best car I’ve ever driven in snow . Will put an awful lot of more modern machinery to shame. Oh and the heaters nice and toasty too.

  41. I’m sure that there will be plenty of people with a garage full of un-used winter tyres bought circa Autumn 2011 anticipating another Winter like 10/11 – A chance at last to use them!

  42. The problem with that is that winter tyres rubber gets harder with age, The major difference with Winter tyres is not the tread but the softness of the rubber. But having said that, they make an amazing difference. I live in Denmark where is does get colder, and change tyres every year. Driving 40 miles to work today on roads that were packed with snow and ice. ABS was not used once and the antispin light flickered a couple of times,

  43. 1) Make sure your fuel tank is full in case you get stuck in traffic. the extra weight may also help traction. If you have a diesel will the fuel gel in really cold spells?
    2) Steering wheel lock so you can leave the car outside with the engine running to warm up and defrost the cabin before setting off – still possibly an insurance risk but it’s a matter of risk balance.
    3) Tow rope and a pair of wellies but don’t drive in the latter!
    4) Curse yourself for buying a white 2wd automatic…

  44. Winter tyres or 4 x 4? Which helps more? Search youtube for “winter tyres Ford Kuga”, and you will see a nice video with 2wd & 4wd Ford Kugas fitted with summer & winter tyres, so all four permutations.

  45. One of the best buys I made was a Kenlowe Pre-heater which I put on a 1993 Discovery I once owned. I lived in a village about 600′ above the Clyde Valley and commuted about 5 miles to work in Paisley so the car never warmed up. I put a timer in the garage and set it to come on about 20 minutes before I left. Instant heat and demisting, no warm up time and saving in fuel. You can transfer it to the next car if you fit it carefully and only need to drill two or three holes. Remember to unplug it before you go!

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