If you are visiting Alaska for business or pleasure, you may be renting a vehicle. Driving in winter weather can be very tricky, especially if you are not accustomed to driving in snow and ice.
Before you rent a vehicle, make sure it is ready for winter driving by asking these six important questions.
1. Does the vehicle have winter tires or all-weather tires?
Driving in Alaska can be challenging, especially for tourists who are unfamiliar with driving in snow and ice. Many rental car companies do not allow snow chains or cables to be used on rental vehicles due to the potential for damages to the vehicle. Therefore, you want to make sure that the vehicle is equipped with winter tires or all-weather tires in addition to understanding the company’s policy regarding snow chains and cables.
2. Is the vehicle equipped with an engine block heater?
If you’re traveling to Alaska in below zero weather or plan to visit Fairbanks in the winter for the hot springs, you should be sure to ask if the vehicle is equipped with an engine block heater. Alaskans use engine block heaters to keep engines warm during cold winters and are a good start to any outdoor excursion. It’s also in your best interest to ensure you’re properly educated on how to use an engine block heater, so be sure to ask the rental car company if you have any questions.
3. What is your roadside assistance policy?
Before you rent a vehicle, especially during the winter in Anchorage, AK, ask the rental company about its roadside assistance policy. Many car companies have a roadside assistance number you can call in the event you have an accident or a breakdown. Furthermore, make sure you understand what to do in the event of a traffic accident. The rental car company may have specific instructions for reporting the traffic accident involving a rental vehicle.
4. Has the vehicle been winterized?
Winter driving conditions in Anchorage can be very different from what you may be used to where you live. If you are renting a car during the winter, make sure the vehicle has been winterized. Some of the items you may want to specifically inquire about when renting a car in winter includes:
- Winter windshield wipers
- Special windshield wiper fluid
- Winter tires
- Side and rear defrosters
- Winter or cold-weather battery
- Oil and antifreeze for cold weather
5. Is there an emergency kit in the vehicle?
If you become stranded in cold weather, it is crucial that you have an emergency kit in your vehicle. Ask the rental car company what is included in the emergency kit, if there is one in the vehicle. A good emergency kit should include:
- Jumper cables and a portable jump starter
- Ice scraper, snow brush, and small snow shovel
- Bag of sand, salt, or other abrasive material in case your tire is stuck and you cannot reach anyone for assistance
- A blanket (carry gloves, hat, and warm clothes with you as well)
- Flashlight, batteries, and flares
- First-aid kit
In addition to ensuring you have the items you need in case of a break down, carry water and food (i.e. protein bars, etc.) with you when you are traveling in case you are stranded.
6. Have all recall repairs been completed?
Rental car companies must now make all recall repairs before renting a vehicle; however, it is a good question to ask, regardless of the time of year you rent a vehicle. Safety equipment is very important, especially during inclement weather. You want to make sure that any items that have been recalled have been repaired.
Contact An Anchorage, AK Car Accident Attorney
When renting a vehicle in Alaska, it’s also important to keep in mind that you should remember to lock your doors, remove all valuables, and do not leave your rental car running. If you happen to be injured in a car accident, our Anchorage car accident attorneys can help. Being injured in a car accident is a traumatic event; however, it can be more complicated if you are in a rental vehicle at the time of the collision. Our personal injury attorneys can help you sort through the various issues involved with a rental car collision to ensure your right to recover compensation for damages is protected.
Call Kelley & Canterbury, LLC at (907) 276-8185 or toll free at 1 (888) 454-8185 to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Alaska car accident attorney.