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Thursday, 08 December 2011 13:50

Driving a Hire Car in Wintry Conditions

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Driving a hire car in winter can be a nerve-wracking experience, particularly when a simple scratch could leave you open to hundreds of pounds in charges.  The last couple of winters have been bleak across Europe, so if you're planning on renting a car in the winter months it pays to be prepared.

We have compiled our 10 top tips for driving a hire car in icy and snowy conditions:

1.       Check whether the car you want to hire has winter tyres?  You may have to pay extra for these.


2.       If you're planning to drive on snowy mountain roads, it's probably worth renting a snow chain. Contact your rental company in advance to pre-book these as they may not have enough to go around on pick-up.

3.       In bad conditions drive slowly, smoothly and maintain a larger-than-usual distance from the vehicle ahead

4.       Always brake slowly allowing plenty of time. Avoid using the brake on corners or on ice.

5.       Change up gear sooner rather than later and pull away in second gear if possible.  Always use the highest practical gear at all times.

6.       If you feel wheel spin (or the traction control systems are fighting for grip), immediately stop accelerating, then apply gentle, smooth pressure.

7.       If your hire car's wheels get stuck in snow, shift into a high gear and gently go back and forth until you are free.

8.       Make sure that both you and your hire car are properly equipped for bad weather.  Wear warm clothes (have extra in the car). Ensure your hire car is topped up with anti-freeze on collection and stock up on de-icer.  Also take a window scraper and torch with you.

9.       Keep the car hire company's contact details with you at all times in case of an emergency, and make sure you know the emergency services telephone number for the country you're driving in.

10.   Allow plenty of time for journeys.  Most car rental companies charge on a 24 hour basis so if you return the car late expect to pay for the extra time.


11.   Our eleventh tip is not to leave home without one of our comprehensive car hire excess insurance policies so you have peace of mind that in the event of an accident or damage, you will not have to pay a penny*.   At up to 80% cheaper than buying the policy at the car rental pick-up desk, you can put that hard-earned money towards some new skis, a designer snow bunny outfit or a warming Gluwein or two on us (assuming you will not be doing any driving at this point!).


*Check our policy document for details.



Last modified on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 13:46
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