Car Rental Traps That Can Cost You Money!

by : Sam Ness

Car rental is no longer a domain of the upwardly mobile set, or people traveling on a business. Ordinary Americans use car rental as an affordable way of dealing with their transportation requirements. Dozens of multinational car hire companies, occupy booths of every major airport. Hundreds of the less known auto rentals operate along the major thoroughfares and from the parking lots of every major commercial center.

And because of their accessibility, services are often the first port of call, when it comes to getting a mean of transport, to cross the city, or move to the other end of the state. Yes, no special sophistication is required on part of the hirer.

The formalities are short and virtually anybody holding a drivers license, can get a key to the car he, or she, knows very little about…

No, I’m not talking about your driving skills, or your level of proficiency when driving an unknown model or make. The problem lies with the fact, that you’re taking a temporary possession of somebody else’s property, not knowing anything about its hidden faults, damages and limitations.

And don’t count on the staff at the hire yard. They are there to get you to sign the rental form, and receive the car back. And if you don’t know how to take care of your interests, you may be for a nasty surprise…

In case you thought that once you’ve paid an insurance cover, you’re fully protected; think twice. Have you taken more care, and read the “fine print", you would found out the limitations that make paying your $30 or more per day extra, a waste of money.

There are so many restrictions contained in rental car’s insurance policy, that it’s a virtually useless defense against paying for damages, from your own pocket. Especially so, in the case of relatively minor problems, costing $500-1000 to fix, at the neighboring panel beater. ?

What? Are you trying to explain, that you didn’t know? No excuse. It pays to read and know the regulations, or… pay from your own pocket. While it’s not the rule, given the opportunity car rentals’ employees will try to hide their own errors, and you’ll be the victim. Here are some typical examples of the situations that if prevented, could have saved the renter considerable monetary expenses, and mental anguish:

- Hired car had existing dents and scratches that were not listed on the hire agreement. The work to remedy them was charged to the current car user.

- Upon returning the car, petrol level was not checked and confirmed as being full. Hirer’s credit card was charged for a gas “top up" despite the fact, that it was not needed.

- Car was returned to the location different than the pick-up point. This incurred a surcharge of $170 being the transfer fee, for moving the vehicle to its original location.

Although all of these money costing situations could have been prevented by the hirer reading the rental agreement carefully, none would actually have arisen without the personnel acting dishonestly.

Without much generalization, these problems are more likely to occur when dealing with smaller car rental businesses where the owners will attempt to improve their “bottom line" at any opportunity. In case of the larger car hire companies, it will often be a result of the employees acting maliciously, or to cover their own mistakes.

Regardless of your individual circumstances, it’s your responsibility to make sure that you’re fully aware of the legal implications of your signature under the car rental agreement. If in doubt, ask at the service counter; visiting some related online sites like will help you understand the issues concerned better, and act more responsibly.