Winter car rental: how to choose the right car

Nov 7, 2023

Winter car rental

Driving in winter giving you chills? With plunging temperatures and unpredictable weather conditions, it’s no wonder why.

In this blog post, we’ll see how using a rental car can take the edge off it.

We’ll also learn about car winterization and look at some tips for staying safe on the road during the coldest months of the year.

But first, let’s see why renting a car might be the right choice for your winter travels.

Winter car rental vs. using your own vehicle

What are the advantages of winter car rental over using your vehicle? 

We’ll examine this comparison through the lens of Bolt Drive, the solution we’re most familiar with.

Let’s start with the pros:

  • Safety and reliability: all Bolt Drive cars are new, equipped with the latest safety features, and fitted with all-season tyres — ideal for milder climates with light snowfall but still safe for harsher ones.
  • Variety of options: we offer a range of vehicles, so you can choose a car that suits your needs.
  • Insurance: Bolt Drive rental cars come with insurance that offers added peace of mind on ice-covered roads with unpredictable weather.
  • Costs: with Bolt Drive, the final price is always final and includes parking fees, fuel, and insurance.
Bolt Drive winter car rental

And then, for the cons:

  • Personalisation: rental cars may lack the personal touch of your own vehicle, but you can change that — see the tips on making the most of car rental in our previous article.

So, if your private car isn’t ready or fit for winter driving, consider renting one instead.

But having the right car — rental or private — is only half the battle. The other half is preparation. 

Car winterization – everything you need to know

Preparing a car for winter is called winterization. 

All Bolt Drive cars are winter-ready, so we know the drill. 

We’ll walk you through this the process if you want to winterize your own car:

1. Tyre check

Check the vehicle you’re about to drive is fitted with the correct tyres for winter roads.

While you’re at it, make sure the tyres aren’t flat:

  • Start with a visual inspection: look for any obvious signs of deflation, such as a visibly flattened or noticeably lower tyre compared to the others. 
  • The most accurate way to check tyre pressure is with a tyre pressure gauge, which you can purchase or use for free at almost any petrol station.
  • Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual or the sticker on the driver’s side door to find the recommended tyre pressure.

Newer cars (like those in Bolt Drive’s fleet) are usually smart enough to tell you when something’s off.

2. Headlamps

Check your headlamps function correctly to ensure visibility during dark winter nights:

  • Visually inspect the headlamp lenses. Ensure they’re clean, clear, and free from dirt and snow.
  • Turn on your car’s headlights to the low-beam setting, ensuring that the left and right headlamps work correctly — with no side significantly dimmer or misaligned.
  • Then, switch to the high-beam setting and do the same.
Bolt Drive winter car rental

3. Brakes

Brakes are a vital safety feature, especially on slippery roads.

Find a safe and quiet stretch of road to test your brakes. Drive at a moderate speed and gently apply the brakes.

They should respond smoothly without pulling the car to one side, vibrating, or making unusual noises. If you experience any of these issues, it’s a sign that your brakes may need attention.

4. Washer fluid

Ensure it’s topped up to maintain a clear view of the road, and put an extra canister in the boot just in case (we sure do with our Bolt Drive cars).

This simple checklist ensures that your car is prepared for the winter conditions.

Then again, renting a car with Bolt Drive makes all these worries disappear, as our fleet is 100% winter-ready and safe.

But don’t take our word for it! Listen to our experts.

Our in-house expert on Bolt Drive safety

We met with Robert Arno, Bolt Drive’s Operations Coordinator, to learn more about user safety, winter car rental, and how to avoid getting stuck in snow.

Robert’s work helps ensure Bolt Drive cars are available 24/7, that users can easily find cars on the street and in the app, that keys are available, and that vehicles needing maintenance are repaired and safe to drive.

The car industry, in general, and Bolt Drive, in particular, are topics he’s ready to discuss for hours.

So, we asked Robert about if and why Bolt Drive rental cars are safer than privately owned ones. Here’s what he said:

“I can say for certain that Bolt Drive vehicles are safer than privately owned ones.

In addition to our cars being new, their built-in systems monitor driving conditions and pick up on harsh acceleration, braking, speeding, and drifting.

In cases of misconduct, we warn users through the Bolt app, contact them directly, or even block a vehicle’s engine to protect them and others on the road.”

When discussing winter car rental, Robert confirms that all Bolt Drive vehicles are 100% winterized and safe to use in the colder months.

“They’re fitted with all-season tyres and equipped with ice scrapers and snow brushes.”

And on Bolt Drive users getting stuck in snow

Robert does, however, recall users getting stuck in the snow: 

“From my experience, 80% of these cases are caused by incorrect parking, aggressive acceleration, or choosing the wrong road.

When drivers get stuck in snow, they make the situation worse by continuously hitting the gas and stalling even more.”

Robert admits that these cases are rare. But if they happen, here’s what he suggests to do to escape: 

Gently rock the car back and forth while slightly touching the gas pedal, and make sure you’re in drive or reverse gear.”

To avoid this situation altogether, below are some tips on adjusting your driving style to the winter conditions.

Bolt Drive winter car rental

Safety first, second, and third: winter driving tips

Whichever car you’re driving — a private or rental — always be cautious and attentive to the road conditions.

  • Slow down: reduce your speed and increase your following distance. Braking distances are longer on snow and ice, so give yourself time to react to potential hazards.
  • Smooth acceleration and braking: avoid abrupt starts and stops. Gradually accelerate to prevent wheel spin, and use gentle, steady pressure on the brakes to prevent skidding.
  • Anticipate turns and stops: plan your manoeuvres well in advance. Sudden turns or stops can lead to loss of control on slippery roads.
  • Steer into skids: if you start to skid, turn your steering wheel toward the skid to regain control to straighten the vehicle.
  • Maintain visibility: clear all snow and ice from your windows, lights, and mirrors before driving.
  • Avoid cruise control: in slippery conditions, it’s best to maintain manual control over your speed. Cruise control can make it harder to react quickly to changes in road conditions.

We hope these tips will help you stay safe on the road. 

And should the road take you to Estonia (the birth country of Bolt), here are some winter activities to consider.

Bonus point: 5 winter leisure activities in Tallinn and nearby

  1. 1 in 5 Estonians practice winter swimming. Join them!

Take a Bolt Drive car and head to the Port of Pirita, Nõmme Sports Centre, or Noblessner, where you can practice or watch this unique leisure activity.

  1. Go hiking

Hiking and wildlife spotting are popular activities in Estonia. Go to Lahemaa National Park, just an hour from Tallinn. Explore its snowy forests, frozen waterfalls, and rugged coastlines.

  1. Or skiing!

If you’re a winter sports fan, head to Kuutsemäe or Kiviõli ski resorts, about 2 hours from Tallinn and enjoy downhill skiing and snowboarding in the beautiful Estonian nature.  

  1. Try skating in Tartu. 

Estonia’s second-largest city, Tartu, is a vibrant hub of culture and history. You might have visited it countless times, but have you skated there? Lõunakeskus ice rink is your place to go if you haven’t.

  1. Experience driving on the ice roads.

Just rent a car for winter and drive to Saaremaa. This picturesque island is a bit further from Tallinn, but it’s worth the trip. And while you’re there, try going on the ice road connecting Saaremaa and Hiiumaa (the second largest island in Estonia).

Bolt Drive winter car rental

Does renting a car in winter make more sense now? It sure does to us. 

If you’re still hesitant, see our FAQs below on renting a Bolt Drive car in winter.

Winter car rental with Bolt Drive: FAQs

What are the best cars for snow in the Bolt Drive fleet?

All our cars are winter-ready and suitable for driving in winter. 

However, if you’d like to go to regions with heavy snowfall with a Bolt Drive car, we recommend choosing an all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicle, such as a Toyota Land Cruiser, Audi Etron, BMW 4 and 5 — all available on our app.*

*In applicable markets.

Can I rent a Bolt Drive car with snow tyres?

All Bolt Drive cars are fitted with all-season (studless) tyres. Studless tyres don’t damage city roads as much and are ideal for counties with milder climates and occasional snow but still safe for the harsher ones.

Do Bolt Drive cars come equipped with winter car accessories?

Yes. All Bolt Drive cars have ice scrapers, snow brushes, and an additional canister of washer fluid in the boot.

What are the safety features for snow in Bolt Drive cars?

All vehicles in our fleet are equipped with must-have safety systems like:

  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), which helps you steer in emergencies; 
  • Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), which detects if a vehicle’s on the verge of losing control;
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), which automatically takes control of a car when skidding’s detected. 

What do I do if I get stuck in snow with a Bolt Drive car?

Just contact our Customer Support team, and we’ll get you out. 

You can finish the ride if you’re in a parking zone, but please inform us that the vehicle is stuck, and you’ll earn our endless gratitude.

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