Looking after your vehicle in winter

What can you do to protect and look after your vehicle in winter and in snowy weather?
Looking after your vehicle in winter

Equip your vehicle with four winter tyres

Some people prefer equipping only the drive wheels of their vehicle with winter tyres to improve the vehicle’s performance when starting. This is not sufficient to guarantee optimum grip, a correct level of safety or performance. To ensure the best control of the vehicle and optimum safety, Michelin recommends equipping your vehicle with four winter tyres:

  • Equipping a front-wheel drive with only two winter tyres reduces rear grip: the vehicle risks sliding, spinning or skidding in bends.
  • Equipping a rear-wheel drive with winter tyres just at the rear means that the vehicle is unbalanced and may go straight ahead in bends.

Tyre pressure in winter

The lower the temperatures, the lower the tyre pressure. For example, if the tyre pressure is 2 bars (cold) at 20°C, it will be 1.8 bars at 0°C. As a general rule, the pressure of your tyres is lower in winter: reinflate your tyres according to the recommendations of your car manufacturer. Our advice:

  • When you check your tyre pressure cold (the tyres are at the surrounding temperature), inflate your tyres according to the car manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • When checking the tyre pressure in a garage or workshop, add 0.2 bars to the car manufacturer’s recommendations. This way you will compensate for the low external temperature and will be able to drive with a pressure adapted to the weather conditions.

Servicing your vehicle in winter

It is a good idea to prepare your vehicle before the cold weather sets in. Winter subjects cars to harsh conditions. Snow, ice, gravel and salt can all damage cars. Any fine scratches on the bodywork risk rusting and the windscreen is subjected to extreme differences in internal and external temperatures.


A tiny crack in your windscreen can suddenly grow bigger in very cold conditions. Repair any small cracks in your windscreen before the onset of winter. A moderate repair bill will always cost less than the replacement of the entire windscreen. What’s more, there’s no point in taking any extra risks in winter. While on the subject, don’t forget to check your windscreen wipers – your visibility depends on them!

Deicing windscreen washer

Make sure that your screen washer has a deicer formula. It is essential to have a full, working reservoir of screen washer in winter because windscreens become rapidly covered in a fine layer of white salt. Don’t dilute the washer with water, which could freeze when the temperatures drop below zero.


Check the condition of your battery: they can become discharged in low temperatures.


Check that the viscosity index of your engine oil is adapted to your car, because cold weather can make it denser.

Wash your car

Regularly wash your car to protect it from road salt.


Have your brakes checked. Driving in winter with poorly maintained brakes increases the risks.


Check your headlights. Winter nights are long.

When to use winter chains?

Chains can be used in the case of very thick snow. They are compulsory in some ski resorts – check before leaving. When buying chains, choose them according to your vehicle and the dimension of your tyres. Those with the most links are preferable (diagonal or ladder patterns with at least twelve struts per tyre) because they offer better contact with the ground.
Before leaving, practice mounting and dismounting them. It is never easy to have to put them on for the first time on a cold, windy day with frozen fingers, on an isolated, snow-bound mountain road. A few minutes’ practice before setting off will make the task much easier.

It is a good idea to make sure that the chains are easily accessible, together with a pair of gloves and a torch nearby (a frontal lamp is preferable – it will leave both hands free!).