How to take care of a rental car

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A rental car is one of the most convenient ways to get around a new location.

It has all the comfort of your vehicle, but none of the responsibilities. It’s even more appealing if you’re not handy with cars, to begin with!

But then, should you be worried about the maintenance of your rented car? If so, how much of that is your responsibility? After all, you’re going to return the vehicle within a short time.

Read on to learn if and how to care for your rented car (without doing the rental company’s job for them).

Is maintaining the car your responsibility?

If the rental company keeps their cars in top shape, then you won’t have to. Thankfully, most companies check their vehicles after a return. They change the oil, pump the tires, and do everything else to keep the car in good working condition. After all, you wouldn’t rent a car that doesn’t run.

The rental company is also responsible for replacing parts. While parts like the spark plugs can be inexpensive, others like the Diesel core will require technical input. Luckily, this isn’t your problem!

What maintenance are you responsible for?

If the company gives you a fully functional car, they expect the vehicle to be in the same condition. This means you have to pay attention to things like driving correctly, keeping the vehicle clean, and avoiding fender benders. Let’s look at these closer.

Stay on the road

Many people don’t like to be upsold. If you ask for a modest two-wheel-drive sedan, you don’t want the agent recommending a 4WD SUV. However, you may want to take that recommendation, especially if your new town has unpaved roads.

Driving off-road is very different from staying on asphalt. The tires move differently, and the car can take a beating from bumps in the road. If you have to go off-road, you’ll find yourself wishing you’d taken the SUV instead of the sedan.

The potential damage from off-road driving includes wear and tear of the transmission and delays in shifting. In worse scenarios, you could have burning or leakage of the transmission fluid. If you notice these, you’ll have to see a mechanic before the car takes further damage.

Of course, all this can be avoided if you keep the sedan on the road and rent a 4WD for off-road activities. Stay on the road or allow yourself to be upsold.

Get insurance

One of the most significant reservations about getting rental insurance is that you might not need it, and that’s true. But then, if you get in an accident, the cost of fixing the car may cost more than a year of rental insurance, according to grunge insurance.

Most rental insurance plans are comprehensive enough to cover any accidents. Additionally, some auto insurance policies cover rental cars and private vehicles, so check with your provider before getting the additional cover on your rented car.

One more thing to keep in mind is that rental insurance policies are just like other insurance policies — they have terms and conditions. For example, if a friend or family member crashes the car, insurance may not cover it. This is another discussion to have with your provider.

Keep the vehicle clean

Keeping the car tidy is an easy fix. You can always visit a car wash and have it cleaned up for a few dollars. However, you may want to pay attention to this, particularly if you have children in the car.

Juice stains, paint scratches, and others can be pesky to handle. You may be indifferent about these with your car, but a rental needs special care. Plus, driving around in an untidy car isn’t pleasant for anyone.

Consider getting a small bin for the car. Receipts, wrappers, and other rubbish will find their way to the bin much quicker. Besides saving you time, it can also keep unpleasant smells out of the car. Air fresheners can actually freshen the air, instead of masking unpleasant odors.

Learn the rules of the road

If you have a driver’s license, you know how to drive. However, driving a new car in a different city can make most people feel like novices. It helps to learn the rules of the city you’re in.

Start from obvious things like the right side of the road, and move to the speed limit and other nuances. For example, traffic laws aren’t strictly enforced in India as in other parts of the world. Therefore, you may have to drive extra carefully to avoid fender benders, for example.

If you find yourself in Cyprus, you may only be allowed to drive on certain days of the week. The plate numbers are color-coded, and some colors are only allowed on the road on certain days.

In Germany, you’re not allowed to stop on the highway unless it’s an emergency. Even running out of gas could earn you a ticket. Learning these rules can keep you and your rented car out of trouble.

Check the car before you drive off the lot

In the beginning, we talked about how rental companies take good care of their cars. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t make errors. What’s more, a misunderstanding or oversight can have you taking responsibility for another customer’s mistakes.

It’s therefore essential to thoroughly check your rented car before you drive off the lot. If you notice anything unusual, document it and call the attention of the agent. If that’s not possible, take pictures — they’ll come in handy later.

Here a short list to guide your inspection:

  1. Walk around the car to see if there are dents, scratches, or loose parts.
  2. Check the tires to see if they are well-inflated and in good condition.
  3. Start the car and listen for strange sounds.
  4. Check for the spare tire, jack, and other tools.
  5. Drive the car around the lot a few times to get used to it.

The Bottom Line

It’s nice to know you aren’t responsible for the maintenance of your rented car. You simply pay for it and drive off. You’re even more at peace if you have insurance.

However, taking good care of your rented car can give you peace of mind and save you a few costs down the road. Plus, it’s a great habit to have for your own car’s sake. If you follow the tips in this guide, the rental company will be grateful for a customer like you!