Winter driving advice by Lexus

Winter is a beautiful season but there are many hazards associated with driving in wintery conditions. Fortunately, the majority of these can be mitigated with careful preparation, sensible steering and throttle applications, and the correct vehicle settings.

How do these measures apply in practice? The following tips are designed to help you cope with various winter conditions and stay safe on the roads when driving your Lexus.

Winter driving: preparing your vehicle

It is said that by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail. So the first way to prepare for winter driving is to make sure the vehicle itself is ready. It is wise to keep the car regularly serviced, that the level and concentration of fluids such as screen wash and anti-freeze is correct, and that your windscreen wipers and tyres are in good condition. If possible, fit winter tyres all round, as they are specifically designed to maximise grip in low temperatures.

Keep essential items such as warm clothes, sturdy boots and food and drink in the car in case you get stranded, and keep an eye on weather forecasts and travel bulletins to make sure the route is safe.

winter driving

Ensure the vehicle’s lights are clean and working so you can see and be seen. Then, before moving off, clear frost from all the windows and mirrors, and clear any mist from inside the windows with a blast of warm air from the ventilation system. Turn your air-conditioning to a warm setting to more efficiently dehumidify the interior.

Winter driving: snowy and icy roads

The first thing to remember about driving on snowy or icy roads is that you may need up to ten times the braking distance before coming to a stop. It is therefore vital to reduce your overall speed and increase the distance between you and the car in front.

Lateral grip is similarly reduced, so bends need to be anticipated much earlier than normal. Braking on slippery bends is extremely dangerous as centrifugal force will pull you outwards into the verge or into the path of oncoming traffic. Reduce your speed smoothly and in plenty of time, and be sensible with your use of the throttle and steering.

Inputs that might be perfectly safe in the dry could be too severe in slippery conditions, potentially leading to understeer (loss of front-end traction), oversteer (loss of rear-end traction), or a total loss of grip.

Winter driving tips 01

If grip is lost under gentle acceleration, it can be regained by coming off the throttle and steering in the direction of the skid. But if grip is lost under gentle braking, keep steering in the direction that you want to travel and the anti-lock braking system will pulse the braking effort to try and maintain that course.

Many Lexus models have a button labelled ‘Snow’ near the gear shift lever. If so, use it. Activating this setting allows the sophisticated electronics to maximise grip on slippery surfaces by reducing torque to the driven wheels.

Rain and flooded roads

Water on the road increases stopping distances whether it is winter or not, so when driving in rain we would recommend doubling the normal distance between you and the car in front. Remember, too, that rain reduces visibility, so use dipped headlights, windscreen wipers and washers in order to see clearly.

winter driving

While rain itself should not cause any issues with your car, extra care should be taken to drive smoothly and to plan moves in plenty of time. Deep standing water should also be avoided for a number of reasons.

Driving too fast into standing water can lead to aquaplaning. Similar to skidding on ice, this is an extremely dangerous scenario when the tyre loses contact with the road and skates across the surface because it cannot channel away the water fast enough.

All control available through affected wheels is lost during aquaplaning and can only be regained by easing off the accelerator and brakes until the tyres make contact with the road once again. Therefore the most effective way to reduce the risk of aquaplaning is to slow down and avoid areas of standing water, if safe to do so.

Winter driving tips 07

During winter, flooded roads should be avoided as water depth cannot easily be judged. Not only does driving through a flood increase the risk of drowning the engine by ingesting water via the air intake but cars can float in as little as two feet of water.

If you do decide to cross, try to stay in the middle of the road as the deepest water is usually found near the kerbs. Remember to test your brakes after driving through the flood as water within the braking system will affect its efficiency.

Winter driving: foggy conditions

A single incident in fog can easily escalate into a multi-car accident as visibility is significantly compromised. Therefore, if it is absolutely necessary to drive in thick fog during winter, it is important to reduce your speed, switch on your headlights and fog lights (if visibility drops below 100 metres), and leave at least a three-second gap between you and the car in front.

winter driving

If it is difficult to physically see other traffic on the road, especially around junctions, roll down your window and try to listen for approaching vehicles. Finally, always try to park off the road.

When the sun is low

In winter, the angle of the sun can often be too low for your visor to mask. The effect of the glare can be reduced by keeping both the inside and outside of your windscreen clean and free of grease. Reducing speed will increase the margin of safety, as will wearing sunglasses to lessen the strength of the light entering your eyes. But do remember to remove these shades whenever the sun goes in once again.

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Read more: Lexus RX 450h – the all-weather luxury vehicle
Read more: How the Lexus CT 200h defends you against the cold


  1. I have a lexus c200h. Just going on 2 years now. Its been a very good little car with the exeption of little power, high revving and noisy engine at motorway speeds and a very tiny boot. Always drove well. However, we had approx 3cm of snow today and the car is out and out dangerous. I had to leave the lexus and take my run around car which is a 2005 ford focus to drive out of my street and for the onward journey. There was very little sliding or problem with the old car, yet the lexus seemed to trigger every safety device in its electronic arsenal and stop the car completely whilst on a hill, leaving the battery heavy car to slide sideways at every opportunity. I will need to replace this car as its not safe for my wife and young daughter to drive if we ever have the least dusting of snow again. Really needs looking at Lexus technical. Everything else about the Lexus customer journey has been exceptional until this im afraid.

    1. Hi Tommy.
      Your experience is one every driver of a rear wheel drive vehicle will have experienced.
      I have been stuck in a flat car park before due to a dusting of snow!
      Winter tyres are the way forward if you want to keep the car and often have to drive in such conditions.

    2. Must be your driving skills, I’ve driven my CT200H in thick snow with no problems. Have you checked your tyres.

  2. Hello! I have a Lexus LS200 diesel and last winter I got trouble to run the car when the temperature outside went below zero. I changed the battery thinking it was the problem, but it wasn’t. I always have the antifreeze fluids on the correct amount. But the car didn’t start again until 3 days of snow finished and didn’t start twice before that. Anyone can tell me what can I do this year to avoid this problem?

    1. Hi Monica,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are sorry to hear that you are experiencing these issues. With this kind of problem, we would recommend for you to contact your local Lexus Centre so that they can assist you further.


    1. Hello Kathy,
      Thanks for your comment.
      It is best to advise on following the guidance given in your Online Owners manual on this system.
      This is because certain operations may differ depending on model or specification.
      Please let us know if you have any further questions.

  3. Hi,
    I have had the UX250h model for two years and it has been fabulous from the first day. (Fingers crossed) It has started every day without fail in all weather and has driven perfectly. It is obviously much heavier than an old vauxhall corsa that we had many year ago which was a snow mobile. I found the Lexus difficult to drive in the snow and certainly would not attempt to drive in snow without winter tyres, it is just not worth the worry .

  4. Hi,I recently purchased a ux250 h,f sport,my query is a used to drive a Corolla hybrid.This had a b mode which braked the engine,and slowed down the car on a hill descent,and in traffic.Is there any drive mode on the ux to simulate this,I think it would be useful in snow.

    1. Hello David,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Please can you provide your vehicle registration so we can look into this for you.

  5. I drive a Lexus 450h and am concerned about safe wading depth in flooded waters. Are the electric motors at risk?

      1. Hi. I have the same question — what is the wading depth of a 450h (DN72XXP)? I am thinking of buying this car but must have some idea of its wading capability before doing so. Thanks.

  6. Hi I own a Lexus nx200h and had a slight problem during the last snow here in Ireland, the car lost traction completely, is there a recommended setting for driving in the snow? Eco, normal or sport or manual gearbox, using the triptonic.? Was disappointed with the Lexus grip and have had less expensive better cars.

    1. Hello Brian,
      Thank you for contacting Lexus.
      Many Lexus models have a button labelled ‘Snow’ near the gear shift lever.
      Activating this setting allows the sophisticated electronics to maximise grip on slippery surfaces by reducing torque to the driven wheels.
      We would recommend checking your Owner’s Manual to see what options area available to you.
      Also, if possible, fit winter tyres all round, as they are specifically designed to maximise grip in low temperatures.

  7. I have an RX 450h f sport. 2021.
    Previous models have had a snow mode. I can’t find it on this car.
    Am I missing something or has it been discontinued?

    1. Hello Bill, thanks for your question.

      Please provide your Vehicle Registration so that we can look into this.


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