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Car hire...with winter tyres

Discussion in 'United States' started by Gregah, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. Gregah

    Gregah Addicted

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    Anyone had any luck hiring a car in the US with winter tires? The family are doing a San Francisco to Telluride via Vegas road trip in January and I can't find a car hire place that will offer winter tires. They offer all season tyres (presumably M+S?) and prohibit using chains. Snowiest bit of the trip should be along routes 160, 491 and 145 (up and over Lizard Head Pass). Am I being a nervous nelly? Anyone done those roads in a snowstorm? Are all season tyres and no chains going to cut it? Cheers.
     
  2. Beerman

    Beerman One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Gregah likes this.
  3. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    I haven't driven Lizard Head Pass in a snowstorm, but when I did drive it the daughter didn't realise we had crossed it until a few minutes after we had. It is nothing to worry about.
     
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  4. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    agrre that M&S tyres are probably sufficient, but have a look at www.sixt.com

    I remember looking a while back and they included an option for winter tires
     
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  5. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    4wd and M+S is fine. But you need to be prepared to drive to the conditions, which may include waiting out a storm. Driving in Colorado this January meant dealing with lots of snow (nice problem to have). For example, driving from Steamboat to Wolcott (on the way to Aspen) when it hadn’t snowed for several days took about 1.5 hours. On the way home, the day after a major storm, Wolcott to Steamboat took almost 3 hours. Locals with 4wd and winter tyres were zooming by but I took it very slow and steady.
     
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  6. Gregah

    Gregah Addicted

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    Thanks all. Very helpful.:thumbs:
     
  7. snowtyres

    snowtyres Addicted Ski Pass: Gold

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    M+S mark
    The M+S mark on any tyre is not a winter performance standard, it is merely a visual standard.
    It has nothing to do with how much grip the tyre actually has, or how it will stop, on snow or in icy conditions.
    A tyre with only the M+S mark is not, and can never be, a winter or snow tyre.

    The M+S designation developed in the 1970s as a way of distinguishing tyres with an
    aggressive tread patterns from cross-ply tyres with the more traditional longitudinal ribbed patterns.

    Any tyre, to be classified as a winter or snow tyre, must be marked with the 3PMSF Mountain Snowflake Alpine symbol

    Winter Tyre a tyre specifically designed & marketed for winter use & must feature the 3PMSF Mountain Snowflake Alpine symbol
    Snow Tyre a tyre specifically designed & marketed for winter use & must feature the 3PMSF Mountain Snowflake Alpine symbol
    All-weather Tyre a tyre, designed & marketed for year-round use & must feature the 3PMSF Mountain Snowflake Alpine symbol
    • M+S Tyre a summer, an all-season or an off-road tyre with the M+S mark but is not specifically designed & marketed for winter use
    Summer Tyre a tyre that is designed & marketed for summer use. It is not winter or snow tyre but may also have an M+S mark
    All-season Tyre a tyre that is designed & marketed for year-round use. It is not winter or snow tyre but may also have an M+S mark
    Changes are certainly afoot with our European counterparts in Germany, whose law makers recently updated regulations for winter weather driving. From January 1, 2018, tyres with the M+S label are no longer accepted on German roads in winter conditions. Instead, only winter and all-weather tyres with the 3PMSF Mountain Snowflake Alpine symbol will be permitted on German roads at this time.
     
  8. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    We were scheduled to drive from Canmore to Revelstoke, so checked DriveBC and the route showed to proceed cautiously. We left Canmore and drove about 80km towards Lake Louise when conditions had deteriorated so badly we saw two cars crash right in front of us, so we turned round and headed back to Banff ('orrible place) for 2 days.

    DriveBC had downgraded the route to Road Closed after we left, so if we'd carried on we would have got stuck on the road.
    Ended up with a metre of snowfall over the 24 hour period
     
  9. Gregah

    Gregah Addicted

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    Well I made it through all 18 pages of the thread Beerman posted and it was indeed excellent. Shows the power of social media when used for good and not for evil (cat memes).

    Anyway, I digress. Aside from all the great driving tips, the take outs for my hiring decision are:
    - zero chance of specifying winter tyres in a San Fran hired vehicle
    - pot luck even getting M+S tyres given "all season" is just a marketing term
    - even if I chance M+S tyres certain M+S are fit for purpose, others useless, depending on brand, model and wear. Again, no way to find out prior what you will be getting on the day.
    - use of chains might invalidate hire contracts and insurance policies but go buy yourself a pair and fit them if needed. Its your family and for $150 it's worthwhile insurance against shite tyres...
    - car rental remains a customer-contemptuous industry. Large 'brand name' car hire companies are no more reliable / truer to their word than small no name operators
    - larger and AWD equipped vehicles should provide a modicum of additional snow safety benefit (in lieu of winter tyres) so go for an SUV or pick up truck and hope its and AWD/4WD variant not a cheaper 2WD variant
    - be prepared to take your angry pills and push hard at pick up time for what you actually booked but weren't given

    All in all, a friggin lottery!
     
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  10. Gregah

    Gregah Addicted

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    After a bit more thought and a couple of stiff G&Ts I'm inclined to not pre-book, rather hire at the airport (SFO) on arrival so I can eyeball the car and tyres etc. I understand I'll pay more for doing it this way but being inexperienced at this hire car thing I have no idea how much more. Anyone have any idea what sort of % premium a hire-on-the-day versus a pre-book-10-months-in-advance approach typically attracts? Cheers.
     
  11. summit_32

    summit_32 Hard Yards

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    Gregah - we did a 5-week odyssey through Utah, California and Montana (mainly) during Dec / Jan this year. Rented 4WD through Hertz - has an option for 4x4 version not just large SUV. (Class T) We had a newish Suburban with all the options, very happy with it's performance in the snow (had the standard tyres), we even did a 35-miles detour through the snow in the Grand Staircase-Escalate National Monument, with no problems! My observation was that many of the locals in Montana didn't have winter tyres either, they just drove to the conditions.

    I would book in advance - if they don't have your preference available then try others but at least you have something to fall back on.
     
  12. Gregah

    Gregah Addicted

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    Thanks summit_32. Sounds like a great trip. If I could lock in an AWD / 4x4 I think that would tip me back to booking prior. But thus far all I can find with Hertz (or any of the others) is a generic "SUV" category with nothing in the filters or optional extras areas to specify that I want my SUV to be an AWD / 4x4. Thanks for the Hertz tip though - I'll go back and have another look at them. Cheers.
     
  13. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    I'm expecting that you will pay a truckload extra - "book rates". They live for customers like you!

    I suggest you would be better off booking something now (which will probably be exactly what you want anyway), and if you are unsatisfied on arrival, negotiate an upgrade, but at least you will only be ripped off on the upgrade part and not the whole contract.
     
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  14. Townsend

    Townsend One of Us

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    A number of year ago we tied to hire a 4wd at LAX for a similar trip. Despite there being numerous SUVs available none were 4wd. We ended up flying into Las Vegas as could hire a 4wd there. Now we always fly into SLC or Montrose as suitable cars are plentiful there.
     
  15. Gregah

    Gregah Addicted

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    Thanks Townsend, good tip. We have locked our flights into San Fran though...buts its got me thinking...perhaps I take whatever I'm given in San Fran (sounds like a 2WD SUV is odds on) but when we get to Vegas go in and haggle for a swap to an AWD/4WD for our Grand Canyon & Telluride legs...
     
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  16. summit_32

    summit_32 Hard Yards

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    GCNP is awesome driving. Try and stay inside the park if you can & book ASAP as there's limited accommodation. We were approx. 40 metres from the canyon rim for a few days, with fresh snow it was magical.

    Make sure you allow some time to visit Monument Valley on the way to Telluride.
     
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  17. chicski

    chicski A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    I hired an AWD from SFO some years back. No idea on tyres but got us to/from and around Tahoe OK.Was a Ford Escape I think.

    I had booked something smaller, perhaps a Rav 4 which turned out to be 2WD, so got stung with the airport upgrade.
     
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  18. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    Last time I stayed at the Grand Canyon in winter the only place open on the South rim was the El Tovar - a grand old early 20th century hotel.

    Monument Valley is worth a look. The View Hotel is in a great position overlooking the valley.
     
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  19. summit_32

    summit_32 Hard Yards

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    El Tovar is still there in prime position - great for dinner by the fire. We stayed @ Thunderbird Lodge right next door for half the price.
     
  20. Barras

    Barras Hard Yards

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    So here is what happened with my latest trip to the US, after months of trying to book a 4WD/AWD we booked with SIXT as they could guarantee a AWD/4WD, but when I actually booked they ended up saying they couldn’t guarantee a AWD/4WD unless I booked it through their Washington or Denver office, I was picking them up in LA, we were booking 2 cars due to 6 of us travelling.

    Arrive at LAX and go to SIXT, unfortunately they don’t have any 4WD or AWD in that class but if we upgrade 2 classes they have 2 x 4wd for us for the measly price of an extra $2,000 per car. So our $1,100 per car is now $3,100, we say OK as we don’t have much choice, after I’ve packed the first car, they mention that if we are driving in Colorado there is an extra .51 cents per Mile per car, so our trip was 3,200 miles so for only an extra $2,300 per car, so now we are at $10,400 just for the hire cars, we ended up cancelling the cars and made our way back to LAX, after 2 hours on the phone we ended up at Advantage rent a car

    2 Subaru’s later and the quote comes to 10 grand again, I say to the others we might as well just fly to SLC and worry about the cars there, the agent then decides to talk with the boss, he reduces both cars to $3,100 per car and we are on our way.

    Trip was for 24 days, out of the $3,100, $962 was for the rental and the rest was insurance and all the associated fees. M&S tyres went without a problem along the I70.

    Last year I booked an AWD without a problem for $1K

    lesson learnt
     
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  21. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Good to hear. Some are far more dodgy than others.

    We’ve never had any issues with our rentals in Canada
     
  22. Townsend

    Townsend One of Us

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    We have been using rentalcars.com and haven’t had the extra charges that Barras has had.
     
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  23. Gregah

    Gregah Addicted

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    Man, what a story. My wife would have to do the negotiating. I'd go postal...
    Can I ask, who did you use when you secured the AWD for $1K?
     
  24. Barras

    Barras Hard Yards

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    That was though Europcar, but at LAX they are the same place as Advantage who we went through this year, last year we could book a AWD though Economy Car Rental, but this year that option has been removed from every website i've looked at.
     
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  25. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    And We’ve used

    Economycarrentals.com
    Airportrentals.com
     
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