5 tips for inspecting a rental car

November 30, 2014

Whether you're renting a car for a road trip vacation, a business trip or because your own car has let you down, car rental can be a simple affair if you follow these tips.

5 tips for inspecting a rental car

1. Go with who you know

It’s generally better to use car rental companies you know and trust, or ones that have outlets where you live.

  • It's helpful to get to know the car rental company you're using so you can familiarize yourself with their process and regulations.

2. Take your time

Regardless of the situation, it's important that you take your time when signing up for a rental car. Ask questions and have the clerk take you through the agreement to make sure you fully understand it.

Some questions to ask:

  • Will there be an inspection when you return the car?
  • What happens if you drop off keys after-hours?
  • Will the clerk you are signing up with be working when you return the car?
  • What happens if there is a dispute?

3. Inspect it together

When it comes to the actual inspection of the vehicle, make sure you walk around with the clerk to ensure he or she documents all the dings, scrapes and marks that exist.

Remember to check common impact areas. These include:

  • Areas around the back bumper, especially the lower edge
  • Side panels, particularly near the wheels
  • Door areas around the key slots
  • Front bumper, particularly in low areas near the edges

4. Inspect inside and out

It’s important to have a look inside the car. Double check high traffic areas to make sure that any wear is documented by the clerk. You could also pop the trunk.

Some people choose to use their phone’s camera to take photos of any problem areas. While this may feel excessive, it can provide peace of mind in case there are any disputes.

5. The voyage home

When you’re returning the car, make sure you and a clerk have a chance to review the car together. You should insist on this, as it will allow you both to review and ensure that the car you’re returning is in the same condition.

Traveling can be a world of surprises, but by following these tips for inspecting a rental car, additional charges from the car rental company shouldn't be one of them.

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