The price of gas may not be at a record high right now, but that doesn’t mean that filling up is cheap. In fact, recent polls show that many families across the United States are opting to rent vehicles that guzzle less gas than their family mobiles when embarking on long road trips. Renting a smaller vehicle may be an economical option, especially if you don’t want to add more wear and tear on your every day ride. However, if you are not careful your summer rental could put a major dent in your wallet.
USA Today just a published an in-depth report on how rental car companies are cracking down on careless drivers. Potential renters take note; those minor dings and scratches on the vehicle’s exterior that may have been overlooked in the past will cost you.
Enterprise, National and Alamo, which rack up more than 50 million rental transactions a year, say they often get stuck repairing tens of thousands of damaged vehicles. Damages range from dents and dings to windshield cracks and scratches.
The cost of those fixes have added up over the years and now rental companies are having their employees carefully examine all vehicles upon return and assessing charges for damages. In other words, be prepared to answer a slew of questions if rental car staff members spy so much as a little scratch on the vehicle you are returning.
One way to avoid being hit with unexpected damage fees is to purchase the rental company’s collision-damage waiver. By doing so, you won’t typically be billed for loss or damage to a rental vehicle, unless it was proven that you violated terms of the rental agreement. Keep in mind that even if the ding, dent or scratch wasn’t caused by a failure on your part, you are still responsible if the damage occurred during the rental period.
To avoid getting charged for damages you weren’t responsible for, it’s a good idea to note every scratch or dent on a vehicle before leaving the rental company’s lot, and then inspecting the car with a company employee upon return. If you see pre-existing damage that’s not noted on your contract, snap a photo of it with your smartphone and send a copy of the image to the rental company’s manager.