Hiring a car in the winter

Following two pandemic era Christmas periods when most people were forced to stay at home, a winter getaway has never seemed more appealing. Hiring a car offers you the freedom to explore your new surroundings at your own pace, without being bound by public transport timetables. However, the process of hiring a vehicle becomes more complex in winter, with icy and snowy conditions providing an added risk.

With this in mind, the team at Gatwick Car & Van Rental has written this article, offering some top tips for hiring a car safely during the winter.

Check the driving laws of your destination

The driving laws vary hugely across Europe. In the UK, there are very few laws regarding driving in the winter; however, countries subject to colder winters have specific laws in place. For example, authorities in France and Italy recommend that all vehicles should be equipped with winter tyres and snow chains from October – April. This is true of many other European countries – Germany, Norway and Slovakia for example – where winter tyres become mandatory by law as soon as icy conditions begin. The last thing you want to do is ruin your holiday by receiving a driving fine which could have been easily avoided, so ensure you are fully clued up on the laws of your destination.

Request vehicle winterisation

Most vehicle hire companies will offer winterisation packages for those colder months. This provides your car with all the basic necessities for driving in harsh conditions: winter tyres, snow chains or snow socks, for example. This will be a mandatory purchase in some countries; winterised vehicles offer maximum grip and traction on icy roads. However, vehicle winterisation is a great investment – even if it isn’t compulsory by law – as it offers peace of mind and an extra layer of protection against the elements.

Consider the vehicle you’ll need

If you’re going to be driving in harsh conditions, it’s important to consider the kind of vehicle you’ll need. Although it looks glamorous to cruise around in a sports car, it’s important to consider more practical vehicles when driving on icy surfaces. Cars equipped with four wheel drive offer a greater level of control and traction on difficult terrains, so are a great choice for the winter hire period. 

Consider excess insurance

Accidents happen and unfortunately this is never more true than in winter. In icy conditions, it’s easier for a small mistake to spiral out of control and cause huge damage; that’s why you should consider adding excess insurance to your vehicle hire policy. Many hire companies offer free Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), however you would still be required to pay the excess in the event of an accident. This can be a large fee and you may be hit by charges that you haven’t budgeted for. Excess insurance leaves your bank balance protected and ensures you won’t be subject to any unexpected costs. Be sure to ask your vehicle provider to add this when you’re collecting your car; your future self may just thank you!

Drive carefully

The most important rule of all is to always drive carefully, especially in wintry conditions. It takes approximately ten times longer to stop on icy surfaces when compared to normal conditions, which causes a spike in accidents. In harsh conditions, one mistake could have fatal consequences; ensure to constantly drive to the speed limit, leave yourself plenty of space and always be aware of your surroundings.


At Gatwick Car & Rental, we are ideally situated to provide vehicle hire services to those travelling in the Gatwick area. We supply a huge range of cars, MPVs, mini-buses and vans that are suitable for all weather conditions. To obtain a free quote or discuss your needs, contact a member of our friendly team today.