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Preparing For Safe Winter Driving​

Some sensible hints and tips to prepare your vehicle for winter

We offer some simple winter driving checks to help you prepare yourself and your car for winter road safety.

We asked our ŠKODA experts and our JCB Group Technicians what they advise for safer driving on winter roads.  Here's what they said.

Change Your Mindset

Winter driving is so different to summer and fair weather driving.  Driving in winter can mean soggy, wet leaves, icy roads, dark evenings, fog and even sleet and snow.  Remember to adapt your driving style to the conditions around you and plan ahead so that you are not caught out.  The great British weather can change quickly, so keep a few items in the car to help you.  For you - a couple of warm blankets, a spare fleece jacket, gloves, hat, scarf, snacks and water.  For your car - de-icer, screen cover, screen scraper, a shovel and maybe jump leads.

winter road covered in snow

Winter Tyres

Winter tyres are not mandatory in the UK, but if you live in the north of the country or you are planning to take your car into Europe this winter, then you may need to consider switching to winter tyres for the season. This graphic shows areas where winter tyres are mandatory.

How do winter tyres work?

Their composition is different to summer tyres and it enables them to have better traction in very cold temperatures. They also have a different groove depth and pattern to aid grip and dispersal of water.

Even if you don't need to fit winter tyres, make sure that your tyres have plenty of tread left. The legal minimum is 1.6mm, but you should replace your tyres before they get to this level of wear.

Our Service Centres will be happy to do a free tyre safety check for you. Just call us to book in.

Winter tyre map showing compulsory areas

Clearing Frosted Windows

Be sure to clear a frosted windscreen before driving off. Remember to clear both the front and rear windscreens and have good visibility for your wing mirrors too. Many cars now have heated screen, wing mirror and headlamp mechanisms which are a real help. If you don't have those then what should you use to clear an icy windscreen or prevent a screen icing up?

  • An ice scraper - first switch on your windscreen heater if you have one and let that get to work. Then take your ice scraper (not a credit card! - that will scratch) and start clearing the side windows first. ŠKODA owners have an ice scraper stored in the fuel tank cap or boot door - how handy!
  • Windscreen covers - nylon covers specially made for your car's windscreen size are a handy way to prevent ice forming on the screen overnight. Clip them on to the screen when parking up and they keep the screen pretty much clear. You can also use a blanket or plastic sheet, but don't use newspaper as that will get damp and freeze to the glass.
  • De-icer fluid - our service centres sell de-icer and it's very efficient at removing ice quickly. Failing that a water: vinegar mixture can help. Be sure in both cases to wash the car as soon as is practical as you don't want the fluids to damage the paintwork.

What not to do to clear ice from your car windscreen

No, no, no! Don't do it! Don't force on the windscreen wipers if they are frozen stuck. You will likely damage the motor, the wiper arm and the blade. Make sure the ice has melted from the arm and mechanism before activating the windscreen wipers (front and rear).

No, no, no..... no! Don't use a kettle of boiling water or even a candle or lighter! The sudden heat can cause the glass to crack and you could scald yourself too.

Icy Interior windows

Sometimes it's so cold that the interior windows ice up too. Try to release the moisture build up by putting the ventilation on and use the ice scraper. Don't use the de-icer fluid as the vapours can be harmful to your health. Your air conditioning system helps play a part in heating the vehicle's interior too. Remember to keep the air conditioning system serviced regularly - every 2 years is recommended.

Read more about the importance of properly working windscreen wipers here.

Lady clearing the windscreen of a car from ice

Run Some Basic Checks Before Setting Out

If you are setting out on a long journey, to visit relatives & friends or travel on holiday this winter, take a little time to check the following key items on your vehicle before setting out:

  • Make sure your lights are working properly
  • Make sure you have plenty of fuel/charge to complete your journey and a bit more. Read more about getting the most out of your electric car this winter here.
  • Make sure your roadside assistance policy is up-to-date
  • Make sure your tyres have plenty of tread left and are properly inflated
  • Make sure your windscreens are clean and clear

Even better, let our experts do a winter driving check for you. They'll put the car on the ramp and do an express visual check that takes about 20 minutes. Our Technicians will check the battery life, lights, fluid levels and condition of things like brake pads and tyre tread depth. Book a check now.

Winter Accessories You Might Need

Some useful accessories you might find handy in your arsenal of winter gadgets are:

  • Snow chains​ or snow socks - these fit on the wheels and help give traction to get out of a tight spot.  Remember to remove them once you're on the move.
  • Winter strength screen wash fluid - contains extra anti-freeze mixture.
  • If you drive a lot in cold conditions, the next time you change your car, seek out a model with heated seats, a heated steering wheel, heated screens and wing mirrors.
  • All weather floor mats, puncture repair kits, emergency warning triangles, de-icer and scrapers, cargo space liners, dog guards and a host of other accessories are available from our parts departments within our service centres.  Just give them a call.

We hope you will have found these hacks of use and that you have many miles of safe and happy driving this winter.

If, at any time, you need some advice or a check of your vehicle, please do not hesitate to contact our Service Centres and Showrooms and our staff will be happy to help with all aspects of your vehicle ownership.

Contact Us​

Thanks to our ŠKODA Hub experts and our Service Centre teams for this advice!