Top ten car hire tips

A rental car offers excellent value for money and the freedom to see your destination and everything it has to offer. To help renters get the most from their car rental experience, Budget Rent-a-Car has put together a list of top ten tips for you.

When you arrive at the renting location your rental vehicle should be available to you and are prepared and checked. However, we recommend that before signing your contract and for added peace of mind that you carry out the following checks:

1. Consider your vehicle requirements

The smallest available car may not suit your purposes. Consider the number of people and luggage to be carried. Comfort and safety are important considerations. You may also be grateful for having chosen an air-conditioned car in a hot country.

2. Check what the rate includes

Make sure you know exactly what the rate includes. Some prices quoted by our competitors may be unbelievably cheap but there may be hidden extras.

3. Take out proper cover

In Europe, car rental companies normally offer Third Party Liability (TPL) cover and Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). Theft Protection (TP) may be an optional extra. It is worth making sure you are covered or you will be liable for the full value of the vehicle if it is stolen. Theft Protection is mandatory in Italy.

In most countries, a daily Excess Reduction (EXR) cover can be taken out to reduce the CDW and TP excess. In the USA, you are strongly advised to top up the state minimum third party cover to $1m with Supplementary Liability Insurance (SLI). Some state minimum levels are as low as only $10,000.

4. Pre-book in the UK

If you are going abroad, a pre-booked programme at a guaranteed rate is likely to be cheaper and will help with budgeting. You will also be guaranteed vehicle availability.

5. Rent from an internationally recognised brand

It is advisable to rent from a reputable international car rental company, especially when abroad. They are more likely to offer the latest model cars, operate a wider network of locations, prepare vehicles to a higher standard and offer emergency roadside assistance. Also, if you do have a complaint, they are more likely to have a UK based office or point of contact.

6. Check for bodywork damage

Before you drive off, make sure that any damage, even a small dent or scratch, is noted on the pre-rental inspection form. Otherwise you may be charged for damage which was not your fault. At the same time, make sure you check the fuel gauge to ensure the vehicle has the same amount of fuel in as it states on the paperwork.

7. Check the tyres

It is very important to check that tyres are in good condition, have sufficient tread depth and appear properly inflated. Some customers breach the standard terms and conditions and drive their rental vehicles off-road. This can result in a cut or bulge in the side wall.

It is also worth checking the windscreen washers and wipers to ensure that they are not worn and that the washers have water in them.

8. Familiarise yourself with the controls

Make sure you are familiar with all controls and that the lights, wipers and horn work properly. Ask a member of staff to demonstrate any controls if you are unsure and request a copy of the handbook. Before you drive off, check fluid and oil levels and carry out a static brake check.

9. Ensure peace of mind with roadside assistance service

Check you have the necessary cover and a contact telephone number in case of accident or emergency. It is wise to also check that the glove compartment contains all relevant breakdown assistance information.

10. Check fuel type and return with a full tank

Finally, make sure you know what type of fuel the vehicle takes, as should the wrong type be used, you will be liable for the costs of cleaning the engine plus loss of revenue.

Return the car with a full tank of fuel, or topped up to the same level as supplied, to avoid paying a refuelling service charge or a premium price per litre.


Advice when travelling outside the UK?

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have launched the Know Before You Go campaign, aimed at helping British travellers stay safe and informed when travelling abroad. Visit their website for more essential tips and advice.