Rental Safety: Tips for Driving an Unfamiliar Vehicle
Car rentals are a great way to get around when you’re vacationing or working in a different city, or when your personal vehicle is in the shop for repairs. With that being said, sliding behind the wheel of an unfamiliar vehicle can be a dangerous undertaking. Stay safe during your car rental travels with these tips from Car Rental Express.
1) Book Early
One of the benefits of booking your car rental early is selection. Leave your reservation to the last minute and you could find yourself faced with a manual transmission vehicle, when all you’ve ever driven is an automatic. Reserve your vehicle early using the CRX car rental comparison tool to avoid this booking blunder.
2) Review Safety Features
Before you hop in your car rental and speed off into the sunset, it’s critical that you take the time to familiarize yourself with the vehicle’s layout and features. You never know when you might need to activate a safety feature quickly and efficiently during an emergency situation. When you first enter your car rental, make sure you know:
• Where the windshield wiper controls are located.
• How to operate the internal defrost.
• Where the switch for the hazard lights is located.
• How to trigger your high beams and fog lights.
• Where the gas hatch release mechanism is (and which side of the vehicle your gas hatch is on).
It’s also recommended that you take some additional time to review major operating instructions in the vehicle manual. If you can’t immediately locate the manual in your rental, ask the rental desk attendant for assistance.
3) Test Out Your Brakes
Every vehicle has a slightly different braking response time. Chances are you’re accustom to the braking in your personal vehicle because you drive it every day. When forced to drive an unfamiliar car rental, remember to take some time to get used to the feel of your vehicle’s braking capabilities. Remember to:
• Leave more space between your car rental and the vehicle in front of you. This will provide you with additional cushion space in case you ever need to brake quickly.
• Brake early for stop signs and traffic lights. This will help ensure that your vehicle has more than enough time to respond.
• If you notice something funny with your car rental’s breaks, contact the car rental company directly and request a replacement vehicle.
4) Steer Clear of Steering and Acceleration Issues.
When in a car that you’ve never driven before, it’s a good idea to take it for a test drive in order to familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s responsiveness. During your test, remember to:
• Test the acceleration and deceleration rates on an open stretch (a secluded parking lot is probably the safest place).
• Test the turning response time. Remember, this is a car rental so chances are good that the suspension might be a little off and the alignment could be slightly out of balance.
5) Know the Local Laws
This is particularly important when you’re driving an unfamiliar vehicle in an unfamiliar place. Always stick to posted speed limits – if you’re traveling on a long stretch of highway that passes through towns, always slow down when you approach pockets of residential development, even if the speed limit remains consistent. Remember to keep a safe driving distance between you and the car in front, and always signal before making a lane change or turn. Avoid unnecessary distractions, and always, always, wear your seatbelt.
How do you familiarize yourself with a new car rental? Share your tips and tricks by leaving a comment below.