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7 Common Car Hire Mistakes

Updated on June 4, 2014

Sometimes hiring a car (especially in a foreign country) can seem like a minefield with so many options to choose from. Read on for some common car hire mistakes that people make.

Not Reserving In Advance

If you are holidaying in a busy time and at a popular holiday destination, reserving in advance can really save you time, stress and often money. It also means that you are most likely to get the best deal, not get pressurised into paying for unnecessary extras and also be able to specify the best vehicle for your requirements.

Not Choosing The Most Suitable Deal

When reserving a hire car, check the cost versus time measures. Sometimes it will work out cheaper to hire a car for 5 days rather than say 3, so do be aware of this when making the reservation.

Paying For Unnecessary Insurance

Car hire obviously requires insurance however car hire companies will often inflate this to make a healthy profit. There are a few things to consider concerning car hire insurance. For instance, you may already be insured through your own car insurance or credit card, rendering extra insurance pointless. If you do find yourself buying car insurance from the hire company, make sure that everything is required and that you are not paying for added on extras.

Not Inspecting The Car

When hiring a car initially ensure that you thoroughly inspect it, preferably with a company rep present. Any small details such as a scratched window or missing hubcap could lead to you being unfairly charged upon returning the car. Note anything no matter how insignificant or even take photos. Inspecting the car as if you were buying it will mean that you know exactly what you are hiring.

Reserving Too Large A Car

It can be tempting to upsize when renting a car but do consider whether or not you truly need that extra space. Of course it is more comfortable however remember to factor in extra costs such as fuel and more expensive insurance policies. Especially remember that the price of fuel differs by country, so don't be caught out. Driving abroad can be daunting too, so a smaller, more manageable car can simplify the driving experience. You won’t be spending your holiday in the car so ask yourself if you do need the excess room.

Paying For Expensive Accessories

Some car hire companies will try to sell you digital radio and navigation systems. Really though, do you need digital radio during your stay, and all smart phones have navigational technology nowadays meaning that taking these extras is a pointless expenditure.

Not Returning Your Car On Time

Ensure that you have given yourself enough time to return your car – over-estimate the time if necessary since some car rental companies will charge you extra for late returns. Don’t let yourself be caught out.

So enjoy your holiday and shop smart when it comes to car hire.

For more information about hiring a car, watch the handy video below.


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    • novascotiamiss profile image

      novascotiamiss 3 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Excellent article, voted useful. Even as a seasoned traveller I sometimes tend to make mistakes. E.g. in South Africa I left the car hire place without checking the fuel gauge. Only found out a few miles down the road that I had been cheated. Unfortunately we picked up the car just before the rental office closed so they rushed us out without giving us enough time to check for damages or the fuel gauge (big mistake). When returning it, the company wanted to make us responsible for two damages which we had not caused. Only after insisting for approx. 1 hour that we wouldn't pay for the damage did they let us go. Therefore, your comment about not being late absolutely makes sense, especially since the staff sometimes closes down the office unannounced for 20 minutes or so to go off for a break. If you have to catch a plane, this can be a nerve wracking experience. Another point to mention is: Before driving off, check where the nearest gas station is, so that you can fill up before returning the car. This mistake happened to me recently at Zurich Airport, where I assumed that there would be a gas station right at the Airport. There was none and since there were only one way roads I ended up at the car hire place with a half empty tank, which could have been very costly. I explained the mistake to the attendant and he was friendly enough to point me to the nearest gas station, which was a couple of miles down the road by the airport exit. Since I was early I had more than enough time for refuelling.