Rental Car Equipment and You
When picking up your rental car, it’s not a bad idea to consider “upgrading” your rental by opting to accept some of the special, optional equipment that agencies now offer. Whether you’re on the road with your vulnerable little ones or you just can’t find your way out of a room with only one door, including special equipment can make your life just a little bit easier when you’re not in your own car.
Child Safety Seats
Child safety seats, which are offered in three sizes, range in price from $8 to $15 per day to rent. Some car rental companies have weekly or maximum rates per rental for child safety seats, but not all do. When considering a child safety seat addition, calculate the total cost of the safety seat instead of just the per-day price.
There are three main types of child safety seats.
• Rear-facing infant carrier or child/infant seat: up to 20 lbs (9 kg) and 1 year of age
• Front-facing infant/toddler seat: 20-40 lbs (9-18 kg) and 1 year of age and up
• Booster seat: 40-80 lbs (18-36 kg) and up to 8 years of age
Rental companies cannot install such seats for you due to liability reasons, but they can provide you with instructions for installation.
The most commonly offered child safety seats are made by Graco and Evenflo.
Note that child safety seat laws vary by state, province, and territory. Keep in mind that you are required to obey the laws of the state, province, or territory you rent the car in, not the one you live in (if different from the rental location).
Equipment for Persons with Disabilities
Many independent car rental companies have made a commitment to improve their rental options for disabled drivers through the inclusion of special accessible equipment. Because each company’s offerings are different, you should either contact a company representative or visit their web site prior to booking a vehicle. With that being said, disabled renter policies are pretty standard throughout the industry.
Car rental companies do rent vehicles to persons with disabilities who do not have a driver’s license, as long as they meet certain standards. The renter must be otherwise personally and financially responsible. The rental must be completed using the disabled person’s credit card, and their designated driver must be 25 and licensed. The driver will also be required to complete an additional form at the time of rental. There is no fee for the designated driver.
Vehicles equipped with hand controls are available at most U.S. and Canadian rental services. Car rentals for disabled people must be requested, in advance, through the rental agency to ensure availability when the vehicle is picked up. Some examples of other special equipment are listed below.
• Transfer boards
• Panoramic mirrors
• Swivel seats
• Hand controls
• Spinner knobs
For more information on car rental accessories for persons with disabilities check out this recent article.
Global positioning system (GPS) units are offered almost everywhere you can rent a car. The most common models are made by Garmin, TomTom, and Neverlost. Rental rates range from $12 to $17 per day.
Although GPS rentals can be expensive depending on the length of your rental car period, they are totally worth the expense if you’re going to be driving in a strange place. Accurately guided by satellite triangulation, GPS units almost always provide accurate, turn-by-turn voice and text directions—perfect for those of you who don’t know your left from your right. Need some help selecting the GPS unit that's right for you? Review CRX's Top Five Portal GPS Units.
Most rental car companies now offer some sort of toll pass package to go along with your rental car. Opting to take one of these toll pass options will allow you to pass through electronic toll collection lanes (such as the E-Z Pass system).
Some rental companies will allow you to decline to purchase such an option, and you may want to decline a toll package—the state/provincial toll authority charges you the toll up-front, and the rental car company charges an administrative fee (typically $2.50/day, usually capped at $10/week). Note that some localities require you to purchase a toll option, and you are not given the option to decline.
Most rental car locations in close proximity to ski destinations offer ski rack rentals. Such rentals are limited to vehicles of a certain size range, and prices and availability range from city to city and company to company.
Special equipment can really enhance your independent car rental. Simply contact your chosen rental agency for more information on product availability and cost.