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Geneva Car Rental

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
If renting a car from Genava Airport (Swiss side if that's relevant), to drive to Val Thorens, would the vehicle automatically be equipped with winter tyres and have snow chains?

Thanks in advance
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
It depends when you are renting it. In April it may not have.
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Yes to winter tyres, chains most likely in boot also.
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Assuming that you're booking during winter months (at least till the end of March) yes to winter tyres (legal requirement in Switzerland), but not necessarily chains.
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johnE wrote:
It depends when you are renting it. In April it may not have.


December.

Thanks both.
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Mine at Xmas (with Alamo) whislt having winter tyres, didnt come with chains, rented them for another CHF40 for a week.
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suffolkski,

In December - yes to winter tyres. No to chains, unless you pay extra.

You could always buy chains at a supermarket on the way to Val T, then take them back for a refund, if unused, on the way home. That would probably be cheaper than rental, even if you use them. A lot cheaper if you don't, however wink
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@suffolkski, two things - I have hired from the major suppliers on the Swiss side of GVA for 20 years, several trips per year, and always had chains available in the boot of the car, even when I have declined hire of them at the desk. And then the second thing - we drive to the Alps and around the mountains at least five times a year - good winter tyres - and on no occasion (either with our own car or hire car) had to use chains. And that’s in huge dumps and narrow steep roads at altitude.
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Alamo / National / Enterprise at GVA do not leave chains in the boot. If you want them you have to pay for them, but they’re not expensive.
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valais2 wrote:
@suffolkski, ....I have declined hire of them at the desk. And then the second thing - we drive to the Alps and around the mountains at least five times a year - good winter tyres - and on no occasion (either with our own car or hire car) had to use chains. And that’s in huge dumps and narrow steep roads at altitude.


Now you tell me. wink
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Does anyone know whether you get a Swiss motorway vignette from the French side and do you need it to get out of the airport and on to VThorens?? Thanks
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I rented a car in December. It was from the Swiss side and when I got to the desk, they cheerily announced that they were upgrading me to a bigger car ( only 2 of us so not needed ) and that it was an automatic. It was snowing at the time so a manual was going to be better so I said no thanks, can I just have what I ordered. They produced reams of paperwork, and with growing crowd behind us, we signed.
I duly got a manual and then when the bill arrives, it was loaded up by the increased cost of the upgrade and upon complaining, they said that the increased cost was in the paperwork which I had signed.
Please beware.
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@Nickbrad, who was that with?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
First, the chains thing:

I've been going to the Alps for 20 years and have only needed chains three times. But when I've needed them, I've needed them. You do the probability calculation. When I've needed them, it actually hasn't been on the airport-resort transfer, its been when I've had to drive out to pick someone up, either a late arrival or someone stranded at the far end of the ski area at the end of the day.

When I hire from the Swiss side, I've always got chains included in the basic rental. Beware a 'good deal' (esp. through an intermediary) only to find that the chains are a supplementary charge when you get to the rental company desk.

Second, the vignette thing:

You will get it from a Swiss-side rental. You may get it from a French-side rental, you can't be sure. Again, a 'good deal' (esp. through an intermediary) may leave you with having to buy one if you want to use Swiss autoroutes. Some intermediaries quote a non-vignette charge but book you with a rental company that has no non-vignette vehicles. In which case they are bound to charge you - you can demand a non-vignette car 'till you're blue in the face, but they simply don't have any.

You can manage without one. People's view on the inconvenience differs widely. You have to do the convenience/cost equation for yourself: go to www.viamichelin.com and compare the autoroute vs 'avoid vignette' option and decide if the saving is worth it.
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@Nickbrad, that’s interesting....last Easter I turned up at Europcar, and the nice person on the desk was being barracked by an angry American who had failed to contact them to say she was eight hours late, nor had she included flight number on the application. She was vv angry and not happy with getting a slightly different vehicle. I stood back and only during a lull in shouting said ‘hello how are you, we have a reservation’ (in French) at which the Europcar person said ‘Oh no, my computer’s crashed....’. I said ‘no problem, we’ll go an have a coffee and come back when things have calmed down’. Which we did. And when we came back she said ‘I’ve given you a slightly better car...no charge...’. We had gone from an Astra to a top model Mercedes 4x4. Nice. Didn’t fit in the garage, but no sweat. Was automatic, but dealt with the deep snow at Vercorin and Chandolin without issue.


@ster, ,,,sorry,,,,should have said......
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Nickbrad, why would a manual be any better (having driven an automatic in the Alps for 14 years)?

I was wondering about e motors recently though with instant torque but presumably selectable....

I would be complaining vociferously to the company’s head office.

P.s. winter tyres are not a legal requirement in CH...
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@LaForet, Thanks! Does the thing about not being able to take Swiss registered cars into France still apply or did they fix that?
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Quote:

Does the thing about not being able to take Swiss registered cars into France still apply or did they fix that?

TBH I don't think that was ever actually applied. There are much more important things to worry about.
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@Bodeswell, indeed winter tyres not a legal requirement in CH but as you know, if you are in an accident which is not your fault but you are on summer tyres and in winter conditions, the likelihood is that you will being seen to be at fault. We have used winter tyres going there since the 90’s.

The Swiss-EU thing broadly is ignored by the hire companies in Geneva. It’s seen as a pain rather than a law to be respected.

I used to avoid autos in the snow but modern ones are fine, even on the HORRIBLE little slope into our garage.
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@valais2, Thanks, I always use winters where required, maybe you were responding to another query...
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under a new name,

When stuck in snow, I find manual cars offer more control. eg being able to rock back and forth on the clutch, for momentum; and pulling away in 2nd gear in a manual gives lower revs. I've been stuck 4 times in total (in relatively flat car parks) in automatics on my last 2 Colorado trips over the past 2 seasons. Neither car had a "low" gear option Sad
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@Bergmeister, ...agreed manual in deep sh=t has merits. And we have been up to our axles in that in CH at times. But most of the time, in most context, even in extremis, modern autos do OK, providing they have good winters on.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Bodeswell, oops sorry was responding to Underanewname’s postscript....
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@Bergmeister, the way my car works (CVT) If I had to I could rock it just by applying and releasing the accelerator. Likewise, a sensitive right foot only adds minimal torque. So, I’m not convinced there’s much structural advantage. Although all that said, it’s an AWD - but never had to apply that on the flat.

In Colorado I’d imagine you might be on summer tyres? I know in BC we’ve been on summers.
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@valais2, no worries at all Very Happy I’d rather have chains if ever needed than miss a flight because I didnt have them.

And I haven’t (yet - probably jinxed it now) been pinged for that flash from the speed camera and I’d rather miss that joy, so all swings and roundabouts of holiday costs when renting cars.
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Time for my usual tip to determine what the traction control setting for snow is on your own, or a hire car. Having the right snow traction setting turned on helped get me out of a tricky situation on a standing hill start in deep slush only last month (think RWD and 320BHP). Yes, determining this can be tricky in an unfamiliar hire car and a manual only in German and French, but better to be grappling with Google Translate en route than in the middle of the road in the resort. Generally, once you know, it's easy to set for snow, but my BMW manual takes at least 200 words to explain in English, let alone German. Or ask the people at the car hire pickup who often know or can translate for you. Frankly, I find it amazing that the car hire companies don't provide a note for each brand of car telling you how to set the traction control for snow, given the probability you'll need it.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@LaForet, as ever a good point. Our driveway has a slightly awkward exit and if it’s really slippy it’s ESP off and 4WD forced on (not a real 4WD, no diff locks).
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Quote:

Frankly, I find it amazing that the car hire companies don't provide a note for each brand of car telling you how to set the traction control for snow, given the probability you'll need it.

A pretty low probablilty. I've hired cars from Geneva and Lyon, driven to the alpes many times over the last 20 years and encountered snow 3 times on the road that required chains. I've never had winter tyres. Only recently have the cars come with traction control. My wife's Skoda has very simple instructions for snow - swtich the traction control off. That's it. What does the BMW manual spend the other 199.99 pages saying?

Incidently you can almost always get a car manual in English on the Internet. When we broke down a couple years ago on the way to Les Arcs the insurance company gave us a fiat 500L as as replacement. I was struggling with the cruise control so my neice in the back looked it up on the internet and instructed me.
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Currently got a hire car from Europcar. Rented from Geneva, Swiss side.

Winters tyres are a legal requirement during winter months.
Had chains in the back and didn’t have to ask or pay extra.

Staying at 1600m and had about 50cms of snow the other day. In general, most resorts clear the roads quickly and no one here had chains on. Winter tyres were doing the job.
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@Fridge03, see above re legal requirement - not strictly a legal requirement but will get into a lot of trouble if you have an accident and are on summers even if not your fault ...
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 Poster: A snowHead
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johnE wrote:
A pretty low probablilty. I've hired cars from Geneva and Lyon, driven to the alpes many times over the last 20 years and encountered snow 3 times on the road that required chains. I've never had winter tyres. .. What does the BMW manual spend the other 199.99 pages saying?


'low probability'? You're going on a skiing holiday. On snow. In the mountains, In winter. You're actually hoping it will snow. I'll leave it to readers to make their own judgement about the probability of encountering snow, rather than tell them they're unlikely to encounter it. And needing chains 3 times in 20 years is exactly the same as I said was my personal experience. That's once every 7 years. Again, I leave it up to the reader to make the risk/cost judgement. And I said words, not pages. But for clarity, here is just an extract:

''If the indicator light is illuminated DSC has failed. Deactivating DSC; DSC OFF .. DTC is a variant of the DSC ... it may be best to activate DTC for a short time when driving in slush or .. snow-covered roads or .. driving with snow chains ... press the ~OFF button. TRACTION is displayed in the instrument cluster and DSC OFF indicator light is illuminated ... there is maximum traction with DTC activated. Driving stability is limited on accelerating and cornering.'

Terrific that your wife's Skoda has such a simple directive for adjusting to snow, but I found that both BMW and Audi manuals were rather ambiguous and confusing about what to do to set the traction control appropriately for snow, and again when you're back on tarmac. Hence my advice to take a look at the Owners Manual and check at leisure before you actually need to act.


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Thu 5-03-20 15:14; edited 3 times in total
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I recall picking up hire cars from Swiss side and chains were in the boot. However the container had a cable tie so even though we hadn't asked for chains we were told to leave them there and if we use them then we get charged. Fortunately we've never needed them.
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I recall picking up hire cars from Swiss side and chains were in the boot. However the container had a cable tie so even though we hadn't asked for chains we were told to leave them there and if we use them then we get charged. Fortunately we've never needed them.
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@halfhand, indeed this is A Good System
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@valais2, So good I posted it twice Laughing Laughing
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You would struggle to get around in the Val d'Anniviers at the moment without snow tyres. It's been snowing for 18 hours and there is no sign of it stopping. There is a reason why the locals are required to have them fitted on their cars! On the plus side the skiing has been epic all week.
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Quote:

And needing chains 3 times in 20 years is exactly the same as I said was my personal experience. That's once every 7 years.

I suppose that applies if you only go once a year. I tend to go 2 or 3 times. so that is about 5% probability - The level we tend adopt when rejecting the null hypothesis. I'm not saying don't take snow chains all I am saying it is probably not worth the hire company explaining to you complex operation procedures with traction control. Their time would be better spent telling you how to put the chains on. Incidently the instructions in my Audi are as simple as in my wife's Skoda (well they are virtually the same car.)
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@johnE, ...instructions in the manual for fitting chains to my Yeti:

‘You can’t fit chains on your Yeti’.

Sh+t. And true.
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@JohnE ' the instructions in my Audi are as simple as in my wife's Skoda'

Well, that's good too. It doesn't invalidate my suggestion that it's worth just taking a look at your Owners Manual and checking what the snow traction settings are ahead of needing them. And ditto when you pick up a hire car.

And I still think it's reasonable, given that the hire companies have bothered to fit winter tyres and to supply chains, and the greater probability of encountering snow, that they have a sheet in the car that tells you what the right traction settings are. I know you disagree.
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@LaForet, ...and the reality of the ‘snow’ function. On the Renault Badger, Codger, Kadger, Kadjar whatever four wheel thing we hired last year, we put it into ‘Snow’ function on the little chrome twiddly thing and this proceeded to control wheel slip by jamming on the brakes, on each offending wheel. Up the road to Aminona in 4 inches of fresh, this resulted in horrific Burning Brake Smell after 2 minutes, so I went back onto ‘Perfectly Normal Drive’ and just drove it with proper technique in snow, and everything was fine. A stupid bit of automotive design which in reality does not work. An instance of ‘digital design over function...’
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