Avoiding Rental Car Mistakes

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Driving a rental car should always be a pleasant experience. You get to take a break from your usual set of wheels and cruise around in a new vehicle for a few days. If you’re lucky, you might even get to try out that new make and model you’ve been thinking about buying. And, hopefully, you’re renting because you’re off on vacation or about to close a big business deal!

Check out these 3 tips on the rental car process. A few extra minutes when you’re picking up can ensure you have a great time from beginning to end!

rentalcar620-large_600x400 Fill Up the Gas Tank!

Imagine you’re running late for your return flight. You’re tired from the long trip, and, of course, the gas tank is almost empty. You’re not sure where the closest (and cheapest!) gas station is, so now you’re stuck with the decision: Pay the fuel surcharge because you returned the rental car empty or risk missing your flight searching for a gas station in an unfamiliar environment. Avoid this scenario by scouting stations in the vicinity before you pick up the car. Or ask the agent where they fill up!

Read the Contract

It’s tempting to sign the rental agreement without reading or even discussing it with the agent. But not knowing what isn’t allowed under the agreement could end up costing you later.

For example, companies often charge more for out-of-state driving, and, if you’re planning to head into Canada or Mexico, it’s good to know that many don’t permit driving out of the country. In some cases, you may be restricted from driving in large cities or on gravel roads. If you’re planning to drop a rental car off at a different location, be sure to ask if there will be an extra charge. There are also restrictions on who does the driving and additional fees if one of the drivers is under 25. If someone who isn’t authorized to drive has an accident, the insurance may not cover the costs.

Check The Condition…Inside and Out

Inspect the exterior and interior prior to leaving the lot. It’s good to bring the agent along for the check, and the two of you should come to an agreement as to the car’s condition. Look for scratches, dents and chips on the outside and tears, stains and electric malfunctions on the interior. By the same token, you should avoid dropping off the vehicle without having it inspected. If both parties agree on its return condition, there won’t be any surprise problems down the road!

Follow these few simple tips, and you’ll avoid the most common rental problems!

Brian Schneider
abovethebarwithbrian@gmail.com
(614) 418-7574

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Want a Relaxing Vacation? Try a Rental Car

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9638435181_7e3e44c2b8_zIt’s the heart of family vacation season. Trips to national parks, amusement parks and beaches will take many families hundreds of miles from home this summer.

As you plan your summer getaway, you’re probably defaulting to driving your own vehicle to save money. But there are advantages to parking the family vehicle for the week and letting a clean, cozy, well-maintained rental car make the trip.

According to AAA, the total cost of driving a large sedan 15,000 miles a year costs 75 cents a mile including gas, maintenance, tires and depreciation. This means a 1,000-mile vacation may cost $750.

You’re probably assuming you’ll be spending the same on gas in your own vehicle as you would in a rental. But this is not always the case. If you’ve put on a significant number of miles, your vehicle has likely lost some of its fuel economy. It happens with age.

Rental cars are meticulously maintained meaning they should be achieving near maximum fuel efficiency. Can you honestly say that about your car that’s overdue for a tuneup and could use a little more air in the tires?

3377695418_58249dd56d_zConservatively speaking, a relatively new family vehicle should net 25 mpg while a moderately used model may only be getting 20 mpg. If you drive 1,000 miles in the rental, you’ll use 40 gallons of fuel while the latter vehicle will take 50 gallons of fuel. In this scenario, at $3.50 a gallon, (if you’re lucky!) you’ll spend an extra $35 driving an older vehicle.

Every car is different, so check your car’s manual to make sure you know when it needs an oil change and a tire rotation. Driving your own vehicle on a long-distance family vacation puts you that much closer to these milestones. In addition, those miles use up fluids and tire tread and wear down belts and hoses!

Every mile you put on your car also lowers its value. At some point, you’ll want to sell or trade it for a newer model, so keep the mileage low, especially if you are leasing, by taking someone else’s car on vacation.

Besides, you’re on vacation! Escape reality for a week and share new experiences with the family. You see new places, eat at restaurants you normally don’t and stay at a place where someone cleans up after you for a change. Why not make the journey just as thrilling as the destination?

photo credit: William Warby via Flickr cc
photo credit: Valerie Everett via Flickr cc by-sa 2.0

You Just Wrecked Your Rental Car. Now What?

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car accident

You and your family are on the way to Disneyland in your rented minivan when you, in your excitement, forget to yield and smash into an oncoming car. You’ve just wrecked your rental car.

Or while heading from the airport to your hotel to prepare for tomorrow’s presentation, you fail to notice the deer darting in front of your rented sedan. You’ve just wrecked your rental car.

Car accidents are never easy to deal with. When they occur in a rental vehicle far from home, they bring added chaos.

As with any accident, the first thing to do is make sure all parties involved are physically OK. As long as nobody needs medical attention, it’s then time to address your crunched up rental car and the other vehicle(s) involved.

As soon as possible, contact the rental car company and explain the situation, then ask how to proceed. How the process continues will depend on whether you purchased insurance or a collision damage waiver (CDW) from the rental company or opted to cover damages from your own personal policy.

Some rental insurance policies provide full coverage in any accident, meaning they would cover the damages of both the rental car and the one you hit if you were at fault. There might, however, be a deductible to pay. Furthermore, if the rental insurance includes or you purchased an additional collision damage waiver (CDW), you will not have to pay additional rental fees for the car.

If you opted not to purchase the additional rental insurance or CDW, the process after an accident will be a little more complicated.

As you would with an accident involving your own vehicle, you will want to contact your insurance company. Get a copy of the police report. If your policy includes collision and comprehensive, the insurer will cover damages minus your deductible. In the case of the rental car, the insurer will pay the rental car company, with the payments being subject to the terms of your insurance policy. This means that whether or not you were at fault, you must pay your deductible directly to the rental company, as the company is entitled to have the car fixed as soon as possible.

Restrictions on your personal policy can cause some additional headaches. If you don’t have rental coverage on your policy, you will owe the daily fee to the rental company as if you were still renting the car. So if it takes five days to repair the vehicle to get it back into service, you will owe five days of rental charges. Even if you do carry loss of use coverage in your policy, you’ll have to owe the difference to the rental company if the limit is below what the rental car would usually go for.

So while it may seem at the time of renting that paying for extra insurance is a waste, like all insurance it’s great to have in the rare occurrence that you actually need it.

photo credit: osseous via photopin cc