Last updated: 01:00 PM ET, Tue January 05 2016

Opinion Home | Europe by Car

  • Chris Slesarchik | January 5, 2016 1:00 PM ET

    Insider Tips for Renting a Car in Winter

    Insider Tips for Renting a Car in Winter

    PHOTO: Driving in winter in Europe can be magical. (Courtesy Auto Europe)

    Winter in Europe holds a special kind of magic. Beyond the charm and beauty of this special season, travelers who visit Europe in winter will enjoy the low season prices which result from fewer tourists.

    Renting a car in Europe through Auto Europe is one of the best transport options to enjoy the continent’s most beautiful winter landscapes and experience Europe’s unique winter traditions. Think snow-covered mountains and Alpine resorts or Christmas and New Year festivities under fairytale lights.

    The only drawback is that you might be intimidated by driving in winter conditions in a foreign country. What if the roads are icy or you are required to drive with snow chains?

    It’s a good thing to think about the safety aspects, but they don’t have to put you off from renting a car. Preparation is the key to a pleasant winter car rental experience. Armed with the right equipment and this handy checklist, nothing stands between you and an unforgettable holiday!

    Best vehicles for winter driving

    After deciding on your destination, it’s time to choose the right type of car to get you there. Europeans place a lot of importance on clearing their roads in winter, so renting an SUV or 4x4 isn’t absolutely necessary. Fortunately, Auto Europe offers a wide selection of different cars. Manual transmissions are a good choice, because they allow you to slow down by shifting into a lower gear instead of using the brakes. This can help minimize slipping and sliding.

    Winter tires and snow chains

    In some European countries like Austria and Switzerland it is compulsory to drive with winter tires from November to March. Although hardly ever necessary, you are also required to have snow chains at hand in parts of Europe. Therefore, do your homework by reading up on the road safety requirements of the countries you will be visiting.

    Helpful winter equipment

    If you’re going skiing and taking your own skis or staying further than walking distance from the slopes, a ski rack is handy. Let Auto Europe help you find a location where you can reserve this equipment.

    Also, ask if your car rental provides you with an ice scraper. Keep this close by, together with a pair of water proof winter gloves, in case you have to scrape ice off of car windows in frigid temperatures. Needless to say, warm clothing and, where necessary, snow suits are essential.

    More handy tips and checks

    • Make sure the windshield wash is topped up and contains antifreeze.

    • Check local weather reports for the areas you will be travelling through before setting off.

    • Driving slowly is the golden rule in wet, icy, and snowy conditions. Braking is probably the most dangerous part of driving in snow or on ice. Thankfully, rental car fleets from major suppliers are updated with newer year models frequently, and so almost all will come equipped with anti-lock brakes.

    • In adverse driving conditions, leave much more space between you and the car in front. A six-second gap is not overdoing it.

    • Try not to let the gas tank go below half full. Fuel means heat and if you’re stuck in traffic, you don’t want to worry about running out of it.

    • Because winter driving can be more challenging than usual, consider taking out extra car rental insurance, or opt for a zero deductible rate.

    By asking Auto Europe for advice and following the rules, there is no reason to be afraid to rent a car in Europe this winter. Here’s to safe, warm travels!


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Chris Slesarchik Europe by Car

Chris Slesarchik Chris Slesarchik is a member of Auto Europe’s marketing team with a passion for discovering new and exciting places. He has worked as a European car rental reservation specialist for Auto Europe, helping clients host their own adventures exploring the world abroad.
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