Whether for business or pleasure, you require a rental car and reserve one that meets your needs. You attend the rental company, complete the paperwork to rent the car, get in the car, and go to drive off in a hurry to reach your destination.
But not so fast. While rental car companies are usually diligent about attending to their fleet and making sure cars are in the best possible conditions, cars can be unpredictable at times. Below are 4 things to check on the car rental before you drive it off the lot. They could be the difference between reaching your destination safely and on time or being stranded until you require assistance.
Damage to a vehicle can easily be missed on cars due to being in obscure areas. Take a walk around the vehicle you rented and check for scratches and dents. Also look at the bumper for cracks as they tend to break easily in a collision. Pay close attention to cracks or chips in the windshield that could become bigger while the car is in your possession. Any damages on the vehicle should be acknowledged by the company before you leave with it. You could be held responsible for any undocumented damage to the vehicle once you leave the lot.
The tires on the vehicle you rent need to be properly inspected to ensure they are in good shape and will be safe for you to drive on. Confirm that the tires are inflated enough and request that more air is added to them if needed. If underinflated tires are used for extended periods of time they will become overheated and could lead to blowouts, putting you in serious danger especially if driving on busy highways. Also be cautious of uneven tread wear on the tires. This could indicate an alignment or suspension issue with the vehicle.
To confirm that tires have adequate tread, check the tread indicators of the tire if they have them and ask for another vehicle if the indicators are worn. If the tires do not have indicators, take a 2-dollar coin and place it into the tread. A tread that reaches the paws of the bear on the coin is adequate. If the tread only reaches the lettering on the coin, the tires are completely worn and you should request a new vehicle.
It is always assumed that the lights on the vehicle will work on any vehicle that you rent but the truth is, light bulbs can go out at any time with little to no notice and could even stop working between when the rental company inspected it and when you take it off the lot.
Before you leave with the car, get a person that is accompanying you or someone in the car lot to check the lights from the outside while you are turning them on. Check the headlights, taillights, signal indicators, and brake lights. Whether these lights work or not could definitely be the difference between a smooth commute and a nightmare trip full of issues.
Fluids are normally checked by a rental car company before it leaves a lot to ensure they are all topped off, but this task could be overlooked or a leak may be present that impacts levels between inspection and your departure with the vehicle.
Check the oil, antifreeze, and washer fluid. If low, these levels can be quickly and easily topped up by the rental company before you depart the lot. Also important are brake, power steering, and transmission fluids. The levels of these types of fluids rarely go down and may be problematic of bigger issues with the vehicle and as a result you may want to request another vehicle.