Flights are certainly optimal for long-distance travel, but renting a car offers you freedom and flexibility when travelling. With a rental car, you don’t have to rely on taxis, public transport or ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft – and who doesn’t love the convenience of door-to-door transportation? Renting a car is quite easy if you have a valid driver’s license and meet the age requirements, but some drivers make a critical mistake in the process. Read on to find out what experts say you should do before driving your rental car off the premises.
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Renting a car became a bit more challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when a shortage of semiconductor chips delayed car productionaccording to The Washington Post. Rental companies were left with fewer cars but greater demand for travel. The situation became so dire that it was dubbed the “rental car apocalypse.”
As happens with supply and demand, prices shot up and were still exalted during the 2022 summer travel season, per Bloomberg. If you’re lucky enough to find a rental car at a price that won’t break the bank, you should take a few extra minutes to get to your final destination.
Renting a car is already pricey and you don’t want to be saddled with extra costs. Therefore, you should check your vehicle for any defects before leaving the rental company premises.
“We recommend that you inspect the vehicle thoroughly before driving it, as any undetected or unnoticed damage, or even a minor scratch, could be left undocumented by the previous customer,” Matas Buzelishead of communication and car expert at carVertical, explains. “If the company has not documented the damage” [from the previous renter]they may approach you with a report of new damage or scratches, for which you will inevitably have to pay.”
Mike Clancyhead of the non-profit organization Car Donation Centeradds that without documentation, it will also be difficult to defend yourself if you are fined.
“When asked [by the rental company], how can you prove that the scratches or dents were not your fault? The result is a [long-winded] quarrel, which often ends with paying the damage, “he tells” Best life. “It’s always good practice to capture any visual damage before driving into the sunset.”
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Getting a magnifying glass on the body of your rental car is a great way to protect yourself, but you also need to make sure everything else in the vehicle is in order.
Margarette Stine, car expert for 4WheelOnline recommends checking the tires and rims, looking under the car for any leaks and documenting any stains or damage to the interior. Clancy emphasizes the importance of a “performance check” just to make sure the radio, air conditioning, lights, seats, mirrors and fuel gauge are working, as well as any navigation system or technology fitted to the vehicle.
Finally, check the vehicle’s fluids. “Before driving, check that all the vehicle’s fluids are at the correct level”, Joe Girandadirector of sales and marketing for CFR Classic, an international car shipping and moving company, tells best life. “This includes engine oil, coolant/antifreeze, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid.”
No matter how many precautions you take, accidents and damage do happen. As such, you want to have good coverage. If you have auto insurance, your provider can cover you even if you have a rental car, but take a moment to double-check your policy.
“You’ll also want to make sure you have rental car insurance, whether that means being covered by your personal car insurance policy, buying coverage from the rental company itself, or being covered by your credit card,” Kathleen Ahmed, co-founder of USCarJunkerexplains.
Finally – to make sure no box is checked – read the rental contract carefully and make a pit stop at the gas station before returning the car. “You should always return the vehicle with a full tank of petrol. Otherwise you may have to pay for refueling, as most car rental companies often charge considerably more than the normal gas station rates,” explains Ahmmed.