Cars and car hire
Car hire is of course an essential element of a flydrive holiday. In general it is an easy and enjoyable thing to do with the cars all being of a very high standard. There are however a few differences between cars and car hire in America when compared with the UK.
Scroll down this page to read all about them.
I have already included a number of brief car hire tips within a section of my main tips page . This page goes into far more detail.
- At the car hire desk
Irrespective of if you are arranging the car hire at the time or are picking up a pre-arranged car (I strongly recommend the latter, get it all paid for in the UK), be absolutely certain what you want to hire. This is because the agent on the desk will always attempt to talk you into an upgrade. If you are tired after a long flight, the offers can seem very attractive. Resist, stick to your guns. At busy times of year and at busy airports, they may well not have the exact vehicle you booked. That being the case they will normally upgrade the vehicle for you but will try to talk you into paying for the upgrade first. In the past I have been upgraded to a minivan, to a fourwheel drive and to a premium car on each occasion from the intermediate (Vauxhall Vectra equivalent) I had booked, all at no cost by holding out for what I reserved and not being talked into buying an upgrade. One agent even tried to get me to pay extra for air-conditioning (very tempting because it was very hot), but again I refused as I knew I had never been in a car in the USA that did not have air conditioning. Once again the car I ended up with did have the feature they tried to get me to buy. Even if they do have the vehicle you booked they will still try to get you to upgrade.
I advise booking all the car hire and the insurance before you travel. Know your insurance cover both for the car and your general holiday insurance cover. They will try to talk you into paying extra for extra cover. If you are well prepared this is entirely uneccessary. If you have booked a cheap flydrive package or have got one of those 'free car' deals, check out your insurance cover very carefully before you travel. Many such deals do not include insurance and it will be cheaper to pre-buy it in the UK than to pay on arrival in America.
- When you get to the car
However tired you are or however excited you are and want to hit the road, take your time. Very carefully inspect the car inside and out for damage of any sort. Do the inside before any of your party get in and before you load up the luggage. Report anything you find. Ensure it is noted on the documentation. Refuse to accept a car you are not happy with. This will avoid problems when you drop the car off at the end of your trip.
Once you are happy that the car is in good order, take your time again, do not rush off. Find out where all of the controls are for lights, windscreen wipers, windscreen washers, air-conditioning, how the cruise control works etc. Checkout where the fuel filling position is, how to open it and what type/grade of fuel the vehicle uses. Find the handbrake ! this is often a foot brake high up in the footwell on the left hand side. Depress it to brake the car and pull a lever on the dashboard to release it
I speak from personal experience. It is not pleasant driving along in busy traffic not knowing how to turn the lights on as it starts getting dark. It is quite scary not to know how to turn the winscreen washers and wipers on when visibility is poor and it is embarrassing driving into a petrol station, pulling up at the wrong side of the wrong pump and not being able to open the filler cap ! I've been there done it, got the T shirt - dont copy me.
- Driving the car
Every car or minivan I have ever hired in the USA has been an automatic. These are very easy to drive but a little un-nerving if you haven't driven one before when you first sit down in one. I'm not going to produce a driving manual here, but I would recommend you do a little preparation before you go if you have not driven one before (if nothing else, sit in one in a car show room).
Each car I have hired also had cruise control which is wonderful on the wide open roads of the American west. Take your time to read the instructions in the car manual before you set off and you will love this feature.
- Dropping the car off
Know where you are dropping the car off well before you set off for the airport so that you allow sufficient time to drop the car off and get to the terminal which can be quite some way away from the car hire depot. This is particularly relevant since the massive increase in airport security since September 11th as you cannot rush through the airport, there will be delays due to security.
Inspect the car yourself when you drop it off to ensure that you know what condition it is in. You will have to hand in your papers to somebody at the car hire depot. Point out to them any minor damage you found during your pick up inspection which should also be noted on your documentation.
- General Beginners Tips on Car Rental
The following content has been kindly provided for uk-2-usa.com readers by www.comparecarhire.co.uk
Before visiting the USA, you should be prepared for driving on the `wrong` side of the road, with slightly different traffic laws. One of the big differences in traffic laws in America is that you are usually allowed to turn when lights are on red. This is when turning right only (i.e. not across any traffic) and you must completely stop and check first. You must carry your driving licence and insurance documents with you at all times when driving.
How old do you have to be to hire a car in the USA?
Throughout most of America, you can rent a car when you are aged 21, although an exception is New York state, where the minimum age is 18. However, a large proportion of car rental companies will have a minimum age of 23 and almost all will charge extra (a surcharge) for anyone aged under 25.
How long do you need to have held a full licence?
There is no minimum age by law, although the majority of car hire companies will require you to have held your licence for at least a year to be able to rent a car. Some will charge extra if you`ve had your licence less than two years.
What insurance should I buy?
Unlike the UK, car hire companies in the USA do not normally include any insurance with the car itself. Policies differ between providers, however, cover for damage or theft to the vehicle is normally known in the USA as CDW or LDW (a collision damage waiver, or a loss damage waiver). This does not cover damage or injuries to any third parties, however, meaning it is sensible to take out SLI (supplemental liability insurance). With this cover, there is normally no excess to pay in the event of a claim, although you should expect to pay at least twenty dollars a day.
What is the most cost effective way of getting one way car hire?
If you`re looking to hire your car in one location and drop it off in another, you should inform the car hire company first, as they will need to arrange this and there may be an extra charge. If there is a charge, it will generally be calculated by distance (about $30-$50 for every 200 miles). However, if you`re travelling between two popular locations, such as Florida to California, or Nevada to Utah, there is often no charge - you should try several companies with your planned route.
The above content has been kindly provided for uk-2-usa.com readers by www.comparecarhire.co.uk
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