≡ Menu

Five Things to Do Before You Put Your Rental Car in Drive

When traveling you will probably rent cars from time to time. This guide will help you avoid any mishaps.

Woman driving car

There’s no doubt that a rental car is one of the best ways to get around when you’re on vacation. It’s especially convenient if you’re traveling with other passengers. However, renting a car can cause a few problems if you aren’t careful.

Not only do you want to avoid penalties from the rental company when you drop the car off at the end of your vacation, but you also want to avoid an accident. They are expensive, costing people over $445 billion each year, but an accident can also cut your vacation short and leave you with medical challenges for weeks, months, and even years to come.

You can decrease your chances of experiencing an accident if you take the time to get to know your rental car before you drive out of the parking lot.

Inspect the Car

Before you do anything else, you should inspect the exterior of your car. In some cases, a member of the rental company will come outside with you and look over the vehicle while you’re present, but you should also inspect the car after they leave.

Any existing damages should be documented so that you aren’t accidentally charged for a ding, dent, or scratch that you didn’t create. Small scratches are easy to miss, which is why you should look over the car one more time without someone else looking over your shoulder. If you find something, you can notify them before you drive off the lot so you aren’t charged later.

Glance for a Gas Station

It’s still not time to get in the vehicle! Before you get into the front seat, glance around and see if you can find a gas station.

Rental car companies require that you return the vehicle with a full tank, which means stopping by a gas station near where you will be dropping off the car. If you are unable to see a gas station that’s close, ask the rental car representative where you can find the closest gas station. That way you aren’t scrambling around at the last second looking for gas.

Get Familiar With Interior Controls

When you enter the car, the very first thing you should do is get familiar with the controls. Not only should you locate important controls that you will need when you’re driving, you should also try each of the controls so you know exactly how to push, pull, or twist in order to activate the control you need.

Just some of the controls you will want to look for inside the rental car include:

  • Headlights
  • Windshield wipers
  • Radio controls
  • Temperature controls
  • Cruise control
  • Interior lights

You should also get familiar with displays and indicator lights. Don’t be afraid to ask the rental car associate if there’s an owner’s manual you can look at, or if they can show you where to find everything before you put the car in drive.

Make Adjustments

You should also look for seat adjustments, and when you find them, you should adjust your seat. There’s a lot of information out there on the perfect driving position, but at the end of the day, the perfect driving position is one that is comfortable for you. Raise or lower the seat, push it forward or back, and adjust the head rest.

It’s important to make safety adjustments too. Adjust the rearview mirror and side mirrors so you can see clearly.

Make Sure Everyone Else Is Comfortable

Not only is it important to make sure you are comfortable, but it is also important to make sure everyone else in the car is comfortable. That’s especially the case if you have kids. You don’t want to have to pull over multiple times to pick up garbage or hand out snacks!

A few ways to keep the car tidy and keep your passengers happy include using seat organizers to hold snacks, books, and other items, keep a bag in the front and back for garbage, and get everyone set up with a drink. It’s also a good idea to get devices up and running so you aren’t pulling over right away because a game or movie won’t start on a tablet.

A rental car can make getting around on vacation a lot more convenient. Just make sure it doesn’t end up being an inconvenience because you get into an accident or a fender bender. These tips will help you return the rental car in the same condition you received it.

Filed under: Travel Guide

About the Author:

has written 485 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

1 comment… add one

Leave a Comment

  • DaNuck January 21, 2021, 1:35 pm

    All good advice, and one more bit of good advice is check your Credit Card co. to see IF they cover your vehicle rental insurance. My Chase Sapphire card does, but requires them to send you the paperwork BEFORE you travel. Saved me a bunch of money when I rented a car for 3 weeks.

    Link Reply