A Subaru is a great four-wheeled companion for drivers who want to sling loads of outdoor gear (and the dog) into the car and head for the beach or the hills when the sun is shining and the mercury is rising. But it’s an even better choice when the temperature starts to drop – because a Subaru really comes into its own in wintry weather.
When Mother Nature sends her frosty, icy, snowy and often-incessantly-rainy weather fronts our way, you can rely on the outstanding capabilities of our cars. Combine that with famed Subaru reliability – something that’s more important than ever in adverse weather – and you’ll find our vehicles deliver trustworthy performance that keeps you on the move and gets you to your destination with a smile on your face. Meanwhile, the advanced safety systems that are fitted to every Subaru as standard will provide you and your passengers with the best possible protection at every turn.
What will you be facing on your local roads this winter?
Will you need superior ground clearance to get through inevitable local flooding? Do you know that you almost always need to be able to steer through shin-deep snow on little-used country lanes or tiptoe your way along ice-bound tracks? Perhaps you’re more likely to see just a slight, yet still very slippery, dusting of snow on a well-frequented road surface? Wherever you live and wherever you’re heading, there’s no doubt whatsoever that we’ll all experience driving rain at some point – and the potentially treacherous effect that has on both grip and visibility. So what are your winter driving plans?
We love this time of year
We don’t call it winter. We call it Subaru season.
From one day to the next, none of us really know what challenges the weather will bring. But you can be certain about one thing – come rain, shine or snow, a Subaru is always ready to get out there.
That’s because our cars are built to be Better Where It Matters – we put safety, capability and reliability above all else. It means that they take the adverse weather that we invariably experience across the UK during this colder, darker season in their stride. You might even say that our SUVs and Crossovers relish the challenge presented by road surfaces affected by mud, ice, snowfall or minor flooding – not to mention field crossings and other off-road routes. Whatever the weather and road conditions you’re likely to encounter this winter, our vehicles are happy to be put to the test.
Up and down steep hills, traversing twisty country lanes or simply driving along your local dual carriageway, your Subaru will feel supremely sure-footed – carrying you and your family safely and confidently to your destination.
All-wheel capability for all-season confidence
How your car handles and performs in different road and weather conditions is key to driver confidence. Our SUVs – Forester, XV and Outback – boast exceptional credentials in this area.
Always-on Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (SAWD), working with Subaru’s unique Boxer engine, constantly delivers the right amount of power to the right wheel at the right time, to give drivers optimal grip and control in all conditions. In more challenging conditions, X-MODE with Hill Descent Control can take command of the engine, transmission, braking and SAWD system to provide the best traction on slippery ground. You can rest assured that our SUVs are supremely capable and superbly reliable, in any weather.
Impressive ground clearance adds to your confidence when navigating rutted tracks or fording minor floods – 220mm for both Forester and XV, and 200mm for Outback, our rugged crossover estate.
For Subaru, advanced safety is not optional
When the wind whips up, the rain alternates between lashing down and slanting sideways, and puddles start to develop an icy sheen, the safety, capability and reliability of your car becomes an even greater priority.
Of course, if you already drive a Subaru, you’ll fully appreciate the value of all the advanced safety features that we fit as standard to our vehicles.
All Subaru SUVs, plus Levorg and Impreza, have the maximum 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating. And, for the second year running, Subaru was voted Best Manufacturer for Safety Features in the 2020 Driver Power survey, the UK’s number one car ownership poll. Drive a Subaru and you can be assured that you’re keeping your family as safe as possible when you’re on the move this winter.
8 essential winter driving considerations
The importance of getting to grips with the practicalities of driving in adverse weather and keeping your car in prime condition over the colder months can’t be underestimated. So below, we’ve compiled some essential winter driving tips for you:
1. Be prepared for anything
The very best tip is simply to be prepared for any situation. Consider each of the points below to make sure you’ve done everything you can to ensure your safety (and that of other road users) during any winter driving expedition. As the temperature drops, driving uncertainties typically increase. So stay alert to all eventualities.
2. Get to grips with changing road conditions
Always plan your journey. If weather conditions are particularly bad and you still need to travel, consider sticking to main roads as much as possible. These routes are more likely to be gritted, they’re more frequented – and they’re also more easily accessible to breakdown and other emergency service vehicles. Check the condition of all tyres too. Examine the tread depths as well as the pressures, because you need adequate tread depth (a legal minimum of 1.6mm but ideally 3mm) to effectively clear water, mud and snow from the tyres as you drive. With permanent AWD, a Subaru remains extremely capable on standard tyres, but you might want to consider winter tyres if you live in an area where extreme weather is expected when the temperature dips into single figures.
3. Keep your cool and stay visible at all times
Check your coolant and lights. Coolant (also known as anti-freeze) protects your engine from overheating in hot conditions and from freezing in cold conditions, so it’s important to check that it’s topped up, always using a high-quality product, before the ambient temperature drops too much. You’ll be using your lights much more during the winter months – both to illuminate the route ahead and to ensure others see you – so make sure they’re clean and fully functioning before every trip.
4. Show your screen some extra care
It’s vitally important to ensure you have a clear view all around your vehicle at all times, but especially in darker, wetter, windier conditions. You’ll be using a lot more screen wash during the winter months, so keep spare supplies at home (and some in the boot) and keep it topped up – at the right concentration to ensure it doesn’t freeze in the reservoir, the pipes, the spray nozzles or as it hits the windscreen itself. You’ll need to check your windscreen wipers too and clean the blades occasionally. Be particularly careful in frosty weather, when the rubber of the blades can easily become frozen to the screen, and then damaged as you ease them away in the morning. Spreading a screen protector (or an old blanket) over the windscreen at night and folding the wipers down on top can prevent this problem and also save you the task of de-icing in the morning. You’ll still need to scrape any ice off your side windows and lights though. And if it’s snowed before you travel, clear all snow from your car’s roof, windows and bonnet, so it doesn’t fall off mid-journey and obstruct you or drivers following behind.
5. Keep ‘emergency supplies’ in your car
You never know if, or when, you’re going to get into trouble during winter driving. You could easily become stuck even if it’s not your fault (or your car’s) – if you’re held up in a queue behind a lorry that’s jack-knifed on a snowy incline, for example. And if the traffic stops for any length of time, things can turn chilly very quickly. So make sure you travel with a blanket, hat, scarf, gloves and an extra jacket in the boot – just in case. Keep your fuel topped up, and you’ll be able to switch the engine on to run the heating every now and then to keep you warm. Have some water (maybe even a flask of a hot drink) with you, and some food to keep you going too. Keep your mobile phone charged and a torch to hand. Stashing a spade in the boot, and maybe a tow rope too, can sometimes prove very useful. Having a pair of wellies with you inside the car is also always a good idea. And no, that doesn’t come as standard with a Subaru!
6. Drive steadily and cautiously
When the weather closes in, stopping distances lengthen dramatically: you’ll typically need twice the time to stop suddenly in the rain, and 10 times as long in icy conditions. So take it steady and maintain an extra safe distance from the car in front of you. Get into the habit of looking further ahead as you drive, so that you’re scoping out the flow of the road and any upcoming bends, as well as the immediate area in front of your vehicle. Try to drive as smoothly as possible, without any sudden acceleration, braking or steering movements, and you’ll be supporting the way your car’s own systems work to ensure optimum stability and traction.
7. Be mindful of the threat of floods and surface water
In very wet conditions, it’s common to encounter local flooding and standing or streaming water on some road surfaces. Don’t underestimate the danger of “just a bit of water”. If you need to navigate a flooded road, only do so if you’re certain that the water is not fast-flowing and is no deeper than the centre of your car’s wheels. Drive in the middle of the road, because it’s higher there than at the edges, and wait to allow one car to pass through at a time. Drive slowly but purposefully, maintaining engine revs while also minimising the waves your vehicle will naturally create. If you come across water on the surface of a road, drop your approach speed but don’t brake as you hit it, as that’s likely to cause you to lose traction. If you do feel the car aquaplaning, continue to coast through the water and steer in a straight line, using smooth movements, to maintain control. Be considerate of your fellow road users and try to minimise the splash and spray you cause for others while crossing water.
8. Adapt your driving style for snow and ice
In deepest winter conditions, maintaining control in the presence of snow and ice on the road surface is a common challenge. And it’s not something to be taken lightly, especially when it’s so hard to spot patches of black ice in advance. Again, slow and steady is the way forward. Accelerate, brake, steer and change gear smoothly at all times, leaving plenty of space for other road users – while also keeping a careful eye on the progress and possible sideways movements of vehicles around you. If you find yourself in a slide, don’t panic. If the front wheels start to slip, ease off the accelerator and straighten the steering for a moment to enable the tyres to regain grip. If the rear of the car starts to drift, steer into the slide. So if the rear of the car is slipping left across the road, you also steer hard left to help straighten the car. Always look where you want the front of the car to point, as this will help you go in the right direction. But preventing a skid in the first place is the best way to approach winter driving. Finally, also bear in mind that many road signs and markings, and the edges of the road itself, could easily be obscured in snowy conditions, so be alert to the layout of the route ahead.
Why not book a free winter health check?
Are you and your car now well prepared for the season ahead? One of the easiest ways to ensure your vehicle is winter-ready is to book it in with your local Subaru dealer.
Our free Subaru Winter Health check takes just 30 minutes and gives you peace of mind that you’re ready to face the worst of the weather that’s heading our way over the coming months.
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