Winter Driving Tips

Driving through ice and snow presents a unique set of challenges, especially for drivers without experience traveling in wintery conditions. Understanding the basics of preparing your vehicle and driving safely in inclement weather can be helpful when it comes to winter travel. 

Because icy roads and lower visibility in snowstorms can make for difficult winter driving, it’s important to exercise as much caution as possible and prepare beforehand. Here are a few winter driving tips to keep in mind to help navigate cold weather challenges safely and confidently.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Winter Driving

As important as it is to choose a vehicle made to stand up to the elements and winter weather conditions, it’s equally important to take measures to prepare your vehicle before driving in cold weather. Here are a few tips:

  • Remove snow from your vehicle: Before driving, be sure to brush snow and ice from the hood, roof, and rear of your vehicle. Not only can this help prevent snow from obscuring your view, but it can also help keep other drivers safe, too, lowering the risk of snow and ice flying off your vehicle and onto theirs. In addition to a manual brushing, your interior defrost/defog button can also help clear frost and ice from your windshield and front door windows.
  • Keep mirrors clear of snow: Optional Subaru features like heated exterior mirrors can help quickly remove snow and frost from your vehicle’s side mirrors, making sure you have full visibility on the road.
  • Use your headlights: LED Steering Responsive Headlights are standard on all Subaru vehicles. This innovative feature aims your headlights in the direction you’re turning instead of just beaming directly in front of your vehicle. Not only does using your headlights increase your visibility to other drivers, it helps you more easily see the road ahead and around corners when driving through snow or sleet.
  • Warm up your car with Remote Start: After you’ve finished brushing snow off your car, you might feel a bit of a chill. Before you pull out of your driveway, adjust your vehicle’s inside temperature to make your drive more comfortable. The MySubaru app allows you to use the Remote Engine Start with Climate Control feature to help your car warm up before you head out the door, and to ensure the interior temperature of your vehicle is pleasantly toasty by the time you get in.

Safe Driving Tips for Snow and Ice


Many drivers do not realize that they may have to make adjustments when driving in ice and snow. Even with the power of the Subaru Symmetrical All Wheel Drive (AWD) system engaged, providing extra traction and stability when it detects slippage, it’s important to practice safe winter driving habits when navigating snow-covered roads: 

  • Drive slowly: Reduce speed as necessary to match road conditions and give yourself more reaction time.
  • Accelerate and decelerate carefully: Apply gentle, gradual pressure to gas and brake pedals to avoid skidding or losing control.
  • Take turns cautiously: Pivoting around curves can cause skidding, especially if you over rotate your steering wheel. Instead, make turns slowly, with minimal wheel rotations. This way, if skidding occurs, you are less likely to swing out of control.
  • Use wipers and headlights: Keep your windshield wipers and headlights on to maximize visibility, especially in instances of winter precipitation.
  • Master brake usage: Brake early and gradually to avoid skidding, as you may be unaware of patches of black ice on the road. Subaru vehicles are equipped with a 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), helping you maintain firm and continuous pressure on the brake pedal to aid braking on slippery roadways.

Handling Long-Distance Winter Trips

With a few precautions and a properly equipped vehicle for ice and snow, it’s possible to plan a long-distance trip responsibly during winter months. Here are a few tips to help you prepare: 

  • Check the weather: Take stock of weather forecasts before traveling. If dangerous conditions are predicted, reschedule or cancel plans when possible. Always prioritize safety.
  • Plan your route: Stick to main roads that are more likely to be plowed, salt-treated, and better-maintained in wintry conditions.
  • Stay informed and connected: Use the SUBARU STARLINK® Safety and Security system or your own navigation app to monitor traffic updates and potential road closures that could interfere with your trip. Tune your radio to local AM stations for the most up-to-date information.
  • Carry a winter emergency kit: Stock your vehicle with any essentials you might need if you get stranded in unpassable conditions. Your kit should include a flashlight, a small shovel or tool for digging around tires, a blanket, a first aid kit, and non-perishable snacks.
  • Maintain gasoline levels: Keep at least a half tank of fuel in your vehicle to avoid fuel line freezing and other issues.
  • Travel during the day: Take advantage of better visibility during daylight hours whenever possible.
  • Have a plan if you get stuck: Sometimes getting stuck in the snow happens – even if you take plenty of precautionary measures. Should you find yourself stranded, remain calm and stick to your plan.
    • Use your emergency kit for warmth and sustenance.
    • Run your vehicle’s engine intermittently rather than constantly; make sure no snow is blocking your exhaust pipe.
    • Reach out to roadside assistance using the on-board STARLINK system (if equipped) for quick access to emergency services. In the case of a collision, STARLINK services may have been automatically notified.
    • Contact your destination to alert them of your situation.

Stay safe on winter roads with a Subaru. Explore winter-ready vehicles!

Between our Symmetrical AWD system, SUBARU STARLINK Safety and Security, and the signature rugged design shared by many models, Subaru SUVs and cars make outstanding winter driving companions.

Explore the Subaru vehicle lineup.