Renting a car
If you have a valid driving licence, you can rent a car or a larger vehicle.
While there are many companies offering car rental services, always make sure your reservation is with an approved car rental company. They will ensure the car is safe and roadworthy. You can choose from a range of car models in various sizes.
Usually when hiring a car, you will be asked to show proof of identity (for example, your passport) and a credit card. You will also need to show your valid driving licence. Check with the rental company to see if you need more documentation, such as an international driver’s permit.
Read all terms and conditions before reserving a rental car. For example, if you are under 25 or over 70, some age limits may apply. You should also reserve it as early as possible to make sure you get the car you want at a reasonable price.
If you are dealing with a car hire broker (someone who will rent a car for you), make sure they are dealing with an appropriate car rental company. Check that you are not paying more in broker’s fees than you need to.
You will be asked to sign a rental contract when you pick up the car. Before you sign it, make sure you have read it and understand what your obligations are. For example, you may need to return the car with a full tank of fuel to avoid incurring extra charges. If you are unsure about anything, always ask your rental company to explain it to you.
Sometimes you can be given a diagram of the car with exterior damage marked on it. Check the car for any extra damage (not yet marked on the diagram) and make sure this is recorded before you drive away. You can be charged for any damage that is not marked on the diagram or damage report.
If you arrive at the car rental depot at night (when you cannot properly inspect the car), ask for a torch or flash light so that you can give the car a thorough check before you accept the vehicle.
Drivers over 75
If you are aged 75 or over, you may have to meet some extra conditions before hiring a car. For example, you could be asked for:
- Confirmation that you drive on a regular basis
- A letter from your insurer to say you have an up-to-date policy and no accidents in last 5 years
- A letter from your doctor confirming you are fit to drive
You could also be asked to do a driving assessment with a staff member from the car hire company.
Important checks to do before driving
Before you drive the car away, make sure to check the:
Make sure that the tyres are inflated and in good repair. Remember to check the spare tyre as well.
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.
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.
Check that your lights are all working adequately. This includes indicators break lights and fog lights.
Even the smallest flaw in a windscreen can lead to a large crack. 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.
Check that you have the appropriate insurance. If you and another person will be driving the car, 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. Ask 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 (for example, to Northern Ireland), 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 way you avoid charges being put on your credit card for damage you did not know about. Even though you may have purchased a damage waiver, car rental companies can charge your credit card for any excess amounts that may apply. For that reason, it is important to have the vehicle inspected on return and have any damage noted.
You can find more information on renting a car from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the European Consumer Centre. 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 online or by phoning car rental companies.
How to make a complaint
If you have a complaint about a car that you have rented in Ireland, first 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 for advice on your rights and help with your complaint.