Things to Do Before Leaving the Rental Car Lot
We’ve all done it in the past – rushed to pick up our car rental and then sped off into the sunset. But did you know this hasty behavior could be putting you in danger? Before you drive off the rental lot, it’s critical that you take a few important precautions. Whether you’re traveling for business or for pleasure, remember to review the following before hitting the road.
1) Look for Possible Damage
Before you sign your car rental agreement, take a good 10 or 15 minutes to review your vehicle for damages. Take a detailed report of any scratches, dings, dents or discolorations, both inside and outside the vehicle. While unseen damages on the car are probably the least expensive of your worries, they can result in unnecessary charges. Once you’ve completed the walk through, provide the rental company with a copy of your assessment. It’s important that you make sure everyone is on the same page before you begin your vacation.
2) Read Over the Contract
Think if you’ve seen one car rental agreement, you’ve seen them all? Think again! Every company has their own way of drawing up a contract, so never, ever assume that you’re requests have been met. Always check your insurance and optional items. This can sometimes be a bit tedious when it comes to online contracts, but believe us, it’s time well spent. Car rental agents will do whatever it takes to upsell a rental; some will even add additional insurance coverage onto your bill without informing you first. As anxious as you are to hit the beach and begin your vacation, remember to be cautious. Read all of the small print and don’t be embarrassed if you have a question.
3) Take Down Emergency Numbers
What would you do if your car broke down in the middle of the night on an abandoned road? Nine times out of ten, you’d call a tow truck company, a family member, or roadside assistance. But what about when you’re half way across the country in a car rental? Before you drive off the rental lot, ask an agent about their emergency assistance policy. Many independent car rental companies do provide roadside assistance, but at a premium price. At the very least, ask the rental agent to provide you with emergency contact information for the company, as well as the name and number of a reliable towing company. It could be one of the most important questions you ever ask!
4) Check the Fuel Level
Car rental companies are sticklers when it comes to returning your vehicle with a full tank of gas. And you should be too. Before you drive off the lot, check to make sure the fuel gauge is pointed squarely at the “F.” Why buy the rental company free gas if you can avoid it? If your rental isn’t full, talk to the agent on duty. Either request a different rental or insist that a note be made on your contract that waives a refueling charge.
5) Make Sure You Can Drive the Car
This is a biggie, especially if you’re traveling overseas. Sometimes, either through an upgrade, or just the randomness of new cars, you can end up with a vehicle that’s very different from what you’re used to driving. For example, an electric car operates far differently than a petrol-powered vehicle. If you’re unsure of how to operate the car, ask the rental attendant to provide you with a quick course, or insist on a different vehicle. Check to make sure that the driver’s manual is included in the glove box. Newer cars have all sorts of high-tech features that can make even the simplest tasks seemingly impossible.
Don’t just assume that your car rental is ready to hit the road when you pick it up. Take the above precautions in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable vacation.