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12 Sure Signs You’re Falling for a Bad Car Rental

Nothing can torpedo a vacation like a bad car rental experience. Here are a dozen red flags that you're falling for a bad car rental.

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Gas pump nozzle in the fuel tank of a bronze car.Photo: Tonographer/Shutterstock

You are being pressured into prepaying for gas

There are rare instances in which prepaying an entire tank of gas is beneficial (if your return flight is at 4 a.m., for example), but generally, you need to hold firm and decline the expensive prepaid fueling option when renting a car. There are always gas stations near airports, so fill up at a reasonable price and then return your rental car. You should also try these six tricks to save on gas.

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luxury car wheel close-upPhoto: Kuznechik/Shutterstock

A toll road transponder costs you—whether you use it or not


It can be convenient to have a toll road transponder in your car and skip the toll booths on the highway, but double check to make sure you aren’t paying for that convenience daily. Patrick Quinn, the creator of the viral Cheerio Challenge for Life of Dad, was once hit with roughly $200 in rental car charges for using the transponder to pay for approximately $8 in tolls!

Looking for travel inspiration? This is the best country in the world for a road trip.

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Close-up Of A Black African American Man Hands Holding Steering Wheel While Driving Car. Detail of a hand holding a steering wheel.Photo: Red Confidential/Shutterstock

The car isn’t even close to being new


Some of the smaller companies rent “hand me down” vehicles, meaning not only will they not still have that new car smell, those rental cars may be well-worn, less pleasant to drive, have outdated (or no) GPS equipment, and lack modern conveniences like USB ports, power windows, and Bluetooth connectivity. The price may be cheaper, but you are getting what you pay for! Check out these new car features you didn’t realize you needed.

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Modern car illuminated dashboard and steering wheelPhoto: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

The steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car


Dad blogger Brian Craig of A Dad Influence had a strange car rental experience last year in the Cayman Islands. Locals drive on the right side of the road (same as the United States), but some of the cars being rented were designed for left side driving (like England). Steering on the left plus driving on the right equals a very bad car rental experience! Here’s the real reason Brits and North Americans drive on different sides of the road.

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Woman driving her carPhoto: Minerva Studio/Shutterstock

There’s a surcharge for being young


Avoid car rental companies that charge you extra for being under 25. There’s enough rental car competition out there to shop around for a fair rate as a young traveller.

No matter what your age, this is the most dangerous day of the week to drive in Canada.

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Speedometer - soft focusPhoto: Sarach Naetimaetee/Shutterstock

Unlimited miles are not included


Every car rental should offer unlimited miles nowadays. If you see a mileage limit when booking your rental car, that’s an easy-to-spot red flag that you are getting a bad car rental deal. Consider other rental car options instead—and make sure you don’t end up renting the least reliable car in the industry.

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airport couple suitcases travelPhoto: Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

The airport car rental location is not at the airport


At some airports, all the rental car companies are located off-site: However, proceed with caution if the big boys like Hertz and Avis are at the airport, but your company is somewhere else. It is possible that the companies that can’t get a spot at the airport aren’t as reliable or on the level when it comes to hidden fees. Made it to your lodgings? Here are the red flags you’re about to stay at a bad hotel.

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MoneyPhoto: Champion studio/Shutterstock

There are extra fees for things you don’t recognize


Believe it or not, you may save money by taking a Lyft or Uber to a Hertz location in town: The Hertz at the airport may add on extra taxes and fees like an airport concession charge (whatever that is). Here are 16 more airport mistakes to avoid on your next vacation.

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Close-up Of A Mature Mechanic Maintaining Car RecordsPhoto: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

There is no vehicle inspection report


When you arrive at the car rental desk to pick up your car, you should either be walked around the car to inspect it with a car rental representative or be provided with a report to look over when you arrive at the car in the parking lot. If not, ask for one—not having this report is a massive red flag you’re falling for a bad car rental! You do not want to pay for the bumps and scratches caused by the last driver. Instead, look for ways to upgrade your vacation with these credit card travel perks.

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Midsection of male client giving car key to mechanic in auto repair shopPhoto: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

You are asked to pay your deductible at the time of return


If you return your rental car with some damage, some rental car companies will insist that you pay your deductible before they file the claim. Verify that this will not be the case before you sign the rental agreement. You should not have to pay a deductible before the claim is filed, the damage inspection is complete, and the repair estimate has been received.

Got in a fender bender? Here are the 15 things you must do within 10 minutes of having a car accident.

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South Afircan mechanic bust working with a racthed spanner inside of a car.Photo: Nolte Lourens/Shutterstock

There’s an extra fee for the car being out of service if there is damage


You should not have to pay an extra fee for the rental car being out of service for repairs due to damage that occurred while you were driving the rental car. This could be a trick to milk you out of a lot of money long after you’ve returned home.

These driving tips could safe your life (and some money, too).

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car key on dollar billsPhoto: RomanR/Shutterstock

The price is too good


As with anything in life, if the rental car deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. When you see an unusually low price for a rental car, check to see if your mileage is capped, if the car is old, if airport fees have not yet been added into the total, or if any “surprise” additional charges will be tacked onto the price when you return the car. Next, find out how to save on your next car rental.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest