The Safe Way to Rent a Car

When you rent a vehicle, it’s important to give it a quick safety check before you leave the rental agency parking lot. Just a few minutes can potentially save you a major headache down the road. Here’s a list of a few important items to look for:

  • Go over the basics. Inspect your vehicle’s tires and test the brakes, horn, and windshield wipers. Check the gas gauge. Does the steering feel wobbly? Can you handle the vehicle comfortably? If something doesn’t meet your approval, ask for another car.
  • Make adjustments. Check and adjust mirrors, lights, headrests, and even the radio before leaving the lot. Making these adjustments while navigating unfamiliar roads can be dangerous.
  • Check for room between your chest and the steering wheel. The minimum recommendation is 10 inches. This distance gives enough room for the airbag to deploy.
  • Document existing damage. Mark any existing damage on your rental agreement. Be sure to walk around the vehicle and notify the rental company of any scratches or dings on the vehicle before you leave the lot.
  • Decide on rental insurance in advance. Check your current auto policy to verify whether and how much of your coverage for liability, comprehensive, and collision is extended to your rental vehicle – and whether it’s only in the U.S.; be sure you know what your policy says. If your policy includes both comprehensive and collision, consider declining those options from the rental company. Note that you are still liable for paying your deductible in an accident or loss with a rental vehicle—so if that’s a concern, consider purchasing the rental company’s collision damage waiver.

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