When it comes to driving in heavy snow, safety should always be the top priority. Snowy conditions can make roads slippery and visibility poor, increasing the risk of accidents. This is especially true when driving a rental car, as you may not be familiar with the vehicle or the area. In this article, we will discuss some important tips to maximize safety when renting a car in heavy snow. From choosing the right vehicle to driving techniques, these tips will help ensure a safe and stress-free journey.
Choosing the right vehicle
When renting a car in heavy snow, it is important to choose a vehicle that is suitable for the conditions. Here are some factors to consider:
- All-wheel drive or four-wheel drive: These types of vehicles provide better traction on slippery roads, making them a good choice for snowy conditions.
- Snow tires: Look for rental cars that are equipped with snow tires. These tires have better grip on snow and ice, improving the vehicle’s handling.
- Size and weight: Larger and heavier vehicles tend to perform better in snowy conditions, as they have more stability and traction.
Preparing the car
Before hitting the road in heavy snow, it is important to prepare the rental car properly. Here are some steps to follow:
- Clear snow and ice: Remove any snow or ice from the windows, mirrors, lights, and roof of the car. This will improve visibility and prevent snow from falling onto other vehicles.
- Check the wipers and defroster: Make sure the windshield wipers are in good condition and the defroster is working properly. Clear visibility is crucial when driving in heavy snow.
- Top up fluids: Check the levels of windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, and oil. It is important to have enough washer fluid to keep the windshield clean and clear.
- Keep a snow brush and ice scraper: Carry a snow brush and ice scraper in the car to remove snow and ice as needed.
Driving in heavy snow requires special techniques to ensure safety. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Drive slowly: Reduce your speed and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. This will give you more time to react to any unexpected situations.
- Brake gently: Apply the brakes gently to avoid skidding. If the car starts to skid, release the brakes and steer into the skid until you regain control.
- Use low gears: When driving downhill or on slippery roads, use a lower gear to maintain better control of the vehicle.
- Avoid sudden maneuvers: Avoid sudden acceleration, braking, or steering, as these actions can cause the car to lose traction.
- Use headlights: Turn on your headlights to improve visibility, even during the day. This will make it easier for other drivers to see you.
In case of an emergency or breakdown, it is important to be prepared. Here are some items to have in the car:
- Emergency kit: Carry a basic emergency kit that includes a flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a blanket, and some non-perishable food items.
- Cell phone and charger: Make sure you have a fully charged cell phone and a car charger in case you need to call for help.
- Extra clothing and blankets: Keep some extra warm clothing and blankets in the car to stay warm in case you get stranded.
- Reflective triangles or flares: These can be used to alert other drivers if your car is stopped on the side of the road.
Driving a rental car in heavy snow can be challenging, but with the right preparation and driving techniques, you can maximize safety. Choosing the right vehicle, preparing the car, and following safe driving practices are essential for a safe and stress-free journey. Remember to always prioritize safety and be prepared for emergencies. By following these tips, you can enjoy your winter travels without compromising on safety.
- Can I use snow chains on a rental car?
It is best to check with the rental car company before using snow chains. Some companies may allow it, while others may have specific policies regarding snow chains.
- Do I need to purchase additional insurance for driving in heavy snow?
It is advisable to check your existing insurance policy and consult with the rental car company. Some policies may already cover driving in heavy snow, while others may require additional coverage.
- What should I do if I get stuck in the snow?
If you get stuck in the snow, try rocking the car back and forth by shifting between forward and reverse gears. If this doesn’t work, you may need to call for roadside assistance.
- Are there any additional fees for returning a rental car covered in snow?
Some rental car companies may charge an additional cleaning fee if the car is returned excessively dirty, including being covered in snow. It is best to check with the company beforehand.
- Should I rent a car with snow tires even if I am not driving in heavy snow?
Snow tires can provide better traction on wet and icy roads as well, so it may be a good idea to rent a car with snow tires even if you are not driving in heavy snow.