One of the best things about going on holiday is that sense of freedom you get when you’re miles away from the stresses and strains of daily life. And an even better way to enhance that feeling is by hiring a car and taking a long drive through country roads, mountain passes or cruising past the coast without a care in the world.
But the holiday of a lifetime has all too often turned into a nightmare for people who have set off on an adventure in a rented car, only to come unstuck when it turns out to be a death trap.
Many foreign countries have standards that are much lower than the standards we have in the UK and car rental is often widely unregulated. But there are certain things that you can do when choosing a rental car that will ensure you remember your holiday for all the right reasons…
Low cost, low quality?
You may be tempted by the low prices offered by locals who rent out cheap run-arounds to holidaymakers from their driveways, but stay well away! Stick to the reputable companies who can offer some sort of safety net should things go wrong. Many small rental companies run by locals do not have the means to service their vehicles regularly and often carry out bodge repair jobs with car parts that are far from genuine!
The adage ‘you get what you pay for’ has never been more true than when applied to car rental abroad, so whatever you do, check that the company you use is reputable. You don’t have to book car rental before you arrive but it does help to do a bit of research as to what options are available to you when you get there – this should also prevent you from giving into an impulse purchase once you become weary from traipsing around the resort in such of a trusty Land Rover for hire.
Treat the car as if it was your own…
When hiring a car abroad it’s important to treat it as though it is a used car that you are buying back home. This means giving it the once over before you part with your money.
Inspecting the exterior for rust, gaps, bangs, bubbling paint, broken lights…
Checking tires for uneven wear and tread…
Ensuring that all seatbelts are working…
Levels of oil and water are sufficient
Checking that the suspension is fine by testing the vehicles’ ‘bounce rate’
Photos, photos, photos – you’re on holiday so there is no excuse for not having your camera with you. Make sure that you take pictures of the car before you rent it and get the rental company to do a walk round with you and sign off any knocks or dents that are already there.
One major issue when it comes to car rental abroad is the terms and conditions. Before you sign anything, check the excess and terms of liability. You’ll want to know who is liable should the car break down or get into an accident.
Finally, make sure you’re aware of who is paying for the petrol. Some companies include the petrol; some give you a full tank but expect you to pay for it; some give you a full tank and ask you to refill it before you return and others don’t give you any petrol at all!
Holidays are something that we save up for all year round so the last thing that anyone wants is to ending up forking out much much more due to dodgy car rentals and unforeseen expenses.