Everyone is after a good deal when it comes to holidays; whether that’s cheap flights, cheap souvenirs or even cheap car hire. We all love a good bargain. But what if that bargain compromises on your safety? Would you think again?
When it comes to cheap flights and package holidays the opportunity of such a great deal needs to be grabbed with both hands as you have little time before they disappear. Cheap car hire on the other hand is a whole different ball game.
For the most part, flights are looking for bums on seats and will lower/increase their prices according to how fast they’re selling out. But a cheap deal on car hire will usually be reflective of the company and this is when you need to start asking the question, why is it so cheap?
Before booking the cheapest quote, invest some time in a spot of quality research to find a company that offers it all – a suitable price, a decent range of vehicles and a good package deal including additional drivers. Independent customer reviews are a good start such as those found on TripAdvisor and travel forums, offering you a general idea on the care and maintenance of vehicles and whether issues are dealt with in a satisfactory manner.
But overall our main concern is your safety. According to statistics, around 1 in 4 car hire companies in the Mediterranean fail to provide customers with a sufficient emergency pack to meet the country’s legal requirements; such as reflective jacket and warning triangle. They also performed poorly in supplying the driver with a car manual for basic information on items such as tyre pressure and jacking points. It is worth noting, however, the national companies performed better in this than the local firms.
Unlike the UK, countries such as the US don’t have the equivalent of an annual MOT, where a vehicle will be checked to see if it’s roadworthy. So, as you can imagine this can bring with it a handful of issues.
It’s therefore essential that when you’re handed over the keys to your hire car, you do a few simple checks. Firstly check around for any bumps, knocks and scratches and point these out to the hire car company to avoid any blames upon its return. Next inspect the seatbelts and lights to ensure they’re working.
But our main concern rests with the tyres. Although you’ll find many European countries are in line with the UK at a legal minimum tyre tread requirement of 1.6mm, being close to this limit will ultimately affect the handling and braking distance of the vehicle. You’ll already have enough on your plate trying to get used to driving on the opposite side of the road, nevermind losing control of the vehicle. Watch our video on how to check your tyre tread simply and speedily so you’re fully aware of the state of the tyres you’re about to drive on.
TyresOnTheDrive Top Tips To Lower Your Car Hire Quote
We realise that we’ve now probably upped your spend on car hire, so here’s a few top tips in an attempt to bring down that premium cost:
- Rental Insurance – Many holiday makers often make the mistake of purchasing additional car insurance when booking car hire. Buts did you know that most credit cards will actually cover you for any collisions when purchasing the car hire on your credit card? Also, it’s worth a quick call to your car insurance provider as your policy may also include rental cover.
- Fuel – Most car rental companies will expect you to return the car with a full tank of fuel, and failure to do so will result in a surcharge for not only the petrol but also a fee for the hassle. Therefore ALWAYS make sure you return it as you found, avoiding any petrol stations on the motorways and even those near the car rental companies as they tend to be higher than those found in local towns and side roads.
- Alternative drop-offs – If you’re travelling from city to city or country to country and planning on dropping off the rental car at a different location, it may actually be more cost effective to consider taking the train. The fees for an alternative drop-off are extortionate.
- Hidden Costs – Just as you would take into consideration the cost of voluntary excess when purchasing car insurance, the same also applies for your car hire. You’ll usually find the cheaper the car hire, the higher the excess.
- Free upgrade – Are you feeling lucky? Although you’ll be eager to set off once landing in the airport, it’s worth letting the stampede of holidaymakers hurry along to the car rental desk. Why? Because once they run out of their standard vehicles, you’ll be instantly upgraded to a premium vehicle at no extra cost.
Nobody likes to be caught out on holiday, and the feeling of being ripped off isn’t exactly a pleasant one. If you’ve found a great car hire dealership that not only offers a generous amount of vehicles to choose from but ultimately offers brilliant value for money, please share below.