Driving on snow and ice

1st Nov 2019

In an ideal world, when driving on snow and ice you want to have chunky, gripping winter tyres and a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Or even better, stay at home with a hot drink and wait till it goes away, because it’s not only how you drive that matters, but also what the other vehicles are doing. 

But it is not an ideal world and often you have no choice – drive you must. If you know the conditions are bad out there by having checked with the Met Office, think about your tyres: they are the first critical point of contact between the road and your car. Look after them and they will look after you.

  • While the minimum legal tread is 1.6mm, or 3/4 inch, Nankang recommends that 3mm is really the minimum to avoid being stuck in the snow.
  • Prepare your tyres and yourself for the worst. We have as useful checklist on our recent blog Taming the Beast from the East – the extreme freezing weather front possibly coming again from Siberia.
  • If it’s time to change, think of getting Nankang All Season tyres and have a look at our March 2019 blog, All Season Tyres and User Report.
  • If you live up North, or you expect you will be driving a lot in the snow, Nankang Winter Tyres will offer grip and reassurance even if you have only a 2-wheel drive.

Now, the driving. A suggestion. For many of us, ice and snow are still not that common and it’s easy not to know how handle the car, especially if you have a new one. If you have a chance, get yourself to an empty snowed or icy car park or any large space where you can slide around without damage. There, spend some time trying out stopping and turning, and seeing how to recover when the car gets out of control. Then, if you have to deal with the unexpected on the road, the experience in the car park will help you remember what to do.

Driving off.

  • Clean your windshields. Turn your light on. You really want to be seen by the other motorists.
  • If your wheels skid and you are not moving, don’t spin your wheels – it will only dig you in deeper. If you have a shovel and some salt, sand, grit or even kitty litter, this may the time to use them. If not, turn your wheels from side to side a few times and shift a few times at low revs from forward to reverse. Get out and gently rock the car from side to side.

Driving on.

    • Don’t assume your car can cope in every situation. Even four-wheel drives can be in trouble on winter roads.
    • Drive slowly. Driving too fast can lead to sliding and losing control.
    • Do not use cruise control.
    • Accelerate gently and change to a higher gear as soon as possible.
    • Use lower gears for going downhill.
    • Slow down before bridges or along water: where it’s wet it freezes.
    • Slow down if you see fog ahead: along with reduced visibility, freezing fog can cause black ice, especially on bridges and elevated areas.
    • Do not overtake snow ploughs and sanding trucks. Chances are that they cannot see you and the road in front is much worse.
    • Brake gently before turning into bends. If the car starts to slide, do not brake harder as that wipes out any grip your tyres may still have.


  • Give yourself lots of room to stop, at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front.
  • Slow down gradually when approaching an intersection where you have to give way. This reduces the risk of bumping into the car in front or sliding through the intersection.
  • Don’t slam the brakes, but break gently to avoid skidding. If you do not have anti-lock brakes (ABS), pump them gently. If you have ABS, apply steady pressure and you will feel the brakes pulse to slow you down.



Newsletter Sign-Up
If you need any assistance with the size search please call 0121 5005010