When you rent a car for your trip to Europe, it's shiny, new to you, and probably in better condition than the car that you drive every day back home. You want it to be one of the things you enjoy about your trip, but you also want to be sure that you take it back to the rental company in excellent condition.
By following these tips for maintaining your European rental car during the duration of your contract, you'll find that you're able to rest and relax while still keeping your car neat and clean.
1. Be Aware Of Your Kids' Eating Habits (And Your Own)
If your kids are older and typically don't spill when they eat in the car, it's probably safe to have a snack while you're traveling to your next destination. On the other hand, if your kids make a huge mess any time they eat in the car, take the time to pull over and enjoy your snack before continuing to your destination. It will be worth the time you don't have to spend cleaning it up later!
The same is true of your own eating: if you're prone to knocking entire containers of snacks across the car with one swipe or often leave a trail of crumbs behind you, it might be best to exit the rental car before indulging.
2. Be Aware Of Where You Park
When you're in your own vehicle, depending on its condition, you might not worry about things like vehicles that are parked too close to the line or a parking space that's a little bit too small for your car. In a rental, however, you need to be more careful! Make sure that the car is parked where it will be protected from other drivers' lack of caution.
3. Be Aware Of The Driving Culture
If you aren't from Europe, some of the driving practices may surprise you! Take a moment to discuss them when you pick up your rental car so that you aren't shocked when you get out on the road.
It may also help to take a few minutes to drive around a parking lot or less-traveled area when you first rent the car. This will help you become accustomed to driving on the opposite side of the road, any quirks in the car, and some of the local practices.
Keep in mind that many European car rental agencies may provide primarily manual transmissions, so you'll need to make sure your driving practices are up to the task.
4. Don't Be Afraid To Drive A Diesel
They're no longer the loud, smelly vehicles that you remember, and the fuel is cheaper across Europe. You don't have to worry about finding a place to gas up: diesel fuel is available at every service station you'll visit. Since it's less expensive, you won't have to stress as much over the higher gas prices experienced by most European countries.
5. Ask About Policies Concerning Smoking And Pets Before You Drive
Many companies will allow both, but only if you're willing to pay for it up front. Be familiar with your rental company's policies so that you aren't blindsided by additional fees when you bring the car back. This also factors into the question of keeping the car clean, as damage from cigarette burns or messes from pet fur or accidents aren’t exactly pleasant to deal with.
6. Know What Is Expected During Your Rental And Upon Return
Be aware of your responsibilities during your rental. Make sure your vehicle goes in for scheduled maintenance such as an oil change, which varies by car and can be found in the vehicle service manual.
On average, most vehicles are scheduled for routine maintenance every 20K miles - and doing so in the very beginning stages of the vehicles life is most important for breaking the car in.
To avoid additional charges, get your rental car washed and clear it of any trash upon its return. Bring it back in the condition that you received it. Renting a car for your travels through Europe can help make the experience more carefree and enjoyable. Since you aren't reliant on public transportation, you'll be able to view places at your leisure--no need to rush away to make sure that you're on time. Maintaining that rental, however, is an important part of the experience.
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