How should you drive a rear-wheel-drive car in snow in snow?

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Car Clinic winter

Q. I recently bought a new BMW and am a little concerned about how to handle a rear-wheel-drive car as the wintry weather approaches. Any advice?
RH, Lincoln

A. Skidding in snow and ice used to be a worry with rear-wheel-drive cars, more than with front-wheel drives, in which the weight of the engine and gearbox is over the driven wheels, helping to give them more grip. However, anti-skid technology such as traction control, antilock braking (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) make skidding in rear-wheel-drive cars less of a risk.

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If you want to take extra precautions, BMW’s winter tyre programme quotes between £700 and £2,800 for a set of four — depending on your wheel size and whether you have run-flat tyres. Your normal tyres are stored as part of the programme.

The key to preventing skids is to reduce speed, pay attention and think ahead so as to avoid sudden braking. Slow down as you enter a bend, and, when the roads are icy, always leave at least a four-second gap between you and the vehicle in front. If you see the ESC or ABS light flashing on the dashboard, the technology may have just saved you from disaster — and you’re driving too fast. Time to slow down. 
Sunday Times Driving Car Clinic: Tim Shalcross, advance driving advice

Tim Shallcross used to train AA patrols to fix cars. Now he advises the Institute of Advanced Motoring – read more from Tim here.

Email your question to or write to Car Clinic, Driving, The Sunday Times, 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF, with a daytime phone number,
your address and as much detail about your car as possible. We can’t reply in person, so don’t send original documents or SAEs. Advice is given without legal responsibility.