Winter Car Hire - Things to Be Aware Of Whilst Driving Abroad

Thinking of going away this winter? Perhaps you're considering taking to the ski-slopes or taking a trip with the kids to meet Santa Claus in Lapland?

Whilst many people choose not to hire a car when driving abroad there are always those who want access to a car - especially when travelling to your ski lodge or chalet.

Whatever you're planning it's important to make sure you're aware of how extreme weather conditions such as ice and snow can affect your driving. If you’re well prepared for driving in winter conditions you may help to avoid accidents and therefore avoid claiming on your car hire excess insurance.

So what should you be aware of when checking your hire car?

Tyre Requirements

It is important to ensure that your tyre tread is at least 3mm in many countries, however, the likes of the Czech Republic now require tyre treads to be 4mm as a minimum when driving in wintery conditions. This is just one example - we recommend that you check the necessary tyre tread for each country. has a good guide on winter tyre tread depth for Western European countries.

It should be noted that many car hire companies may charge extra if you want winter tyres or snow chains.

Type Of Car

As weather can be unpredictable both at home and abroad during the winter season, it's important to ensure you have the right car for the conditions. In Iceland, for example, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended - especially if you're considering taking to Iceland's famous ring road.

Snow Driving Emergency Equipment

It's important to ensure you are carrying the right emergency equipment in your car whilst driving, especially in wintery conditions. We recommend taking the following:

  1. A tow rope
  2. A shovel
  3. De-Icing Equipment
  4. A torch (with fresh and spare batteries)
  5. Warm blankets for you and your passengers
  6. Emergency rations
  7. A charged mobile phone


Many car hire companies will offer car hire insurance, however, taking out cover with the car hire business could be far more expensive (and less comprehensive) than cover provided by an insurance provider - such as

It's also really important to note that without sufficient car hire excess insurance you - as the driver - could be facing additional costs - including the responsibility of any damage caused by a road accident.

This is yet another reason why winter tyres or snow chains are recommended whilst driving in ice and snow abroad as they could help to reduce the likelihood of an accident. By not having these, if it is a legal requirement to have chains or winter tyres fitted, you could end up incurring further costs.

For tips on winter driving we suggest reading "Winter Car Hire Tips: Driving In The Ice & Snow".