Winter Driving Checklist: How to Stay Safe in a Rental Car

With winter around the corner for many countries, there's a definite chill in the air. While most drivers are unlikely to face conditions as severe as those recently witnessed in Upstate New York, it pays to plan ahead to ensure you and your passengers stay safe, no matter where you plan to drive.

Ensure Your Rental Car Is up to the Job

You should be picking up your rental car in a roadworthy condition, but you should always confirm with your chosen hire company that the car you will be driving is up to date with its servicing. If you're renting a car for an extended period over the holidays, there are some basic checks that you should perform yourself before each journey.

  • Check there are no dashboard warning lights for the car battery
  • Ensure wiper blades are clean and in good condition
  • Top up windscreen wash with a product containing antifreeze
  • Check that each light on the car is working correctly
  • Ensure the tyres, including the spare, are in good condition
  • Check weather reports for the areas where you will be driving
  • If conditions are particularly treacherous, ask yourself whether your journey is necessary
  • Plan your route, including alternatives, and communicate your plans to others.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

It never hurts to expect the unexpected. A clean bill of health for your rental car doesn't mean much if you find yourself trapped by a sudden blast of severe weather. Be prepared for all eventualities by putting together an emergency kit. Some of these items may be included in your rental.

  • Reflective warning lights in case of breakdown or accident
  • Snow shovel, snow brush, ice scraper, de-icer and bag of sand or cat litter
  • Jumpstart cables in case of a flat battery
  • Wind-up torch or a regular torch with spare batteries
  • Extra clothes and warm blankets for everyone in the car
  • First aid kit and any essential medications
  • Drinking water, a flask with a warm drink, and non-perishable food items
  • A fully charged mobile phone
  • A copy of your car rental policy and excess policy documents

Taking time to make sure you have completed all these tasks before you drive during the winter should help you, your passengers and other road users stay as safe as possible while you're using a rental car. While there's no accounting for unexpected events, these preparations will help you to avoid the most common winter-related problems. If you do encounter an issue that you're struggling to get out of, it pays to have the emergency contact number for your car hire company close at hand.