Winter Car Hire Tips: Driving in the Ice and Snow

Whether you're planning to hire a car for a road trip to the Highlands of Scotland or off to the ski-slopes of France it's important to make sure you're safe whilst driving in the ice and snow during the winter months.

Driving abroad can be a little disconcerting at the best of times - you may need to adapt your driving style for local rules of the road, the various types of road you come across and having to drive on the other side. Throw hazardous weather conditions into the mix and things can get very confusing - hence, it's essential to take the a few things into consideration before taking to the road:

  1. Check that all the lights on the car are in good working order
  2. All wiper blades are in good condition
  3. Ensure that the vehicle's windscreen wash is topped up and contains antifreeze
  4. Make sure there are no warning lights on the car's dashboard
  5. Before driving - check local weather reports and weather for the areas you will be driving through
  6. Plan your route and make sure you have a "Plan B"
  7. Make sure you make others aware of your plan
  8. Check your hire car's tyres - if necessary ask for snow chains or winter tyres to be fitted
  9. Ensure your car is well fuelled-up before taking to the road

OK - now you've carried out your preliminary checks here are a few things to consider whilst driving in wintery conditions:

  1. Drive at a safe speed - do not exceed the speed limit and where snow and ice is particularly bad slow down to tackle the roads safely
  2. Where possible - stick to well-lit roads and reduce your speed if you have to take darker roads - remember - it tends to get dark earlier in the winter months
  3. Give any cars in front plenty of space on snowy or icy roads - likewise - if you find any cars or vehicles following are driving a little too close for comfort - slow down or let them pass you where it's safe to do so. Remember - driving in slippery conditions brought about by ice and snow can greatly increase your braking distance
  4. Use your hire car's de-mister and windscreen wipers to keep your windscreen as clear as possible
  5. If you get stuck whilst driving in snow then try clearing the snow from the car's wheels and put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give your tyres more grip. To find out about other essential items to take with you check out this guide to winter car hire abroad
  6. If your planned journey is quite long then consider stopping for short breaks at service stations for fresh air or a much needed cup of coffee
  7. Make sure your rental car is well fuelled up - poor weather can result in delays due to weather related incidents such as road accidents

Winter driving can be quite challenging - which is why we recommend taking out car hire excess insurance to ensure you have adequate cover should you have an accident whilst driving.

To find out more about our policies and how we can cover you – please read “What is car hire excess insurance”.