Renting a Car
Hiring a car in Ireland or on holidays can be a great way to travel around this or another country without having to buy a car. You may also need to hire a van or a larger vehicle so that you can transport large items. Normally consumers have no problems renting vehicles but there are ways to minimise any risk of car hire problems.
When you rent a car a contract is created between you and the car rental company. Read the car hire contract and ask about anything that you don’t understand. Make sure that you understand the Terms and Conditions before you accept the contract. If you are booking a rented car on-line often the Terms and Conditions can be contained under other headings such as Frequently Asked Questions or Requirements. Be clear what your obligations are under the contract covering vehicle rental.
If you are renting a vehicle on-line or by telephone a ‘distance contract’ is created that deals with the provision of transport services. Normally when you buy a product or a service on-line you have a 7 day period to change your mind about the deal. There are exceptions to this and the provision of transport services such as issuing of airline tickets is one. When you rent a vehicle on-line you do not have a 7-day period in which to change your mind about any booking that you have made.
If you are under 25 or over 70 years of age check that you will be able to rent a car as age limits apply in the case of car rental. Most countries, especially other EU member states will accept a current valid national driver’s license. Check to see if you need more documentation than this – such as an international driver’s permit.
You may deal with a car hire broker who will take over renting a car for you. Make sure that you are happy that you are dealing with an appropriate car rental company. Also make sure that you are not paying more in broker’s fees than you need to.
The contract regarding the car rental is not made when you book a car to rent but when you pick up the car. Make sure that you understand what your obligations are both at the time of booking and when you pick up the car. Also be aware of what you need to do to drop back the car without incurring extra charges. This may include returning the car with a full tank of fuel.
Sometimes you can be given a diagram of the car with the exterior damage marked on it - be sure that all damage that is on the car is marked before you drive it away. You may be charged for any damage that is not marked on the diagram or damage report.
You may arrive at night when you cannot properly inspect the car that you are about to hire ask for a torch or flash light so that you can give the car a thorough check before you accept the vehicle.
Do the following checks on the car before you drive the car away from the depot
- Tyres – ensure that they are inflated and in good repair – remember to check the spare tyre as well
- Tools – check that, at the very least, there is a jack and a wrench to replace a tyre should you get a puncture. Also make sure that you have all the necessary safety equipment needed for the area in which you are travelling.
- Fuel – ask if the car runs on petrol or diesel, you may be liable for putting in the wrong type of fuel. Generally, you need to refill the vehicle before you return it so ensure that you have a full tank of petrol when you start.
- Lights – ensure that your lights are all working adequately – this includes indicators break lights and fog lights.
- Windscreen – even the smallest flaw in a windscreen can lead to a large crack so give the windscreen a thorough check and ask for any flaws to be repaired. Make sure that the wiper blades and the windscreen wash system is working adequately.
- Insurance – check that you have the appropriate insurance – if you and another person will be driving check that you are both insured. If you are offered a reduction in price for not having particular cover (such as collision damage) think carefully about what this means before waiving this cover. Also clarify how this discount works – for example, do you need to leave a deposit in case you cause damage to the car in a collision.
If you plan on taking a rented car across a national border ask the car rental company if this is possible before you cross the border.
When you return the car to the car rental company make sure that you have the car checked while you are there. This may mean that you avoid charges being put on your credit card for damage that you did not know about. Even though you may have purchased a damage waiver, car rental companies may charge your credit card for any excess amounts that may apply. It is important, therefore, to have the vehicle inspected on return and have any damage noted.
You can find more information on renting a car on the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website and on the European Consumer Centre website. The Car Rental Council of Ireland has information on the Code of Practice for the car rental industry.
Different rates apply to different car rental agreements from different companies. Shop around for the best deals either on the internet or by telephoning car rental companies.
How to apply
If you have a complaint about a car that you have rented in Ireland, in the first instance, go to the company from whom you have rented the car. If you are still not satisfied contact the Car Rental Council of Ireland who have a complaints procedure for member companies.
If you have a complaint with a car rental company in another EU member state contact the European Consumer Centre who may be able to advise you of your rights and help you with the complaint.
Where to apply