Car Rental Safety

Driving a rental car safely takes preparation. Here’s how.
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Car Rental Success

Millions of people rent a car for business or pleasure each year. While similar in many ways to your own car, a rental car is an unfamiliar vehicle and requires some getting used to. With the right preparation driving a rental car can be just as easy and safe as driving your own car.

These tips can help to put you on the road to car rental safety.

Get Familiar

  • Stay in your Comfort Zone
    Rent a vehicle that you are physically capable of controlling. If you’re concerned about the differences between a rental car and your own vehicle, rent a car similar to your auto.
  • Don’t Zoom Off Right Away, Get to Know the Car First
    Spend a few minutes getting acquainted with your rental car. Note the location of key control and switches. Make sure you know how they work before you’re in motion. Test the brakes—with the engine running—to get the “feel” of them. At the same time, get the “feel of the wheel” by testing the “play” in the steering wheel.
  • Check it Out
    Conduct a vehicle inspection “walk around.” Check to be sure the tires are properly inflated. Do the lights work on bright and dim? Test the turn signals, windshield wipers and horn.
  • Emergency and Safety Equipment
    Determine if there is a spare tire and a jack. Inquire about the availability of an emergency road kit if you’re interested in extra protection, or provide your own. If you need special equipment, such as chains for driving on ice or child restraint seats, be sure to ask for it before you leave.
  • Make Minor Adjustments
    Position the driver’s seat so that you feel comfortable and at ease behind the wheel. Be sure you are seated at least 10″-12″ from the steering wheel to allow airbags to inflate if necessary. Be sure the headrest is level with the top of your ears. Adjust the rearview and side view mirrors so that they’re in the right positions for you.
  • Getting the Hang of It
    Take the car for a simple trial run, especially before you head for the freeways or a crowded downtown area.

Be Prepared

Always be prepared to deal with a crash or other emergency situation while on the road. Review your insurance options when you sign out the car. Know what your personal insurance will cover, and use that information to determine what additional coverage, if any, you may need to purchase.

Also, be aware of the rental agency’s emergency road service provisions. If they have no specific road service available, inquire as to whom you can contact in the event of an emergency situation with the car.

Finally, remember your defensive driving training – it applies to all vehicles!