Especially for those of us who are travelers in the Tampa region, traveling in winter weather can present a whole host of challenges other than getting up and off the runway and to your destination. Driving isn’t particularly fun in the winter and with that in mind, we come to our topic for this month: driving a rental car in the winter.
A lot of folks will advise you to rent the all wheel drive vehicles and to spruce them up with heat warmers and the like. Honestly, it’s not a bad idea at all. But still, you’d be surprised that unless you’re in a ‘buried by snow’ city like Buffalo, you probably won’t need that and you can waste a lot of unnecessary money acquiring those features.
The simple truth of the matter is that most to all cars today are front-wheel drive and should handle well in most snowy and icy conditions. Most even come with anti-lock breaks, which we feel is a must if you’re traveling in the winter – so just be sure and ask to make sure your rental comes equipped with them.
We say this because more often than not, the most dangerous thing about driving in the cold and snow is breaking – especially on sharp curves. Anti-lock breaks help you and the car from slipping out of control. Now notice we only said ‘help’ because snow sometimes has a mind of it’s own.
Which brings us to our next point – which is to simply slow down. No matter what wing-dings you have for your vehicle of choice, none of it will do you any good if you’re driving around at 60MPH in snow. Now that being said – it’s a good idea to avoid rear-wheel drive cars altogether – particularly sports cars like Mustangs and many Cadillacs. They handle very poorly in cold, wet conditions. Stick with all wheel drive and front-wheel drive cars only!
Also be sure to keep your fluids full. Washer fluid, gas and the like. Gas is particularly important because gas equals heat, so keep as close to a full tank as you can throughout your trip.
The next piece of advice would be to simply prepare yourself. Pack warm clothes and wear them. Keep a shovel and a roadside assistance number handy. And if there was ever a time to NOT avoid car insurance – this would be it. While you can take all the precautions in the world, it’s no guarantee that others will. And with snow comes an increased likelihood of an accident being caused by something. Just be prepared for the worst!
In closing, the best thing to do is to make sure that your car is ready to drive, that you’re ready to drive yourself in the snow and that you provide yourself with the necessary safety nets in the event something bad happens. Do those three things, and you should arrive at your desired destination happy and healthy. Safe travels!