Hiring a car brings a multitude of risks, pitfalls and rip-offs which are often buried in the small print that you cannot avoid agreeing to if you wish to proceed. With that in mind, here are my top tips on what to look for when hiring a car.


Inspect the hire car before you set off

It may sound obvious, but the onus is on you to inspect the hire car thoroughly before you set off.

Note any damage (even very minor marks), take photos and point out any damage to the staff, if possible, before you leave.

Check the clutch is in good working order

This is something that is not so obvious.

Ensure that the clutch is in good working order, as car hire firms will charge you for a replacement even if you have only driven a few miles before it fails.

Check the fuel gauge

Check the fuel gauge before setting off and take a photo to evidence the approximate amount of fuel you were given.

Take a photo afterwards so you can dispute any refuelling charges afterwards.

Parking and speeding fines

If you are hit with any parking and speeding fines, ask for the evidence and robustly contest it.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 has a fairness test. Any terms and conditions that tilt the rights in favour of the trader are considered unfair.

There are various technicalities you can use to cancel parking tickets, bus lane infringements and speeding fines. Whilst I cannot condone blatant breaches, the law cuts both ways and it has to be applied fairly and properly.

You have a right to appeal so use it.

Use your credit card

Use your credit card to pay for car hire. You can hold the credit card provider jointly liable under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 for any charges that the car hire firm will not reimburse you if the total cost of the hire agreement is more than £100.

Excess Insurance

Search in advance for a standalone provider for excess insurance to beat ‘top-up’ insurance. Car hire firms sell these policies to remove your excess insurance which can be as much as £25 a day.

A standalone policy can be as little as £2 a day. These policies pay the car hire firm’s excess if you make a claim and then reclaim the money from the excess insurer.

Standalone excess policies also offer additional benefits such as damage to wheels and windscreens.

Motorists are seen as cash cows by greedy authorities which I have shone a spotlight on in the Dunfermline Press, the Southern Reporter in the Scottish Borders and the Edinburgh Evening News.

What are your experiences when hiring a car? Can you add anything to this?

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