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Man checks his hire car for damage

Why you need to check your rental car for damage

One of the important things you should do before accepting your hire car is to check it thoroughly for pre-existing damage. Read on to find out why.

When you collect your rental car, you will be provided with a Vehicle Condition Report which should detail any pre-existing damage to the vehicle. It is important when you collect your rental car that you check what is on the report against what you can see on the car. If you find any damage not listed on the report, you need to inform the car rental representative so it can be added. As a backup, many customers also take photos of the vehicle in its current condition before they leave the depot.

If the vehicle is damaged or stolen while it is in your possession — or you return the vehicle with damage that is not marked on the report — you are responsible, regardless of whether you were at fault for the damage.

When you pick up the vehicle

  • Make sure you check the wheel alloys for scratches, as this is a common form of damage.

  • Examine the windscreen and windows to make sure there are no large chips or cracks.

  • Look at the vehicle from a few different angles to make sure there are no visible dents.

  • Smaller damage like tiny chips and light scratches will often be considered wear and tear. You will not be charged anything for damage of this kind.

If you take the vehicle to any prohibited areas, or use the vehicle in a way that does not adhere to the terms and conditions of your rental agreement, it will void any insurance products you have purchased, meaning you will be liable to pay the full excess amount.

When you return the vehicle

When you return the vehicle, the car rental company representative will check the vehicle for any new damage. If anything extra is found, you will be provided with a copy of the Vehicle Condition Report noting the damage that has been found and you will have to pay any estimated damage charges. If the actual cost of the damage repairs turns out to be less than what you were charged, you will be refunded the difference. If the damage is significant it may need to be assessed by a third party.

If you are not present for the inspection, you will receive notification from the car rental company informing you of the damage that was found, with images to support the claim. Your credit card will be charged for the cost of repairs.

For example

Scratches are found on David’s car

David returns his rental car to the depot. When he picked up his car, he did not find any additional damage. The car rental company representative finds scratches on the side of the vehicle, that are deemed to be more than just wear and tear. David is charged $200 for the estimated damage repair costs. A couple of weeks later, the car rental company informs him that the repairs only cost $120 and he is refunded the difference.