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Nine winter driving myths

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 1 year ago

5 min read

  • Advice
  • tips
Winter Driving

Ever wondered which winter driving myths are fact and which are fiction? Here's your chance to find out courtesy of WhoCanFixMyCar

Think you know your stuff when it comes to winter driving? It’s time to find out as WhoCanFixMyCar takes a closer look at some of the most common driving myths.

It’s illegal to drive in wellies - False

It’s a commonly held belief by many people that it’s illegal to drive in wellies. This particular myth isn’t true, though there’s an element of truth in it; rule 97 of the Highway Code states that motorists should ensure 'clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner'.

As such, it really comes down to personal judgement. If your wellies stop you from reaching the pedals and controlling the car as you normally would, it’s best to change them. 

Your engine needs time to warm up when it’s cold - False

A few seconds is enough to get full oil pressure in your engine; after that, the best way to warm up your car is to drive it. If you let it idle for too long this can even cause damage!

Winter driving is more dangerous because the days are shorter - True

Although there tends to be more drivers on the road during the day, reduced visibility at night is one of the chief reasons that it’s more dangerous to drive at this time, along with the increased risk of snowy and icy conditions thanks to plummeting temperatures. Plus, since it gets dark a lot earlier, more people are forced to hit the road when they might normally avoid it. 

If you leave your engine running to warm up, your insurance will be invalid if the car is stolen - True

The majority of car insurers have a ‘keys exclusion’ clause which means that if you leave your engine running while the vehicle is unattended, it won’t be covered under the policy. So stay with your car at all times while it’s warming up!

Always use your fog lights when it’s snowing - False

Everyone knows that Brits aren't the best when it comes to facing unusual weather conditions, such as snow. And, as drivers, one of the challenges we face is knowing which lights to use. Some people assume that as soon as it snows they should automatically switch their fog lights on, but this actually isn’t the case. 

The Highway Code clearly states that fog lights should only be used when visibility falls below 100 metres. If you use them with more than 100 metres of visibility, you could dazzle other drivers, putting them and yourself at risk.

As long as you can see out of your windscreen, you’re good to go - False

A lot of us are probably guilty of ‘portholing’ - clearing a small portion of your windscreen so that you can see out - but this is actually an offence. Rule 229 of the Highway Code states, “before you set off you MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows.”

You could be fined £60 by the police if your windscreen or windows are obstructed in any way.

You only need your aircon in the summer - False

It's called air conditioning, rather than air cooling, for a reason. The warm air from the system is a great way to demist your windows, and because the air is dry, it acts as a dehumidifier.

Even more importantly, your aircon is like a human body - if you fail to use it for long periods of time, it'll seize up. To keep yours in good working condition, use it all year round. And don't forget to book an air-con regas whenever it runs out!

Driving with snow on your numberplate is illegal - True

It’s easy to remember to clear your windscreen - after all, you rely on it to see - but your number plate is equally important and worthy of your attention. If you drive while it’s obscured, you could land yourself a £1,000 fine. This applies to both front and rear plates, so make sure you check both!

Crashing on ice isn’t your fault so your insurance will always pay out - False

Since skidding on ice is sometimes unavoidable even for the most cautious of drivers, it would be nice if this was true. Unfortunately, it isn’t - you are responsible for all your actions behind the wheel, and if your crash doesn’t involve other drivers, you could find yourself with an ‘at fault’ claim.

Get winter ready with WhoCanFixMyCar

If you enjoyed reading about these common myths, we have plenty more winter-themed content where that came from.

Want to make sure your car is prepared for the cold months ahead? Book your winter health check now!