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Is it viable to temporarily swap on snow tires with a rental car?

Is it viable to temporarily swap on snow tires with a rental car?

Old Jun 20, 19, 4:25 am
  #1  
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Question Is it viable to temporarily swap on snow tires with a rental car?

Let's say I'm doing a multi-month rental of a car and am planning to use the car in an area with hazardous winter road conditions. As such, I'd like to equip the car with snow tires. It's rare to find a car rental location that carries cars with snow tires, so I'd need to take care of this myself. My plan would be to swap on the snow tires shortly after getting the car, and then, a few months later just before returning the car, swap back on the original tires. (I wouldn't be doing this myself, but rather taking the car to a tire shop.)

In theory, the car rental company should be all for this. The original tires on their car would get next to no mileage, as they wouldn't be getting any use, and the car would be much less likely to get into an accident as it would be more secure on the road with snow tiers.

However, we all know how car rental companies work - that is, in a very "by the book" and often irrational fashion. Wanting to avoid a back and forth with the company, I decide to just go ahead and do this without getting approval from the rental company one way or another, with the plan to return the car at the end of the rental period with the original tires swapped back on, nobody the wiser.

Do folks think that pulling this off is viable? Is there any considerations or risk or obstacles I'm overlooking here? Also, I'd like to run this scenario by some auto experts, as well. Can anyone recommend a forum that is to cars what FlyerTalk is to travel?
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Old Jun 20, 19, 5:33 am
  #2  
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In theory that should be fine, but there are definitely risks:
  • If something wonky happens at the tire place and the car gets damaged there, there could very well be a mess
  • If you get into an accident with the car and it has tires on it that weren't installed with approval from the rental agency, it could very well void any extra insurance you purchase from the rental agency (if applicable)

Why not just ask the rental company what to do? If you're picking up the car anywhere near where it snows, this won't be an abnormal question for them.
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Old Jun 20, 19, 11:43 am
  #3  
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Originally Posted by lo2e View Post
In theory that should be fine, but there are definitely risks:
  • If something wonky happens at the tire place and the car gets damaged there, there could very well be a mess
  • If you get into an accident with the car and it has tires on it that weren't installed with approval from the rental agency, it could very well void any extra insurance you purchase from the rental agency (if applicable)

Why not just ask the rental company what to do? If you're picking up the car anywhere near where it snows, this won't be an abnormal question for them.
Good points. Responses...

I'd use a reputable tire shop to minimize the risk of the car getting damaged, though this is still a risk, you're right.
Long story, but for this situation, I'd be purchasing insurance from outside the rental agency, so hopefully this would be less likely to be an issue should an accident happen.
You're right, there's nothing to lose by asking the rental company to do this, but I'm anticipating there's a good chance they'd be a pain about it and preparing accordingly.
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Old Jun 20, 19, 8:33 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by lo2e View Post
  • If you get into an accident with the car and it has tires on it that weren't installed with approval from the rental agency, it could very well void any extra insurance you purchase from the rental agency (if applicable)
This is what I'd be most worried about. Even if you're using 3rd party insurance, it's likely that they require you to follow the T&C of the contract for coverage to be applicable. Can you see the T&C prior to renting to see if there's any problem with modifying the car from it's rented state?
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Old Jun 20, 19, 8:53 pm
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Originally Posted by IAHtraveler View Post
This is what I'd be most worried about. Even if you're using 3rd party insurance, it's likely that they require you to follow the T&C of the contract for coverage to be applicable. Can you see the T&C prior to renting to see if there's any problem with modifying the car from it's rented state?
Good thinking. I don't have the contract at this point, but reviewing it in advance would seem to be wise, based on what you're saying.
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Old Jun 23, 19, 9:35 pm
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Tire Rack offers steel wheels for some sizes. If you buy wheels and tires, they will mount and balance the tires on the wheels without charge. That might save the $100 cost of mounting and balancing twice. That $100 may be slightly less in some cities.

There is a demand for lightly used snow tires and wheels.

Some Canadian provinces require snow tires but they might not allow the car to remain in the US for several months and the rental costs are also higher.

While some caution you not to put snow tires on, I find that snow tires add a lot of safety. Furthermore, if the car is totaled, the car rental company might not notice that the tires are not the original.
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