If you need a van, a truck or a larger car only occasionally, then vehicle-rental is a much better option than buying a large vehicle that you will not be using every day.
Contact your local vehicle-rental company if you need a small truck to clear up the yard or to move house. Specialist companies can hire you a limo or similar large auto if going on a long trip with the extended family.
They can also rent you a camper van or mobile home, and using the vehicle-rental service they offer means that you do not need to tie up all your cash in a depreciating asset, one that is worth less with every mile you drive it.
Choosing a vehicle-rental Company
Not all vehicle-rental companies are the same. The large national companies usually give good service, but their prices are not always the best. Smaller local operators may have only a few vehicles, smaller staffs and subsequently lower costs. These small companies are often very competitive in the local vehicle-rental market. There is a third group of companies, which offer a narrower range of vehicle-rentals, offering only trucks or only vans.
Contact a range of companies and make appointments to check out their rental vehicles. It is always a good idea to ask to see the particular model that a company is offering, it avoids disappointment when you pick it up and find it is not quite what you thought it was going to be.
Deciding What vehicle-rental You Need
It has to have the capacity to do the job, whether in terms of seats or load space, but avoid renting a larger vehicle than you need. Large autos and trucks cost more in fuel to run and are more awkward to drive. This is another reason you need to see the models on offer before you book your vehicle-rental
Do You Have the Right Licence?
A standard driving licence does not automatically cover you to drive every truck or limo available. Check on the phone at the planning stage.
On the Day
You will be offered the opportunity to check the vehicle over for scratches and damage. Remember to check the wheels, tires and windscreen. Check the edges of doors for chips where they have been opened against a wall.
The vehicle-rental company will offer you extra insurance. The basic insurance usually has a massive excess, so you may have to pay the first $1000 on any claim. The extra insurance normally reduces this excess to something manageable. It should cover damage to tires, including punctures, as well.
Ask what the fuel policy is. Some companies give you a full tank at the start and charge you if you bring it back less than full. Other companies just look at the fuel guage and tell you to bring it back with the same amount in. Other companies don't care.
Make sure that all the people who will be driving the vehicle-rental attend the office to pick it up. The company will need to check all your driving licences. You usually need a credit card as well, even if you are paying by cash. The vehicle-rental company will authorize your card for the insurance excess before you drive it away.
Many vehicle-rental companies will offer you an upgrade at a nominal cost. This applies more to auto rental than to more specialised vehicle-rentals. The company has a large number of small, economy models. If they have more bookings for these smaller vehicles than they have autos sitting outside they will offer to upgrade customers to a larger auto for a very small fee. If they have run out of small vehicles and that is what you have booked they will give you a larger auto without any extra charges.
If you are flying abroad you will probably be arranging your vehicle-rental requirements through the airline. Certainly you will be picking up a vehicle at the airport.
If your flight is delayed or diverted, phone the vehicle-rental company. Your car hire can usually be transferred to the airport you have been diverted to. It is usually better to hire from that airport, than to wait for a coach to take you back to the original arrival airport, by which time the auto rental companies will have closed.
Points to Remember with European vehicle-rentals
In England and Ireland they drive on the left. Vehicles' drivers sit on the right
In Europe a manual gear change is standard, if you want automatic transmission, you will pay a lot extra for it and you must have pre-booked an automatic vehicle-rental, because automatic transmission in Europe is a rarity.
Your driving licence must state that you are qualified to drive a manual transmission vehicle before you will be allowed to rent one.
Fuel costs are a lot higher than in the United States, approx $8 for a US gallon, so you might want to consider a smaller vehicle-rental to save costs.
Everything is available, at a price. Child seats are compulsory in most countries, and will set you back a hefty amount in extra rental charges.
Make sure you understand what fuel the car uses. Diesel vehicles are very common in Europe because they are much more economical than the petrol (gas) powered equivalent.
Satellite navigation systems can be hired, at a price. If you use your own, make sure you have the latest download for the countries you are visiting. In Ireland satellite navigation systems are a waste of time and money, because the software is updated so infrequently. Roads that were built 10 years ago are not on most sat-nav system.
Roof boxes can be hired, if you have underestimated your space requirements as an alternative to hiring a larger vehicle, but they will impact adversely on your fuel consumption.
If you find the vehicle is too small when you see it, the vehicle-rental company will be only too happy to give you a bigger one, and charge you appropriately.