Top 20 Car Hire Tips when looking for car rental - Thu 31st May 2012

Top 20 Car Hire Tips when looking for car rental

 These top 20 tips will ensure you avoid the pitfalls and hassle when you next hire a car.
1. Clarify the rule on fuel charges before you book. Some firms will ask you to return the car with the tank full, while some will advise to leave the fuel at the guage level when first collected, or leave it empty. Consider though in the latter case that each car manufacturer's guide advice of the amount of fuel each model holds: have you ever attempted to run any car dry and actually tried to fill it to the manufacturer’s level? Well it’s impossible due to the fact that there are 5-10 litres of fuel residue in the tank, even when it shows empty, so when you leave the car empty you have already been charged for the fuel at the manufactures' stated guide level: thus being a benefit for the car hire firm. Whatever the rule, check the fuel gauge before exiting the car hire compound.
2. Ensure the comprehensive insurance cover includes theft cover also, as fully comprehensive means different things in different countries.
3. Having pre-paid for the car hire car you may find on arrival at the airport office a request for insurance indemnity to cover the undercarriage of the car at some 3-5 Pounds per day. It may even sound like a demand, so do consider before paying up, or take out an insurance cover for this, since all car fire firms exclude the undercarriage.
Excess Waiver fee is useful to avoid the potential charge in the event of any minor scrape. TO AVOID CAR-HIRE EXCESS - Although your rental includes 'Fully Comprehensive Insurance', the excess you’ll pay if the car is damaged or stolen will be anything from £200 to £1,000, and you have to pay a fortune to reduce it. To avoid this you can buy a Europe-wide annual policy. It costs around £49 a year and indemnifies you against all excess charges. Plus, it covers damage to tyres, windows and undercarriage – areas not covered by the rental companies’ policies - Info
5. Check the charges before booking for extras like; child seats, sat nav, DVD players, snow chains and roof rack costs.
6. Additional driver charge (ought to be free) but do check. Do include the second driver as you never know when it may be needed.
7. If you intend driving around a lot consider diesel fuel, as it is much cheaper in many European countries than petrol.
8. When you get the keys to the car do double check the listed scrapes and dents, to ensure no charges apply upon your return.
9. Do check that a spare wheel, jack, warning triangle (2 required in some countries such as Spain) and that fluorescent jackets are present.
10. Ensure you take your driving license with you (include plastic and paper one).
11. Check the contact details in the event of a breakdown.
12. Ensure you have the rental papers with you at all times, in the event you are stopped by the police.
13. For security it is better to remove any obvious signs (stickers) that the car is in fact a hire car, since many thefts occur when people are identified as short stay visitors.
14. Do check on exiting the airport that your car is not being followed, as opportunist thieves are known to spike your tyre and pretend to be friendly when flagging you down, but then to rob you.
15. Clarify too when booking that there is a reception desk either in the arrivals hall or within the car park compound. Do not be dependent on awaiting the arrival of someone holding up your name who may or may not be present upon your arrival, thus forcing you to have to chase up with a phone call.
16. Read the terms and conditions of the rental agreement online before booking.
17. Ensure you return the vehicle by the contracted time, otherwise should it be over then you could pay for an extra day’s rental, based on their 24 hour policy rental.
18. Make sure you get a signature to sign off the car upon its return to the car hire office, so that nobody can claim damage from you later, or charge your credit card wrongly.
19. Probably you will find the best prices are with brokers and not the main dealers such as Hertz and Avis etc who tend to aim rentals at the business market end, whereas the brokers are more competitive in the holiday sector. It is worth considering the local firms to the areas you travel to as well, since they have offices in your area in the event of any issue arising and can accommodate quickly. Using a broker gives you access to over 550 car hire firms and their 15,000 offices with just one click, so well worth getting a quote.
20. Acquaint yourself with the meaning of road signs. In Spain a stop sign means stop, so even if the way is clear and you roll forward it will result in a fine if seen. Should you inadvertently cross a continuous central white line or just clip it, then that would result in a fine too. Helpful tips about driving in Spain can be found on the Blog, as well as a fully costed driving route through France to Spain - Info.
Happy driving

Posted by Bruce Gibson

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