10 Rental Car Safety Precautions When You're Renting a Car

10 Rental Car Safety Precautions When You're Renting a Car

Rental Car Safety Tips 2023

WRITTEN BYBryan Jacinto
PUBLISHED ONSeptember 14, 2023

Renting a car can be an exciting and convenient way to explore a new destination. However, it's important to prioritize safety while on the road.

Whether you drive abroad often or are renting a car for the first time, this article provides practical tips to ensure your safety on the road while driving a rental car.

Which of the following precautions should you take when renting a vehicle?

Car rentals are growing in popularity. Renting a car abroad is a simple process. It offers a level of freedom and mobility and can even contribute to saving on transportation costs. However, it is also associated with common pitfalls that you need to avoid, not to incur unexpected costs or legal consequences.

1. Understand the rental agreement

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The rental agreement typically includes important information such as the rental period, the daily rate, mileage restrictions, fuel policy, and any additional fees or charges. It may also specify the insurance coverage provided by the rental company and any limitations or requirements related to it.

Pay close attention to the terms and conditions, as well as any fine print. Take note of the rental period, including the pick-up and drop-off times, to avoid any late return penalties.

Familiarize yourself with the fuel policy. Some rental companies require you to return the car with a full tank of gas, while others may charge you for a full tank upfront and allow you to return it empty.

If there are any sections of the rental agreement that you do not understand, do not hesitate to ask the rental company for clarification. It is better to seek clarification before signing the agreement than to face issues later on.

2. Check the car's safety features

When renting a car, it is crucial to check the car's safety features to ensure your well-being on the road.

  • Start by inspecting the seat belts to ensure they are in good condition and functioning properly. Pull on the belts to check for any signs of fraying or damage. Make sure all the seat belts in the car are present and in working order.
  • Examine the airbags in the vehicle. Check if there are airbags for both the driver and the passengers. Ensure that the airbags have not been deployed previously and that there are no warning lights indicating any issues with the airbag system.
  • Another essential safety feature to check is the anti-lock braking system (ABS). This system prevents the wheels from locking up during sudden braking, allowing the driver to maintain control of the vehicle. Test the ABS by applying firm pressure to the brake pedal and ensuring that it does not pulsate or skid.
  • Inspect the car's tires to ensure they have sufficient tread depth and are in good condition. Bald or worn-out tires can significantly affect the car's handling and increase the risk of accidents. Additionally, check if the tires are properly inflated by using a tire pressure gauge.
  • Verify that the car is equipped with functioning headlights, taillights, and turn signals. These lights are essential for visibility and communication with other drivers on the road. Test each light individually to ensure they are working correctly.
  • Check the rental vehicle's rearview and side mirrors to ensure they are adjustable and provide a clear view of the surroundings. Properly adjusted mirrors are crucial for eliminating blind spots and enhancing overall visibility while driving.
  • Check the rental vehicle's rearview and side mirrors to ensure they are adjustable and provide a clear view of the surroundings. Properly adjusted mirrors are crucial for eliminating blind spots and enhancing overall visibility while driving.
  • Make sure the car is equipped with functioning windshield wipers and washer fluid. Adequate visibility during rain or snow is essential for safe driving. Test the wipers to ensure they effectively clear the windshield and that the washer fluid reservoir is filled.
  • Check if the car has a functioning horn. The horn is a vital communication tool on the road and can help alert other drivers of your presence or potential dangers. Give it a quick test to ensure it is loud and clear.
  • Familiarize yourself with the car's safety manual and any additional safety features it may have. Understanding how to use features like traction control, stability control, or lane departure warning systems can greatly enhance your safety while driving the rental car.

3. Inspect the car for any damages

Inspect the car for any damages

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Vehicle inspection is an essential step before renting a car. Begin by thoroughly examining the exterior of the vehicle checking for scratches, dents, or any signs of previous accidents. Take note of any damages and make sure the rental company documents them.

Next, inspect the interior of the car. Look for any stains, tears, or damages to the seats, dashboard, or other components. Ensure that all the lights, indicators, and controls are functioning properly.

Pay attention to the tires as well. Check the tread depth and look for any signs of wear or damage. It's important to have properly inflated tires for a safe and comfortable ride.

Don't forget to inspect the windshield and windows for any cracks, chips, or other damages. Clear visibility is crucial for safe driving, so make sure there are no obstructions or impairments.

During the inspection, also check the condition of the spare tire, jack, and other emergency equipment. These items can be crucial in case of a breakdown or flat tire.

If you notice any damages or issues during the inspection, inform the rental company immediately. Take pictures or videos as evidence, and ensure that they are aware of the pre-existing damages before you drive off.

Remember, inspecting the car for damages is not only for your own safety but also to avoid being held responsible for any pre-existing issues.

4. Avoid driving in unfamiliar areas at night

When renting a car, it is advisable to avoid driving in unfamiliar areas at night. This is because navigating through unknown roads in the dark can increase the risk of accidents and getting lost.

It can be challenging to read road signs, identify landmarks, and gauge the behavior of other drivers when visibility is low.

Driving in unfamiliar areas at night can also make you more vulnerable to crime and unsafe situations. Some areas may have higher crime rates or poorly lit streets, making it easier for criminals to target unsuspecting drivers.

If you find yourself needing to drive in an unfamiliar area at night, take extra precautions to ensure your safety. Make sure your rental car is in good working condition, with properly functioning headlights and taillights.

To minimize the risks associated with driving in unfamiliar areas at night, consider using navigation tools or GPS devices to help you navigate. These tools can provide real-time directions, alert you to upcoming turns, and help you stay on track.

Lastly, if you must drive in an unfamiliar area at night, inform someone about your plans. Let a friend, family member, or the hotel staff know your intended route and estimated time of arrival. This way, someone will be aware of your whereabouts and can raise an alarm if you don't arrive as expected.

5. Keep important documents and emergency numbers handy

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This image is a property of autodeal.com.ph

Make sure to have your driver's license, passport, and any other identification documents readily accessible. This will not only help you avoid any legal issues but also ensure a smooth rental process.

In addition to identification documents, it is essential to keep emergency numbers easily accessible. Save the local emergency services number, as well as the contact information for the rental car company, in your phone or write them down on a piece of paper. This way, you can quickly reach out for assistance in case of any accidents, breakdowns, or other emergencies.

Another important aspect to consider when renting a car is obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP). An IDP is a document that translates your driver's license into multiple languages, making it easier for authorities to understand your credentials in foreign countries. It is recommended to obtain an IDP before traveling to a destination where it is required or highly recommended. Check the driving regulations of your destination to determine if an IDP is necessary and obtain one if needed.

6. Park in well-lit and secure areas

Park in well-lit areas to enhance your safety. Well-lit areas provide better visibility, making it easier to spot any potential threats or suspicious activities around your vehicle.

Look for parking lots or garages that have security measures in place, such as surveillance cameras or security personnel. These measures can deter criminals and reduce the risk of theft or vandalism.

Remember to lock your rental car and close all windows before leaving it parked. This simple precaution can help prevent unauthorized access to your vehicle and protect your belongings.

When parking in public areas, be mindful of any signs or regulations that may apply. Follow parking rules and restrictions to avoid fines or towing, which can add unnecessary stress and expenses to your trip.

Before leaving your rental car parked, remove any valuable items or personal belongings from plain sight. Stow them in the trunk or take them with you to minimize the temptation for thieves.

If you are parking overnight or for an extended period, choose a location that is well-monitored and has a good reputation for car security. Research online or ask locals for recommendations on safe parking options in the area.

7. Practice defensive driving techniques

Practice defensive driving techniques

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One important defensive driving technique is to always stay alert and focused while driving. Avoid distractions such as using your phone, eating, or adjusting the radio. Keep your eyes on the road and be aware of your surroundings.

Maintaining a safe following distance is another crucial defensive driving technique. Leave enough space between your car and the vehicle in front of you to allow for sudden stops or changes in traffic flow.

Anticipating potential hazards is key to defensive driving. Be aware of other drivers' behavior and anticipate their actions.

Using your mirrors effectively is an important part of defensive driving. Regularly check your rearview and side mirrors to be aware of the traffic around you.

Obeying traffic laws and speed limits is a fundamental aspect of defensive driving. Follow all traffic rules, including stopping at red lights and stop signs, yielding to pedestrians, and using turn signals when changing lanes or making turns.

Being aware of your own limitations and driving within your comfort zone is crucial for defensive driving. If you feel tired, stressed, or impaired in any way, it's best to take a break or let someone else drive.

8. Don't drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Driving while intoxicated is illegal and dangerous, risking both your safety and others'. If you're planning to consume alcohol or drugs, arrange for a different transportation method. Consider a designated driver, taxi, or ride-share service.

Even mild intoxication can affect your driving, so always choose a sober driver or different transport. Remember, DUI penalties can be serious, ranging from fines to jail time in many places.

If you suspect a drunk driver, maintain safe distance and report it to authorities. Your actions could prevent accidents and save lives.

9. Keep an emergency kit in the rental car

Keep an emergency kit in the rental car

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An emergency kit in your rental car is important for safety and peace of mind. It should have basic items like a first aid kit, flashlight, and fire extinguisher for emergencies. Other useful items to add are a reflective vest, warning triangles, and a roadside assistance number. These can increase your visibility and warn other drivers of hazards.

Consider adding a tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, and a multi-tool to your kit. These can help with car maintenance and minor repairs.

Don't forget essentials like bottled water, snacks, and a blanket. These can be useful if you're stranded. Always be prepared for the unexpected.

Before you travel, check your kit and replace any missing or expired items. Having an emergency kit in your car can help you effectively handle unexpected situations and maintain safety.

10. Ensure the car is properly locked when unattended

Always ensure doors and windows are locked before leaving the rental car. This aids in preventing theft or unauthorized access.

Test each door handle to confirm they're locked. This allows you to be sure that the car is secure.

If the car has a remote keyless entry, listen for the sound or look for the light that indicates it's locked. These signals indicate the car's locked status.

If the car doesn't have a remote system, manually lock each door with the key given by the rental company. Turning the key fully ensures the lock is fully engaged.

If you have issues with the car's lock or suspect a fault, notify the rental company. They can provide help or a replacement vehicle.

Lastly, follow any safety instructions provided by the rental company. These guidelines can help ensure a safe rental experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you dent a car?

If you dent a rental car, it is important to take immediate action. The first step is to assess the damage and determine if it is a minor dent or a major one.

Minor dents, such as small scratches or dings, may not require immediate reporting.

However, if the dent is significant or affects the functionality of the car, it is crucial to inform the rental car company as soon as possible. Most rental agreements require you to report any damage to the vehicle, regardless of its severity.

Depending on the rental car company's policies, you may be liable for the cost of repairs. This can vary from paying a deductible to covering the full cost of repairs.

How long can you keep a rental car?

The duration for which you can keep a rental car depends on the rental company and your rental agreement. Most rental car companies offer daily, weekly, and monthly rental options to cater to different needs and preferences.

If you require a car for a longer duration, such as a week or more, rental companies often provide discounted weekly rates.

For extended periods, such as a month or longer, some rental companies offer monthly rental plans that can be more cost-effective.

Keep in mind that exceeding the agreed-upon rental period without notifying the rental company may result in additional charges or penalties.

Who can drive a car rental?

In most cases, anyone who is at least 18 years old and holds a valid driver's license can drive a car rental. However, some rental companies may have specific age requirements, such as being at least 25 years old.

Additionally, rental companies often require drivers to have a clean driving record, meaning no major violations or recent accidents. They may also ask for a credit card in the driver's name to cover any potential damages or additional charges.

It's worth noting that some rental companies may impose additional fees or restrictions for drivers under the age of 25. These fees are typically referred to as 'young driver surcharges' and can vary depending on the rental company and location.

If you plan to have multiple drivers for the rental car, it's crucial to inform the rental company in advance. They may require additional drivers to be listed on the rental agreement and may charge an extra fee for each additional driver.

Closing Thoughts

Taking safety precautions when renting a car is necessary for a smooth and secure driving experience. By following these rental car tips, you can minimize risks and ensure a worry-free journey.

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your fellow driving tourists. Your safety is important to us, and by spreading awareness about rental car safety, we can help others make informed decisions, too.

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