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What Do I Need to Know About Renting a Car?

Whether for convenience during a vacation or as a temporary replacement for your regular rig in the shop, renting a car can be an enormous relief. Tumultuous transportation situations are nothing to joke about, and the stress of not knowing when or how you’ll get to where you need to be can have some major consequences. Renting a car can be pretty helpful if you don’t have access to your own transportation, but there are a few things to keep in mind when heading to the rental dealership.

What am I using it for?

If you’re set on renting a vehicle, keep in mind what you’ll be using it for and how it will affect your budget. For vacation vehicles, realize that you may be doing more traveling than usual and check out gas mileage accordingly. No sense in renting a pickup or SUV that gets 10-12 miles per gallon when you only have one or two passengers while a sedan can do the trick with 1/3 of the fuel. If you’re looking to temporarily alleviate a transportation dilemma with your car in the shop, try to find something as close to what you usually need as possible.

Can I get a break down of the daily charges?

It’s no secret that renting a car can be expensive. With an enormous variety of vehicles to choose from and a seemingly small daily price, it can be easy to go overboard and get something unnecessarily expensive. Every different vehicle will have different insurance quotes, fuel prices, and other associated daily charges. Ask the customer representative you’re dealing with to break down each and every charge until you’ve reached the total daily cost. Don’t pay for something if you don’t know what it is or why you need it!

What do I do in the event of a breakdown or accident?

Vehicular accidents, while unfortunate, are a part of life. Looking into the different types of insurance may seem expensive, but keep in mind that if you’re on vacation you may be driving in unfamiliar territory with different laws and drivers. Make sure that you specifically ask a representative of the rental company what to do in the event of an emergency such as a break down or accident. While vehicles owned by rental companies are typically very well maintained, you don’t want to be stuck clueless with a non-functioning vehicle on your vacation.

What condition is the vehicle in?

This is perhaps one of the most important points. Before renting anything at all, make sure that you have a chance to inspect it before you commit to any contracts or agreements. Most companies will give you a sheet with a few pictures of a car so you can mark any dings, dents, or other damage prior to renting. In this situation it’s always better to err on the side of caution and spend the extra 15 minutes marking every discrepancy you can find. Don’t get caught paying for a ding somebody else left, take the time to check!

In what condition should I return the vehicle?

It’s pretty well known that bringing a rental car back on empty can result in a huge charge for fuel. In fact, not only will you be paying for the fuel itself but also for the “refueling service.” This can cost several times the regular amount per gallon, so the extra few minutes may be worth it. Ask how clean the vehicle needs to be before you return it as well, just to be sure you don’t get stuck with any unnecessary costs!

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