Rental cars have proven to be very useful over the years. They come in handy when your car breaks down and you take it to the repair shop or need a car to get around on trips far away from home.
Rental cars are usually neat, efficient, comfortable and deliver a smooth ride. However, are they always reliable? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
Here’s the short answer to whether rental cars are reliable:
Most rental cars are reliable because the owners perform regular recommended maintenance to ensure that customers have a good driving experience and get value for their money. However, it’s advisable to check customer reviews before choosing a rental car service to know whether they offer reliable vehicles.
What Is the General Condition of Rental Cars?
Rental cars usually have low mileages on them. Typically below 50,000 miles. Some car rental companies even stop using their cars at about 30,000 miles.
This is because top companies take old vehicles out of their lineup at specific miles. However, the good news is that the cars aren’t usually really old. They’re just cars with fairly high mileages.
Therefore, a 3-year-old car may be too old to be used as a rental car. Such procedures ensure that rental cars always look new.
The rental companies may sell them for a small profit since they usually buy cars at cheaper rates.
Besides the frequency with which they’re replaced, rental cars are well maintained. Starting with regular maintenance, they undergo frequent oil changes, tranny fluid change, and power steering fluid change, etcetera.
Rental companies inspect their cars almost too frequently. This is because they must know the condition of their cars before and after it is rented to any customer. Hence, rental cars are usually free of cracks, dents and even scratches.
However, you might find minor scratches and dents that occur because of wear and tear. Other than that, rental cars remain in exceptional conditions.
They also wash their cars and clean the interior regularly. They do this to make their cars presentable to renters. Thus, you don’t have to worry about a rental car looking unkempt.
Can You Trust Cheap Car Rental Companies to Have Reliable Cars?
While people trust the average rental company to have reliable cars, we can’t say the same for cheap rental companies. Cheap rental companies can provide drivers with affordable options because of their lower standards.
They spend less on car purchases, use their cars for longer periods and conduct maintenance less frequently. However, they might still inspect their cars religiously.
Thus, it is possible to find cars with over 50,000 miles in cheap car rentals. That’s how they’re able to cut costs and provide customers with more affordable prices.
However, we can’t write them off just because they hold on to cars a little longer. Such practices don’t mean their vehicles break down frequently.
Still, it doesn’t make them reliable either. Before renting a car from a cheap car rental, find out more about the company and check for reviews online.
This way, you’ll be able to tell from other customers’ experience whether they’re a good choice. If you get negative reviews, it may be best to just stick to a standard car rental company.
What Happens If a Rental Car Breaks Down?
If the car breaks down while you’re still on the premises, they’ll easily replace it for you. It may require a little documentation which will involve you signing some papers. Ensure this is done. If not, they could use it against you later on.
Make sure it’s clear that you weren’t the cause of the breakdown. Once that’s settled, you can be on your way.
Most times, they’d even replace the car for you if you simply ask. There need not be a special reason. You can simply not like the look and feel of the car.
Your car might get damaged after you’ve already put some miles between you and the car rental. In this scenario, the rental company will come to your aid and repair it on the spot.
If it’s a major breakdown (which is unlikely), they’ll tow it away and send you a replacement car. The rental company takes this step when they can’t easily fix the car. However, this might take quite some time for them to pull off since car rentals don’t exactly have branches everywhere.
This also applies to flat tires or whatever immobilizes your vehicle. The car rental company will dispatch their roadside assistance as quickly as they can. However, note that you’re obligated to contact the rental company immediately after the car breaks down.
Delay may or may not cause further complications. This means they may interrogate you for suspicious activity and assume you’re guilty of mishandling the car.
If they discover the breakdown is your fault is some way, they may not be inclined to cover the costs. They may even charge you extra for causing damage to the vehicle.
Also, ensure that the problem is one that requires expert attention before calling the rental company.
Check the car battery to be sure that the terminals are properly connected and have no rust on them. Make sure that it’s not because you’re running low on gas. Calling the company will cost you money in fines because you’re not expected to allow the tank to go empty.
However, even though the rental company covers for minor problems such as flat tires, you can handle it yourself. They’d no doubt appreciate the gesture. Just make sure you inform them you changed a flat tire at the end of the contract.
Sometimes, though, it’s better to call the company if you’re unsure of how to inspect these things. This is to avoid accidental damage to sensitive components.
Are Rental Cars Typically Reliable for Cross-Country Travel?
We’ve already discussed rental car reliability. Major car rental companies only have reliable cars to begin with. If cars are reliable for intrastate commute, they should perform pretty well on cross-country trips.
Hence, as long as you use a trusted and tested car rental company, you wouldn’t have a problem. With that out of the way, the question is whether you should use a rental car for cross-country travel or stick to your own car?
Is a Rental Car Better Than My Personal Car for Cross-Country Travel?
Factoring the high costs of renting a car from a reputable company, it seems best to use your personal car. This would eliminate the fear of wrecking a rental car. It’ll also enable you to drive in a familiar vehicle.
It also helps you skip all the paperwork and inspection upon checking in and checking out.
However, not everyone agrees that a personal vehicle is best for cross-country travel. Some drivers prefer personal vehicles for driving in the city where the traffic is intense.
Such drivers believe rental cars are best for cross-country trips. They mostly attribute this view to the wear and tear that’ll be inflicted on any car during such a trip.
Rental cars are usually in best conditions and are mostly new in both age and mileage. Thus, they’re better able to handle such strain.
We’ll let you decide what the best choice is for you.
3 Rental Car Companies With the Most Reliable Cars
You should know that it’s difficult to find a car rental company that satisfies all variables. More often, if a rental company has very reliable cars, they may have rigorous protocols. In other cases, if they have easy protocols and affordable prices, their cars may break down occasionally.
Here’re three of the most reliable rental car companies:
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car: Many regard them as the best car rental company in the United States. It costs about $50 per day to rent a car from them, give or take a few dollars. They have been in the business for decades and have a reputation to uphold. The company has one of the most reliable cars in the industry.
- Avis: It is one of the largest car rental companies not just in the United States, but globally. Their cars are also less likely to develop faults because of their policies and maintenance schedules. It’s safe to say Avis’ cars are among the most reliable in the business.
- Hertz: Consumers often credit them with having excellent services. Hertz is also listed among the premium car rental companies in the world. This makes their cars one of the most reliable in the business.
It doesn’t matter how long you plan to rent the car for. One of the most important steps is reading and understanding all the details of the rental agreement.
The rental agreement is the terms and conditions of your contract. This will usually contain the dos and don’ts of the contract. It is imperative that you understand the terms in the agreement before proceeding with renting the car.
If there are things in the contract that you don’t understand, ensure you ask the customer care representative for clarity. If you’re still not convinced, you can do a web search on the topic in question.
Also, while renting a car, keep all receipts for any and every cost you incur. From the payment for renting the car to the most minute service. These records may come in handy in the long run.