Winter driving tips from the Telegraph’s motoring expert

28th November 2012

Motorists are sometimes reluctant to fit winter tyres during the colder months perhaps because they are unsure of their efficacy, but the Telegraph's motoring consumer expert James Foxall suggests those who don't could be missing a trick.

"Anyone who hasn't tried winter tyres might be sceptical but they are astonishingly effective on ice and snow," he said.

Mr Foxall suggests that people will get a lot of use out of cold-weather tyres, as they start to work when the temperature drops below seven degrees Celsius "which during commuting hours can be pretty much the entire winter".

Anyone thinking of buying a 4 x 4 to combat the weather should think again, he said, as in Britain the snow is rarely deep enough to require a four-wheel drive.

If you compare the price of a new car with the cost of a set of winter tyres "it's a bargain", he said.

Motorists who are still in doubt about whether to take the plunge and invest may be persuaded by the results of a test carried out by Tyresafe.

Drivers took two Mercedes C-class estates and drove them around an ice-rink – one car was fitted with Michelin's summer tyres, the other with winter tyres.

The car driven on summer tyres stopped in 9.75 metres, the Mercedes fitted with winter tyres stopped after just 7.01 metres, which means there was a 40 per cent difference between the two.

Any motorist who remains unconvinced should ensure they check their tyres tread depth and pressure so that they are as effective as possible.

In addition to fitting winter tyres, Mr Foxall suggests that drivers should take other precautions when the weather begins to turn.

Motorists should make sure their car battery is in good working order and would be wise to remember that they last approximately five years.

Another tip is to ensure your car is serviced regularly as "the more gunked up its internals are, the more work the battery does to turn the engine over," he said.

Screen wash can help to shift snow from the windscreen quickly so it is wise to make sure yours is filled up and the wipers are working effectively.

Cash-strapped motorists may want to follow Mr Foxall's advice and use Vaseline as a cheap alternative to spray to prevent doors sticking when the temperatures drop.

A blanket, shovel and tow rope are also useful things to have in the back of your car, but remember only to carry them when the weather's bad as additional weight in the boot will burn more fuel.

Mr Foxall describes a phone charger which works in a car as a potential lifesaver, so it's probably worthwhile investing in one.

Drivers who become completely stranded in bad weather may need to keep the engine ticking over to make sure they are warm enough, "so if snow is forecast make sure you always have a decent amount of fuel," he advised.

The conclusion seems to be that it always pays to be prepared for difficult weather conditions.

Visit ATS Euromaster for cold-weather tyres

Posted by Danielle Barge