Renting a Car/Chains for a Snow Trip

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Snow chains on a rental car?

Jan 2011

We will be renting a minivan for a trip to South Lake Tahoe in a couple of weeks. We need to transport 6 people, and renting a full-size SUV with 4WD is way more expensive. I'd like to know if it's possible to rent chains somewhere on the drive up (via I-80 and US-50), or if I'd be better off just buying them here in Berkeley before we leave, or if there's another solution that I haven't thought of. snow driver

I think you should check with your rental agency about putting chains on one of their vehicles. Chains can, sometimes, cause damage to a car and you might find it cheaper, in the long run, to pay for the 4-wheel drive rental instead. Sara

I looked into snow chains for a rental car last winter. Each rental company I spoke to said they forbid using snow chains on their cars. I also looked into renting chains for our Acura. This seemed to me impossible because each car requires different chains, so finding out what our car requires and then finding them for rent did not work. Eventually I gave in and bought some from the dealer. Ronna

Want to rent 4-wheel-drive for snow trip

Jan 2009

My son and I will be taking a trip to the snow in Feb and want to rent a 4-wheel-drive car for the trip. (a) Where to rent? (b) What kind of car to rent? Tired of snow chains

Best bet is a Subaru--they are all-wheel drive. Great cars for bad weather. However, I can't guarantee that you won't need chains in the snow if you are driving over the mountains--chains provide grip. I think best place to rent them is Enterprise, but where-ever you decide to rent, call ahead and insist that you will ONLY rent a Subaru, so the model you want is available. Don't know how much room you need, but probably a Forester or Outback is what you want. Lola

Possible to rent snow chains?

Feb 2006

We are going to Hope Valley at the end of February. We've been told that we'll need chains on the front tires of our 1999 VW beetle. One tire place in Berkeley quoted us $51 for a pair of chains. It's not much, but we would rather just rent them if we can. Our question: can we rent chains somewhere along the route - or in Berkeley? THANKS!

I am pretty sure that whatever money you save renting (if it is possible) would be lost in the time an effort involved. You might want to think about buying used chains at the Wilderness Exchange on San Pablo in Berkeley, or just buying chains at a cheaper location and if you do not end up needing them, which you very likely will not, make sure that they can be returned. Good Luck!

Over the past 20+ yrs or so, I've made it a habit of buying new snow chains for whatever car we have had. Long before (and I can't quite remember the details) I was told that it's a bad idea to think about using used snow chains or even using old ones that have had a chance to rust out. I remember going up to Tahoe one ski trip and having to break out the old cable snow chains that hadn't seen daylight for maybe 2-3 yrs or so. Installing them in the slush is never fun, but what made me stop and think was when I got back into the car, I was covered with grimy rust stains.. gloves, hands, sleeves, pants.. it was everywhere. Then I remembered the old snow chain advice and realized that (A) I should've rinsed them off after I'd used them last time because of the salted roads (duh), (B) I should've made sure they were dry before I stored them (duh, again), and (C) I should've checked them out before my trip (well.. I was young). I switched to using link chains after that, figuring that there's more metal that'd have to rust through before they failed (vs cable chains). More importantly though, I made the decision not to take unnecessary risks. So when it comes to safety equipment, I just bite the bullet and pay now. On one hand, it seems a bit wasteful to me (after all, how many times are you going to make use of those snow chains?). But for my own peace of mind, I'd feel much worse if the difference between some unfortunate event happening or not came down to my decision to save a few bucks on safety equipment. - Live with no regrets