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Car Hire Tips

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Car Rental Safety - NEW TIP
When you pick up your car make sure you become familiar with your vehicle and check for damage.

Outside the vehicle

  • Check front, back and side paintwork and bumpers for scratches and dents.
  • Check the windows for chips and scratches.
  • Check inside the boot for any damage.
  • Check the wheels and hub caps for damage

Inside the vehicle

  • Check for tears or stains on all the seats.
  • Make sure that the child's car seat is fitted correctly and you know how to fit it (if required).

About to drive

  • Adjust mirrors (including side mirrors).
  • Adjust the seat.
  • Make sure you know how to turn on/off the following before you drive away:
    • lights
    • brightness controls
    • windscreen wipers
    • windscreen washers
    • hazard/warning lights
    • indicators
    • Air conditioning
  • Make sure you know how to open and close the fuel cap.
  • Make sure you know what fuel to fill up with (diesel or petrol).
  • Make sure you have the emergency phone number to call if the car breaks down.

Compare Pickup Locations - NEW TIP
When researching for the best deal online be sure to check if your pickup location makes a difference to your overall price. Picking up your hire car from the airport maybe the most convenient but is it the best value for money?

Even choosing a location slightly away from the airport can make a big difference to the cost.

On May 27, the price of a midsized car booked 2 weeks in advance from a London airport location was 22% more expensive than booking a non-airport location less than 10 miles away from the airport.

Check the price difference between hiring a car from the airport and hiring from your final destination, that difference could have a big impact on your holiday budget.

Upgrade for free
At the pickup desk, ask for a larger, roomier car. The smaller, fuel efficient cars are often in high demand so car rental companies will sometimes upgrade for free. WARNING: Some car rental agents have autonomy when it comes to the price of upgrades and they may try and push expensive upgrades instead.

Have enough funds for the deposit and your holiday?
When you rent a car, the car rental company will 'authorise' a deposit normally amounting to a few hundred pounds. Make sure you have a card with enough capacity for this deposit and your holiday spending money.

Save money and rent what you REALLY need
Chose the model that suits your needs and remember you are not actually buying the car. Do you really need a 4x4 or a convertible? Do you need a family saloon when a medium sized hatchback will suffice? A 4x4 can be more than double the price of a medium sized family model.

Is insurance mandatory?
Car rental firms are bound by law to rent out vehicles that can legally be driven on the road. That means you are insured. But don't expect the same level of cover as you might have with your own car. That said; READ THE SMALL PRINT as the standard insurance is:-
1. likely to have a large excess (which is the amount you have to pay in the event of an accident before the policy will pay for the damage)
2. unlikely to cover you if you accidentally kill or injure yourself or a passenger
3. unlikely to cover any damage to the tyres, roof or windscreen of the hire car
4. may not even cover theft of your vehicle

Types of additional insurance
Collision damage waiver (CDW) - The basic cover that pays for damage or replacement of a vehicle if you have an accident. This will cover you for a considerable sum, but will only do so after you have paid an initial, agreed amount yourself first.

Theft waiver (TW) - Added insurance to cover the theft of the hire car. Also known as theft protection.

Super collision damage waiver (SCDW) - Covers tyres, roof and windscreen.

Personal insurance (PI) - Insures against the cost if you accidentally kill yourself or a passenger.

Personal effects cover (PEC) - Covers property that has been stolen from a vehicle.

Get insurance in advance
If you do decide to take additional insurance then plan ahead and get insurance before you pickup your car. Otherwise, you have to accept the car rental company's policies at inflated prices, or drive away with no protection against a host of potential problems.

Save money on insurance
Check whether some of the insurance is already covered by insurance agreements you may already have. E.g. via credit card, travel insurance or your personal car insurance.

Skip the airport
Renting from the airport is almost always more expensive than renting in town. Check if your hotel transfer is included in your holiday package and renting in town therefore becomes feasible.

Avoid using call centres unless absolutely necessary
1. Bookings made via a call centre can be more expensive because the car rental company needs to cover the cost of the call centre staff.
2. Some rental companies use premium rate phone lines.
3. Car rental staff are sales driven and often earn additional commission by selling upgrades, insurance, cancellation protection, a GPS, an additional driver, etc .

Book 'specialist' vehicles a long time in advance
It is essential that vehicles such as 6 or 8 seat vans, minivans, or high-end cars like sports cars are booked a long time in advance to avoid disappointment. Miss that 8 seater and face the costs of having to hire two vehicles.

Book rentals during 'peak times' a long time in advance
On popular times during the year such as Easter, Christmas and Bank Holidays, car rental suppliers WILL run out of cars in certain locations. Avoid disappointment by booking a long time in advance.

Avoid age surcharges
Some car rental companies charge drivers under a certain age (e.g. under 25) an additional daily surcharge. This can add hundreds to the cost of the car hire so where possible make sure the driver is over 25.

Hidden costs of fuel
Some car rental suppliers deliver the car with a full tank of fuel and request it back either full or empty. Whilst it is impossible to return it empty, returning the car near empty means you get almost a full tank of fuel free. Check the rules on fuel when choosing your rental.


© Red Group Solutions Ltd. 2013