4x4 car rental Iceland: F-roads and gravel roads
4x4 car rental in Iceland is important if you want to drive on the tough F-roads to be able to see the many beautyful landmarks the country is so well known for. When planning your trip to Iceland you will soon see the term F-road which is important to understand.
The road system in Iceland consist of about 13000 km. of roads but less than 5000 km. are covered with asphalt with about 8000 km. being gravel roads. Most gravel roads as well as asphalt roads are suitable for normal cars but gravel and F-roads though need extra care while driving.
But some of the gravel roads are marked with F and an example would be F210. These are mainly mountain roads which are not maintained as regularly as other roads. Some of them lead up to the highland and are only open part of the year when snow has melted. Driving F-roads needs extra caution and the correct 4x4 rental car.
F-roads are ONLY suitable for 4x4 rental cars and even some of the F-roads, like F88 and F894 (Öskjuleið), F249 (Þórsmörk) and F578 are only suitable for larger 4x4 hire cars (not economy or intermediate 4x4).
To make things even more complicated some F-roads are not marked with the letter F even though qualifying as such. These are Kaldidalur valley (road 550), Kjalvegur (road 35) and Jökulhálsleið (road 570) and are therefore only suitable for 4x4 rental cars even though not marked with F.
The reason for F-roads being only suitable for 4x4 vehicles is because of lack of maintainance which can result in large holes or big rocks on the road which can cause serious damages to smaller cars. Some of the F-roads also lead to large un-bridged rivers which are only suitable for large 4x4.
It is important not to drive on F-roads with normal cars as the insurance is not applicable to such use. 4x4 vehicles are insured to be used on F-roads but please note though that insurance is not applicable when crossing a river. A special caution should be taken when crossing rivers and the responsibility is always the drivers.
Driving off-road is prohibited by law in Iceland so please keep your 4x4 hire car on marked roads only. Iceland nature is very delicate and the climate makes it extremely difficult to repair damages to the nature after off-road driving.