Tips on hiring and driving a rental vehicle

Tips on hiring and driving a rental vehicle

Hiring a car, can often be a convenient way of traveling around a country, but can sometimes be confusing, especially with all the options, or if it is your first time. To make things easier, we have some helpful tips on hiring a vehicle and driving the new rental.


When hiring or renting a vehicle, you need to make sure you know what you are hiring, and what options are best for you, here are our tips on hiring a vehicle:

Consider the size (class) of the vehicle you need

When hiring a vehicle, the first step is understanding what size vehicle you require. They come in different sizes from a small 1ltr engine to 2ltr engine cars, but you can also hire saloons, SUV’s, estate cars, minibuses, and convertibles. Depending on what your requirements, will depend on the hire vehicle you rent, we would advise to hire something which is of a similar size to your own vehicle, this is so you are more at ease with driving the vehicle.

When booking the rental through their website, you’ll select the vehicle size that you require. We would like to stress with you, that you will be provide with a similar vehicle to the one you have selected, unless guaranteed otherwise. For example, if we are looking at renting an Audi A4, the rental company may not on the day provide us with an Audi A4, but could provide us with something which is similar class, such as a BMW 3 series.

Depending on which country you are hiring the vehicle from, will be dependent on it’s transmission. Take the UK as an example, we mainly drive manual transmission vehicles, yet compare this to vehicles in Sri Lanka, they are predominantly automatic transmissions. This is a big thing to look out for especially if you only have an automatic license, in the UK, you will only be able to hire an automatic car.

Are the additional options worth purchasing?

Different rental companies may offer different additional options, and all at different prices, we would suggest comparing rental companies for your requirements and budget. Here are just some of the additional options, and tips on if it is worth purchasing these additional options:

Collision Damage waiver

This is an important option to consider, because in an event of an accident, will all depend on how much of an excess you will pay. We are well experienced within the motor insurance industry; and we are fully aware of the importance of the excess.

Depending on the rental company, will often depend on the excess options. Most rental companies will have 3 excess options. The first one is included in the rental price, but the excess will be between £1000.00 – £1500.00 which is payable in the event of an accident, then you may get an excess of about £500.00 – £800.00 to pay in the event of an accident, and the last option is no excess to pay in the event of an accident. With these differing excess options, the price of the rental will differ.

Let’s look at them in turn.

With an excess of over £1000, could you afford to pay this in the event of an accident?? We know we certainly wouldn’t be able to pay something like this, and we certainly do not have this excess on our own policy, so why have this on a rental car. We would therefore advise to consider the next option, of reducing the excess amount.

It might be a good idea to think about the more reasonable excess amount, this will in turn mean paying a little more on the rental. This is definitely one of the more favorable options to choose, and one we would advise to think about. You may even find it is similar to your own excess you have on your own insurance policy; this therefore could be the better option for you. We would rather pay a little more on the rental and reduce the excess a bit, but this would again depend completely on you!

Lastly, the option to pay no excess, in the event of an accident. We would highly recommend choosing this option, you will have no excess to pay in the event of an accident, however, the rental will have increased somewhat but it certainly would work to be more financially beneficial to you.

What happens if you do not have an accident, you would have paid more money in the rental for nothing. However, we see this more so as a benefit than a loss, because you have that peace of mind, knowing that you wouldn’t have to pay anything as a result of a collision.We would agree that this is a very good additional extra to purchase on your rental, just by paying a small amount more on the rental and not having to pay the excess is a win, win situation.

Roadside Protection

This will cover you for roadside assistance, loss key, fuel service, and dead battery. As it says on the tin, you’ll be covered in the event of breakdown, loss of key etc., again this is a small fee to pay. The rental cars will be relatively new, kept in good condition, and well maintained, yet as a precaution you may feel it necessary to purchase this additional extra.


With the use of mobile phones having mobile data and google maps, then a satnav in a rental may not be a priority. However, what happens if you run out of data, or it may cost you more for using data overseas, therefore a satnav would be important, especially if you don’t know where you are going. This is another additional extra we would recommend purchasing, unless you want to revert back to using a good old-fashioned map. We purchase this as an additional option when we hired a vehicle, and was grateful for the use of it.

If you do happen to get a satnav with your rental, and you plan to use it, you must get used to setting the location. Some countries may not have post code/zip codes, like we get in the UK or the USA, so it is important to understand how to program in the next destination. This you must also do before setting of from the rental location.

How to set the satnav

Depending on the brand of satnav provided, and which country you are in, will depend on how you program in your destination.

Firstly, switch the satnav on and allow this to load, then select find address, and you will have the option to enter a post code (only applicable to countries with post codes), followed by selecting the road/street name, before entering the house number. If on the other hand you’re in a location where there are no post codes/zip codes, then enter a town/village that’s your destination (you may need to search through a list) make sure you select the correct location, before entering the street name, followed by the house number. The satnav will provide you with a route, for which you’ll follow.

Additional Driver

The additional Driver option allows more than one person to be able to drive the rental vehicle. This is a good option if you would like more than one person to drive the vehicle during the hire, however there is likely to be an additional fee on your rental per day for the additional driver. This is another additional extra you should consider adding to the rental as we did in Ireland.

Child car seat/booster seat/baby seat

This is an important additional extra, for one simple reason, to keep your children as safe as possible inside the vehicle. It also depends on what country you are renting the vehicle from; you may find that a child seat/booster seat/baby seat is a legal requirement when having children travel in your vehicle.

Returning the vehicle with an empty tank of fuel

Some rental companies will offer this additional option, which means you can return the rental vehicle with an empty tank of fuel, if you intend to take this additional extra up, you will have to pay for the privilege of returning the fuel tank empty. This would be financially beneficial to purchase this additional option, if you intend to use a full tank on your trip, and if the cost of the fuel’s expensive in that country.

If you don’t intend to use the entire tank of fuel, then don’t purchase this additional extra, but you must return the car with a full tank of fuel.
When we hired a car in Ireland, for our road trip, they offered this option to us, at a cost of 70 Euros, and realized we wouldn’t be using the entire tank, in fact at the end of our trip, we had only used half a tank. Therefore, the cost of refueling would not cost us 70 Euros, and for us it would not be financially beneficial to purchase this option.

The option is often only available to purchase at the beginning of the rental, (although some branches or rental companies could offer settlement at the end of the rental).

Is it financially beneficial?

As we mentioned above, what you need to consider is, will you be using the entire tank along with how much is the fuel. Each driver will be different, and it also depends on the types of roads you will be driving on, as to how much fuel consumption is used, therefore this can be more difficult to understand.


How convenient is it? Not having to worry about finding the petrol station near the airport to fill up with fuel, all you will need to ensure is that you have enough fuel to get you to the car rental drop off. This certainly is a convenient option, but does it outweigh the financial side? This is something only you can decide upon.

From our own personal experience and travelling on a budget, we feel that it isn’t financially beneficial. When we hired a Sixt vehicle in Ireland, we only used half a tank and to refuel would be less than 70 euros. If we had used all the fuel, and it would have cost us more than 70 Euros to refuel, then we would have purchased this. We do not believe this is value for money, or worth purchasing.

Offsite car park

Depending on the rental location, you may find the car park is not on site, for example, at an airport the car park will be offsite. Should this be the case, a shuttle bus will often be provided on a regular basis to transfer you from the reception to the car park to collect the vehicle. You must allow sufficient time between the rental car park and the terminal, to ensure you are on time for your flight.

When returning the rental vehicle, there will be plenty of signs to direct you back to the drop off point.

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