The Irish winter may not bring a lot of snow, but it does bring colder days, darker nights, and more treacherous roads. Whether you’re enduring an onslaught of rain or a rare morning when there’s ice on the road, you may find that you need to diversify your driving style to stay safe on Ireland’s winter-ised roadways.

If you do plan on taking any long trips this winter – or if you’re just heading into work and not sure what to do – we can help you prepare to face the colder months of the year. There are certain ways you can prepare your car to help it better deal with the shift in temperature.

Be as careful as you can while on the road this winter. Caution will keep you and your car in tip-top shape.

winter driving in ireland

Getting started: tyres

First thing’s first, when it comes to an Irish winter: make sure your car is equipped with its winter tyres. When you’re driving in the rain, you need all the traction you can get to better stay on the road. Winter tyres will give you the support that your summer tyres can’t, as they’ll have more surface area with which to grip the road.

If you have winter tyres to use from last year, be sure to check their tread before you put them onto your car. Your tread should at least be deep enough to fit a quarter of a pound coin. If it isn’t, then you’ll need to replace your tyres before the bad weather hits. 

winter driving

Using your lights

You’ll also want to replace the bulbs in your headlights if they’ve burnt out. Your lights are going to be your best friends during the dark days of winter. However, do what you can to avoid using your brights during rain or snowstorms. Not only will your brighter lights reflect off of any standing snow, they’ll make it significantly more difficult for other drivers to see obstacles on the road.

Checking in with your engine

Older cars may not respond well to the change in temperature that winter brings. Even newer cars, though, will benefit from an engine assessment as the weather begins to shift. Sometimes, the wiring in your engine will start to contract when the cold comes in, causing your idiot light to turn on, even if nothing’s wrong. Alternatively, you may find that colder weather requires your vehicle to use more coolant, or anti-freeze, than it normally would.

If you feel like you can properly assess the state of your car without taking it to a professional, then be sure to look below the hood before the winter months hit. Alternatively, have a professional replace your coolant and check over your wiring before you head out to see family for the winter holidays.

careful driving in winter

Is your driving style winter-proof?

Even the most cautious drivers will have a difficult time navigating a snowstorm on the most dangerous roads in Ireland. That’s why it’s important to know, before the bad weather hits, whether or not you need to adjust your driving style to suit the season.

If you find yourself driving in the midst of a sleet or snowstorm, be sure to slow down, regardless of how quickly other drivers are taking to the road. You’ll also want to leave a fair amount of follow room between yourself and any other cars on the road. If you have room to manoeuvre, you’ll be able to better handle any unexpected changes in trajectory. Likewise, travelling at a slower speed will keep you from causing undue damage to your car or another person’s car if you happen to lose control of your vehicle.

Note that a driver’s reaction time will be impaired by bad weather, regardless of their driving style. As such, take care to only drive if you’re feeling alert and like you can respond to the ever-changing state of the road.

packing emergency kit

Packing an emergency kit

If you do happen to go off the road in the winter, you’d better have an emergency kit in your car. These kits should include:

  • Bottled water

  • A first aid kit

  • Non-cotton blankets or overshirts

  • Jumper leads

  • Non-perishable snacks

  • A high-visibility vest

  • A GPS or spare cell phone 

Staying in: better to be safe than sorry

While you don’t have to become a hermit the first time the weather gets bad (which, in Ireland, is impossible) there may be times this winter when it’s safer for you to stay at home than it is for you to embark on a holiday. 

Be sure to check the weather before you head out. Does the road seem primed for black ice? Is your destination in the midst of the torrential storm? If so, wait a few hours, or see if you can’t reschedule your trip. It’s a pain, yes, but it’s better to rework your schedule than it is to get into an accident in the midst of bad weather.