Renting a car means some risk; if you return the car damaged and the agency's insurance doesn't cover the damage, and your own car insurance doesn't kick in, you may be liable for the costs. You may also find that you're charged for things you weren't expecting when you made the rental arrangement. Note a few ways to minimize your risks of liability and extra charges when renting a car during your travels.
1. Read reviews online
Just as you can read reviews of hotels and restaurants online, you can also read reviews of car rental agencies before signing any contracts. Look for customer comments about surprise charges, lack of choices for a vehicle, not having the vehicle promised, and so on. This can be the first step to ensuring you choose a reputable rental agency.
2. Ask if there are restrictions about vehicle usage
Don't assume you can take a rental vehicle anywhere, especially onto rough and rugged terrain, even if it's a sports vehicle or four-wheel drive. Ask if you're restricted from taking the vehicle to the beach, off-roading, into the desert or outback, and the like if these are your plans for your travels. Some agencies might even restrict you from using a car ferry or from taking it to nearby festivals and other events that may increase the risk of the car suffering damage. Talk to a professional rental company like 1300meteor rentals and ask if they have any specific restrictions for their vehicles.
3. Inspect the vehicle for prior damage
If you notice any small dents or dings on a vehicle, take photos of it before you take it out on the road. Write a note in your contract about the dents or dings and where they're located, so the rental agency has it on record that you are not responsible for that damage. This will protect you from being charged for dents or other damage that is not your fault.
4. Ask outright about additional charges and read your contract carefully
Very often a person is charged for extra mileage, excessive filth, and other such reasons, and while they may be surprised to see those charges, they're usually outlined in the contract. Often the person renting the car simply doesn't read over the contract carefully enough or won't ask about potential charges they don't understand. Go over the contract paragraph by paragraph and ask outright what each type of charge might include and be sure you understand how they might apply to you--before you ever take the car off the lot.
I've always driven used cars, and when I first started driving, I made some costly decisions and bought a couple of cars that just weren't worth the money I spent on them. I knew I needed to learn how to inspect a car's engine and how to spot warning signs when I was buying a used car, so I started reading everything I could find on the topic, including basic car mechanics and maintenance. I started this blog to share what I've learned over the years, and I hope my tips will prevent other new drivers buying used cars that will drain their wallet and sap the enjoyment out of driving. I hope you find my posts informative and useful.