How to prevent costly car rental mistakes

How to prevent costly car rental mistakes

What might start out as simple car-hire exercise that takes you from A to B while you’re on a work trip or holiday could become an expensive – and shocking - credit card bill. There are ways to avoid costly car rental mistakes, some of which involve reading all the fine print, and getting full cover.

These car rental tips will help prevent nasty rental surprises:

Knowledge is power – read all the online info and Ts and Cs

Before you collect your car, read all the rental terms and conditions. You need to know what you’ll be liable for in the event of damage or theft, and what your selected waiver will cover. Often a car rental representative won’t have the time to explain all the fine print when you collect your car, so best you get information beforehand.

If you’re booking the car through a third-party company, don’t rely on their website for all the terms and conditions – rather read everything on the rental company’s website.

Take note of the applicable daily kilometres

Ensure you know how many kilometres will be covered in your daily rental, otherwise you’ll have to pay for every kilometre you exceed. Work out what you’ll likely be driving per day, and factor in more for getting lost or making extra trips. Consider this when choosing a plan. If you’re going to be driving a lot, rather consider a package that has unlimited kilometres.

Inspect the car thoroughly on pickup

While it’s tempting to hop in the car and be on your merry way, check the vehicle thoroughly for any damage not indicated on the paperwork they give you and report anything to the company representative as you might be liable to pay for damages you weren’t responsible for. Take pictures of the car too for added proof.

Get coverage

Even if you won’t be driving far, getting good coverage could mean the difference between paying a few hundred rand and many thousands to pay for repair/replacement. Remember there are sometimes unforeseen circumstances like potholes, hail and other drivers’ negligence that could cause damage to your rental.

Ask if your waiver covers rim, tyre and windscreen damage as these are the most common damages that happen.

Get a car suited to your type of trip

A low-end hatchback might be perfect for zipping to and from business meetings, but it might not be ideal for longer trips that require off-road driving. Why? Aside from a comfort issue, a hatchback might not handle those dirt roads, and could get damaged, which might be for your account. Also remember to take into account your luggage. A small car might be ok for squeezing in four people, but not luggage for four people!

Traffic fines are for your own account

Just because you’re paying for a hired car, doesn’t mean that it will include your speeding and parking fines. Everything that happens under “your watch” becomes your responsiblilty.

Fill up with petrol before you drop the car off

When you collect the vehicle, the petrol tank should be full. Make sure you fill up the tank once again when you drop off the car – sometimes car rental company’s charge an exorbitant amount to top up the tank if you haven’t done so.

Drop off the car on time

Most car rental companies allow for a grace period of about 30 minutes when dropping off the car. If you return the car after this grace period there’s a good chance you will be charged for an extra day.

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