About Winterization

Germany

German law requires winter tires when driving in “wintry” conditions. The penalty if you are caught driving in snow without them, is about €40. Worse, however, you may be financially liable if you don’t have them and are involved in an accident on snow. And, since you would be breaking the law, driving without winter tires might also void your insurance coverage.

During the period November 1-March 31, winter tires are included in the quoted rates of most German rental suppliers, including Avis, Europcar, and Hertz.

The good news is if you’re not in the mountains, your chances of actually driving on snow are pretty low. And when it does snow in Germany, roads are quickly cleared.

Austria

Winter tires are mandatory and included in the basic rental car price.

Switzerland

Winter tires are also mandatory here and usually included in the basic rental car rates.

France

Europcar, which dominates the France rental car market, offers winter tires only on a few vehicles at a high cost. Hertz has snow equipment on request at only a few, mostly high altitude, stations.

Italy

Drivers are required to carry snow chains in certain regions of Italy in the November-March period. They are usually are not an extra charge. Snow tires, however, are generally not available on rental cars in Italy.

Other Countries

Four-wheel drive vehicles in all countries are scarce and expensive. Some companies no longer offer tire chains as extra equipment. Some drivers feel more comfortable with front-wheel drive cars in ice and snow, though no rental company will guarantee front-wheel drive. 

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