what you need to
when driving in
You should be able to drive in winter just as you do in summer – as long as you have the right equipment and take the time for a few careful preparations
Whether you are cruising high into the mountains for a ski holiday or making your usual trips around town, driving in the winter months should be straightforward. And it’s possible to stay in control whatever the weather by having the right equipment and following the steps on this winter driving checklist.
Remember that winter doesn’t just hit when snow falls – winter tyres give you the grip you need whenever the temperature drops below 7°C (44.6°F), as well as in rain and slush.
Check one: know the law where you are driving
There are rules and regulations for winter tyres across Europe, but they vary between countries so be sure you know the law. In some countries the use of winter tyres is mandatory during certain months, while in others it may depend on weather conditions. In more extreme conditions – like those in parts of Russia, for example – studded tyres may be required.
Check two: is your car in good working order?
A visit to the dealer to get your winter tyres is a good time to ask for a thorough check to make sure your vehicle is ready for the cold months ahead. You can also equip yourself with an ice scraper for the windscreen and, in case of emergency, think of stowing a blanket, torch and gloves.
Check three: feel confident in your winter tyres
Tyre markings: the three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) symbol, formed of three mountain peaks surrounding a snowflake, is clear proof that a tyre has passed a rigorous performance test in winter conditions carried out at a certified laboratory.
Tread depth: check your tyres frequently and consider replacing them when they have less than 4mm (0.16 inch) of tread compound.
Tyre pressure: the indicated pressure for Pirelli tyres is the same for both winter and summer, but in colder temperatures the pressure will drop so it’s worth checking regularly. Having the right pressure will boost performance and help reduce wear.
Store your tyres properly between seasons: you can store winter and summer tyres in exactly the same way – vertically (unless on a dedicated set of rims), to protect the profile. Luckily, more garages are now storing their clients’ tyres for them.
Ask the expert – a tyre specialist: check your tyres regularly for signs of wear and tear, which can include anything from cracking and blisters to bulges and tears. If in doubt, visit a specialist tyre provider.
Know your tyre markings
Check four: follow the local weather and driving conditions
Safety starts with good decision-making. Even with a sophisticated car and the best tyres in the world, you should still be fully aware of the latest weather and road conditions. In much of Europe the number of snow days is falling, but wet days are increasing – so handling in wet conditions is also vital.
Check five: be aware of your driving style and speed
Pirelli’s winter tyres guarantee the best braking and acceleration in wintry conditions, reducing the stopping distance on snow by half. But whenever the road is covered in ice and snow it’s worth adjusting your speed – and that goes for turning, accelerating and braking. Keeping within the speed limit means you are less likely to lose traction.
Check six: avoid skidding
Any form of skidding or aquaplaning – the moment when traction is lost between the rubber and the road surface – is potentially very dangerous. You can skid when going round a corner too quickly, when braking or accelerating too hard. While caution can prevent most skids, some cars have anti-skid technology that will help control your car when a skid starts by applying the brakes to some wheels and sending power to others.
Check seven: have your back-up ready in case of a puncture
Check eight: have an emergency rescue plan
Whatever the time of year, it’s good to have someone to call in the event of a breakdown.