Car Rental Etiquette: Dos and Don'ts Every Renter Should Know

Whether for a day, a week, or a month, renting a car can be a wiser choice than buying one. Just be sure you shop around and make your booking on the rental company’s website, where they can’t hide extra fees.

Don’t Forget to Inspect the Car

Many car rental companies inspect the vehicles they rent to customers when they pick them up. This is done to ensure that the car is in good condition. It also helps the company avoid being held liable for pre-existing damage. This is why renters must inspect the vehicle independently and take pictures of any scratches or dents before driving off the lot.

It’s also a good idea to thoroughly clean the car before returning it. This is because some rental car companies charge a cleaning fee if the vehicle is returned too dirty.

Also, make sure to return the car with a full gas tank. This is because more and more rental companies require that vehicles be returned with the same level of fuel they were given.

This is a way to reduce waste and manage costs. However, purchasing a fuel plan from a rental car company might be okay; visit this website to learn more about their car rental services.

Don’t Skip the Test Drive

If you don’t do this, you could end up renting a car that isn’t right for you and wind up footing the bill for an expensive rental. This is why it is always a good idea to test drive a vehicle before you sign a contract.

The same goes for deciding on which add-ons to pay for. Some rental companies charge an excessive amount for things like satellite radio. Bringing your portable GPS device will save you money and keep you from paying extra for those pesky toll fees.

During peak season, shopping around and checking prices at all major booking engines and car rental company websites is essential. You are also asking for a lower rate’s always a good idea. Many offices are willing to cut rates if you call and plead your case, particularly for young renters. Some may even have a program that will discount the under-25 surcharge.

Don’t Forget to Take Pictures

Taking pictures is an essential part of the car rental process. Million Mile Secrets reader Elsa has made it a habit to take photos of the vehicle’s interior and exterior when she picks it up, as well as before and after driving it away. It’s a good idea and a way to protect yourself from damage bills that rental car companies sometimes issue.

The photos can help prove that you didn’t do any pre-existing damage to the car when you drove it off the lot and show that you refueled it to the correct level and didn’t exceed your mileage limit. Use your smartphone’s time stamp to document when you took the photos, and email yourself a copy right after. It’ll save you a lot of stress down the road.

Don’t Forget to Sign the Contract

Car rental contracts are essential documents that communicate many aspects of the vehicle you’re renting. They typically include the status of the vehicle, terms and payment agreements, rights and obligations of both parties, deposit provision, liability for breach of contract, dispute resolution, amendment and termination, auto insurance provision, and signatures of both parties.

It’s also a good idea to review the contract before signing it, ensuring all marks and scratches are listed as present on the vehicle. If these aren’t recorded, the renter could take responsibility for them upon the car’s return.

Other items to review include the rental company’s fuel fee and any other additional fees. These are common in some places, but some companies tack on extra charges that are not necessarily required. This is how they can make their prices seem higher than they are. These are the kinds of things that inexperienced renters can fall victim to.