Renting a car

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Revision as of 19:58, 15 November 2006 by DenisYurkin (talk | contribs) (Returning a car)
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Renting a car

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Renting a car may be a good alternative to a taxi, while providing much more flexibility than travelling by public transport like buses or trains.

Finding rental company

Normally, rental companies have offices in major cities, plus airports, large seaports and large train stations.


Price is normally calculated by number of days. The more days you take, the less you pay per day. Usually, price decreases on the following points: 1 day, 2 days, 5 days, 7 days.

If you have signed a contract for N days, but returned the car later, normally price per day is applied from your contract, not based on your actual duration of rent.

Price for durations less than a day normally are not regulated, so it always takes bargaining.

Booking and haggling

Booking in advance (either over Internet or through an agent) guarantees you a car, but it also fixes the price. When you reach your target country, you can't expect any discounts as renter secured you as a client when you have reservation. When possible, find two companies providing nearly the same price and level of service, then book only with one of them. This both gives your room for bargaining on price with one company (20% can be introductory discount, more depends on your skills), while you have a backup with another company.

Local representative of a global renting company will accept pre-payment for your reservation, but it may act just an agent, bearing no responsibility for condition of car you get, on details of contract at the country where you drive, and giving you just the same information you have booking on the site (sometimes even unwilling to call the office at your target country). If you find your representative acts just like an agent, step back and book via Internet: you'll have same reservation, but also freedom to switch to another rental company--or to bargain with the company of your first choice for having a better car. However, if you need for some reason to give a prepayment, representative office will do the job.

Insurance, Deposit and Waiver

Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Liability Waiver limits your responsibilty to rental company in case of collision or theft respectively. Waivers are also called franchise. Technically, waiver is not an insurance--we need help here in understanding how they are different.

To ensure tourist will pay a waiver, rental companies take a deposit in either of two forms:

  • make a paper slip of your credit card stating no amount on it; ready to give the slip back to you upon normal return of the car
  • freeze some amount on your card (deposit; not necessary equal to franchise amount). Ask at the moment of rental how large the deposit is; expect the amount to be unfreezed weeks after you return the car.

Neither franchise amount nor deposit amount is officially fixed in any contract--this is based on your trust to rental company.

Third-party insurance is normally included in rental price.

Instructions that should be provided

When you are done with contract and papers, personnel should instruct you on every detail of using the car. Check against the following list if he misses something you really need:

  • what to do in case of accident; breakdown when you still can drive; breakdown if you can not
  • how should you react to traffic policeman; any local specifics of driving rules and conventions
  • controls of the car that differs between car vendors (rear gear, seat adjustment, lights, radio, opening gas tank etc)
  • what kind of fuel is recommended
  • whether it's safe in this region to leave a locked car with luggage
  • known issues of this car model, of this particular car

At personnel free will you will be provided with a free map of the region--but not necessarily.

Checking initial condition

Before you go, check exterior and front glass of the car and ask personnel to mark in the contract every scratch and dint you find--and sign the scheme on both copies of your contract. When you return a car, it will be checked against the scheme you put in the contract.

Check that all numbers in the car registration papers correspond to the numbers on your car (body, engine)--it will be too late if police find inconsistency in the middle of your journey.

Gas and mileage

Normally, car is given with nearly empty tank, and is expected to return also with a nearly empty tank.

Ensure with personnel that your mileage is unlimited.

If the car brokes

If car still can go, at least expect that rental company will change broken car to a healthy one, of the same or higher class. If the break totally prevents you from using a car, contact the rental company to return it ASAP, eliminating the risk of paying for days you actually couldn't use the car.

We still need experiences here on broken cars when travellers couldn't drive with it further.

Understanding fleet

Normally, rented cars should not run over 50k kilometers or live more than 2 years.

Asking for a CD player in the car radio works only in direct contact with your rental company; agents normally won't help with this.

Returning a car

Normally you return the car to rental office of your final point in its working hours and have final calculation there.

If you left a slip instead of deposit, don't be expect it to travel to your final destination. You need to trust personnel here.

In theory, it's possible to return the car even outside business hours of the nearest office:

  • choose a different office (usually, airport offices close later than in the downtown)
  • leaving all the papers and the keys either to a renter's trusted person (like another renter nearby, or a nearby shop)--along with a blank paper where you write your full name, time and date of return
  • leaving all the papers, keys and the notes at the desk of closed office (pushing it under a door etc)

What will happen with your deposit when you don't have anyone check the car is a question.

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