Five steps to preparing to drive in icy weather

4 x 4 vehicle drives along rurlal road after heavy snow.

Published 9 April 2021
Last updated 12 April 2022

Follow our 5-step guide and get prepared for winter driving. Learn how to clear the windscreen safely and understand the importance of journey planning.

Brrrrrr, it’s cold out there, and that means frosted windscreens and frozen roads. No need to panic, though – drivers everywhere can take the stress out of their morning commute by following these simple steps.


The first thing to remember is that preparation is key. It does not matter if the weather is fine; this is the United Kingdom and things change on an hourly basis. For that reason, it’s a good idea to carry de-icer and a scraper in the car as part of your all-weather kit. It’s also advisable to have a dry cloth to help you wipe mist from the interior windows and dry off any moisture.


In freezing conditions, it can take longer than you think to clear the windows. If your car has heated windows, these can help. But a note of caution: do not leave your car unattended with the engine running while it warms up and de-ices the windows. It only takes a moment for an opportunist thief to steal a car that’s unlocked and has the engine running.

To clear the windows, use de-icer, and if the ice is stubborn use your scraper to help shift it.


If the de-icer and scraper combination is proving ineffective, you can try using water to clear the glass. Remember that boiling water could break it, so opt for lukewarm or even cold water, as even this will be warmer than the ice and should start the process of thawing.

It’s better not to use the windscreen wipers while the glass is still icy, as you could damage the blades. Wait until the ice has melted before trying to switch them on.


You should now be well on the way to clearing the windscreen, but remember that you need to be able to see clearly through the windscreen, rear windows, side windows and mirrors before you start your journey. Poor vision is the single biggest danger to any driver, so make sure you do a thorough job and completely remove ice from all windows and mirrors before setting off.


Knowing that you’re going to have to make a journey in bad weather can be a daunting prospect. If you feel anxious, stop for a minute and ask yourself if driving is really the best option. Can you take public transport or arrange to work from home for the day? If the journey by car is absolutely necessary, then allow as much time as possible. And remind yourself that it’s possible to drive safely in challenging conditions, so long as you take it steadily.

That concludes our quick guide to preparing to drive in icy weather. For more essential tips and advice, head over to the SDFL shop.

Back to top