4×4’s & Winter Tyres: Which do I need?

Hiring a car in the winter period can be quite an arduous task, with conflicting information all over the internet on what is mandatory when and where. Hopefully the below will help clear this up and simplify it for you.

Winter Tyres:

Winter Tyres are tyres made from a different compound that prevents the rubber from hardening in low temperatures – ideal for driving in harsh conditions. There are quite a lot of countries that do indeed require winter tyres throughout the winter period (typically 30th November – 1st March). It is important to note that when collecting a car in certain countries during this time the car will come already fully equipped with winter tyres, here is a list of those countries:

AustriaBelarusBosnia & HerzegovinaCzech Republic
EstoniaFinlandGermanyIceland
LatviaLithuaniaLuxembourgMacedonia
MoldovaMontenegroRomaniaRussia
SerbiaSloveniaSwedenSwitzerland

If you are collecting a car elsewhere and taking the car into one of the above countries then you need to make sure you hire a car with guaranteed winter tyres – for example winter tyres are not often guaranteed in France, even near the Alps, but we can arrange an option with them if you speak to us directly, allowing you to take the car into Switzerland. One that trips a lot of people up in particular is Geneva Airport, as you can end up hiring a car from the French side without winter tyres and then take it directly into Switzerland – which can cause huge problems! There are also countries that don’t require winter tyres but do require at least snow chains, such as most of Northern Italy. If in doubt, it’s worth just contacting us directly so we can advise you on what is and what isn’t necessary.

Another important distinction to make is that winter tyres and all-weather tyres are not the same thing. When they are fully sold out of winter tyre options some suppliers will encourage you to take all-weather tyres instead, however these would not be accepted if you are taking the car into a country that requires fitted winter tyres.

4×4 Rental Cars

4×4’s on the other hand are not mandatory anywhere really, except for very niche cases like specific roads in Iceland during the summer months. This means that when you are renting a car with winter tyres it’s not guaranteed to be a 4×4 also. That being said, it’s undeniable that a 4×4 is much preferred if you do have to drive in winter conditions, so while not necessary we can still arrange these at most locations on request. In countries like France where winter tyres are not mandatory it can also be an easier / cheaper option to rent a 4×4 instead of a car with winter tyres.

Hopefully this has provided some clarity on winter tyres for you, but again feel free to contact us directly if you have any further questions, or if you are looking for a hire with guaranteed winter tyres or 4WD. You can contact us directly via email to [email protected] or by phone on 0113 88 00 748.