• Questions to Ask Before Renting a Car

Questions to Ask Before Renting a Car

Find out what you need to know before hiring a car in the UK

We understand that when you hire a car, you’ll no doubt have an abundance of questions you want answered. Well, fear not! Here at Rent Direct, we are to help by informing you of what questions you should ask before renting a car.

The top 10 questions you need to ask before renting a car 

Whether it’s a question about what insurance is included in your rental agreement, to a query about where you should park the car when you return it, then you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out the top 10 questions you need to ask the rental company before you hire a car… 

What is the total cost of the car rental?

This might sound like the most obvious question you could ask, but trust us, it’s worth getting absolute clarity when it comes to the total cost of renting a car. Always check that the advertised price is the actual price you’ll pay for the duration of the hire period. 

For example, there may be an additional surcharge for a young driver, or an increased payment if you wish to add a driver. Take a look at our blog about who can hire a vehicle in the UK to find out more about young driver and senior driver vehicle hire. 

What insurance is already included in my car rental agreement?

This is a really important question to ask your car rental company, as not all agreements automatically include the insurances you may need as the driver of a hire vehicle. While a basic form of motor insurance is usually included as standard, there are insurance excesses which come at the cost to the hirer. 

For example, car hire excess insurance is designed to protect you as the driver of a rental vehicle from unexpected costs, such as vehicle repair if it’s damaged. We explain everything you need to know about rental car excess insurance in our ‘what is car hire excess insurance?’ article.

Don’t forget to check what your insurance excess amount is (this is the amount you’ll have to pay if you claim against the insurance) as you may be able to reduce this for a one-off fee.      

Is there a daily mileage limit?

Always ask what the daily mileage limit is on a rental car before you sign on the dotted line. If there isn’t a strict daily limit, it may be that the amount of miles you can drive is limited throughout the entire duration of the hire period instead.

While unlimited mileage would be favourable to you as the hiring party, it is unlikely this will be available. Be aware that going over the agreed mileage limit means you will have to pay extra costs when you return the vehicle.    

What should I do if my rental car breaks down?

As with any vehicle, unexpected breakdowns can happen at any time. So that you’re not left stranded, always make a note of who you need to contact if your car breaks down during the rental period and ask for an out of hours contact number too. 

If you experience a problem with your car at any time during your hire, contact the rental company straightaway. They will arrange for the vehicle to be fixed at the roadside or failing that, be recovered and towed back to the branch.   

What are the damage charges if I have an accident?

Whether or not it’s your fault, if you have an accident in your hire car, you will be liable as the driver. However, taking out car hire excess insurance will ensure you only pay the insurance excess and not the total cost of the damage caused to the car. 

Always check with the vehicle rental company if there are any other damage charges you may need to pay, before you hire a car.    

Can I take the rental car into another country?

This is a question you may not think to ask, but is absolutely an important one to check before you hire a car. Chances are that you won’t be able to drive the car you’ve rented out of the country - that’s certainly the case here at Rent Direct. 

Driving a hire car into another country will most likely breach the terms of your contract and could lead to the vehicle being labelled as stolen.   

Does the car need to be returned with a full tank of fuel?

Always check what is expected of you as the driver in terms of fuel policy. Like ourselves, many car rental companies will supply the vehicle with a full tank of fuel at the start of your hire period. As such, you will be expected to return the car with a full tank of fuel at the end of your agreement - if not, you will be charged a rate in excess of the pump price plus admin charges at the discretion of the rental company. 

In this case, it’s worth asking where the nearest petrol station is to the rental branch so you can top up just before you hand the car back. And don’t forget to check whether the car should be filled with petrol or diesel - as that will be a pricey mistake to make!

Where should I park the car when I return it?

Another good question to ask is where you should park the hire car when you return it. It may be that there isn’t a particular place to leave the car, but it’s always worth checking just to be sure.  

What should I do if I can’t return the car in time?

Communication is key when it comes to this particular question. If you are simply running late on your way back to return the hire car (it may be that you’re stuck in traffic) then it’s best to phone ahead and let the rental company know you’re delayed.

Bear in mind that if you surpass the time agreed to return the car by a number of hours, you will likely be charged at an additional day rate for that vehicle.    

Will there be any extra charges to pay when I hand the car back?

This is a handy question to ask so you are aware of any extra charges you hadn’t considered. Chances are that any extra charges will be due to late return, the fuel policy not being met, or going over the mileage allowance, but it’s always worth checking nonetheless.    

Rental car essential checklist

We’ve put together an essential checklist so you’re rental car ready! How many do you need to tick off the list?

  • Choose a car that suits your needs and caters for the number of people that may be travelling with you
  • Plan the trips you’ll be taking during your car hire period so that you can remain within the agreed mileage allowance
  • Gather the documents required to hire a car (driving licence, requested forms of identification)
  • Pre-empt the extra insurances you may need to take out as part of your car hire package  
  • Check and double check the car’s exterior for any dents or scratches to the bodywork, bumpers or wheels (we recommend you take pictures if you find any issues)
  • Familiarise yourself with the car you’ve chosen as it may differ from slightly from what you’re used to (ask if you’re unsure about anything)
  • Make sure you know whether the car is fuelled by petrol or diesel
  • Always stick to the rules of the road as a speeding ticket or parking fine will end up being passed back to you as the driver
  • Consider how much time you’ll need to get back to the car rental company so you don’t risk a late return fine
  • Last but by no means least, plan how you’ll get to and from the car rental company and identify the nearest forms of public transport

For a full run-down of how you can enjoy a smoother ride with your rental car, read our ultimate vehicle hire guide which will talk you through pre-hire pointers, collection checks and drop-off must do’s. And don’t forget to check our hiring criteria page so you know what to expect when you hire a rental car from us. 

Direct car rental you can rely on

No matter what your plans, you can rely on us for short or long term car hire at your convenience. A leading provider of rental vehicles in East Anglia, you’ll find a Rent Direct branch in six locations across the region where our helpful and friendly team will be waiting to assist you.

Whether you need a small city car, a mid-size motor or an SUV-style vehicle for the whole family, we have the ideal model for you. Head over to the car hire page on our website to explore our car fleet, car hire categories, and the criteria you need to meet in order to hire a car from us. 

Secure your car hire now using the online booking system on our homepage where you can choose the pick-up location, date and time, as well as the drop-off date and time too.