Winter Car Rental Tips: It’s Not All About Four-Wheel Drive


Are you renting a car as part of your holiday travel? Some people will tell you to make sure you rent an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle for winter driving, which is not a bad idea.

The truth is most new cars these days are front-wheel drive and handle fairly well in moderate snow. What you do want to make sure you get is a car with an anti-lock braking system. In general, the most dangerous part of driving in the snow is braking, particularly on a curve.

The big key is to adjust your driving for the conditions and make sure the car is prepared. Here are a few tips:

1) Slow down. And leave much more space between you and the car in front. In adverse driving conditions, there should be a six-second gap. At 55mph, that’s 486 feet between cars. Yes, more than a football field.

2) Make sure the car has all-season tires in good condition. Also check the spare.

3) Fill the gas tank when it goes below half. You don’t want to run out if you find yourself in a bad traffic jam or if you get stranded—fuel means heat.

4) Be sure you have a full tank of washer fluid.

5) Bring enough warm clothes—you probably won’t get stranded for many hours, but if you do, warm layers could literally be a lifesaver.

6) Pick up an inexpensive shovel at a hardware store and toss it in the trunk, since there may be a good chance you’ll be in a less-populated area with lots of snow

7) Keep the rental company’s roadside assistance number handy.

8) Make sure you have good insurance—it might even be a good time to pay for the rental company’s collision damage waiver.

Driving in snow and making sure the rental car is ready for it involves a bit of patience. Like other patient acts of travel, it has its rewards. In this case, when you arrive safely at your destination, you can careen down a hill on some kind of sled, ski, or board and whoop like a maniac. That sounds like a happy holiday to me.

Information from by Eric Jordan.


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