Guidance & Reports

The car rental industry provides consumers with affordable, sustainable, pay-as-you-go mobility. As long as some simple steps are followed, the rental process should be straightforward.

Renting a car in Europe:

The following guide is designed to take you through everything you need to know about renting a car, from booking and pick-up to return, both at home and abroad. It explains common practice, what you should expect, and lists your rights and responsibilities.

Winterisation of a rental vehicle:

The winterisation charge is an optional charge which is available at locations where they have severe winter weather, particularly at European ski destinations.

This charge usually covers the cost of kitting the rental vehicle out with winter equipment, such as snow chains, winter tyres etc. But it is important for the customer to confirm with the rental company what is included.

In some locations where severe winter weather is expected, winterisation of vehicles is a legal requirement, whether it be snow chains or winter tyres. It is the responsibility of the driver and not the rental company to ensure that the hire car is suitably equipped for the wintery conditions they are driving in. This can be a challenge when the rules on winter tyres and snow chains differ from country to country. Therefore, prior research conducted by the customer is recommended to ensure they comply with legislation and regulations for the country they are visiting.

For example, in the Alps it is commonplace to see police roadblocks on the approach to ski resorts and the police may well refuse entry to a car without chains if it's a designated 'snow chain' area. The driver may also have to pay a fine.

As rental companies will not always be aware of a customer’s travel plans it is important that the customer researches the requirements of the area they are travelling to and advise the rental company of their needs.

One element of renting a vehicle in a sub-zero temperature country, which gets overlooked, is the fuel type. Like any other liquid, when fuel is exposed to sub-zero temperatures, particularly when travelling up mountains, the fuel can freeze. This will cause substantial damage to the vehicle and the customer will be liable for the damage cost. Once the fuel has frozen, the vehicle will not start and therefore road-side assistance will need to be called out, incurring another additional charge.

Therefore, it is imperative that customers ensure they request winterised fuel if their plans involve travelling up a mountain. This may come at an additional cost, but it will be cheaper than paying the damage cost if the standard fuel freezes.

Further information on winter driving is available from the RAC.

Annual reports: