Car Rental

What To Check When Picking A Rental Car

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Last Updated on June 22, 2022 by Rose Morah

You thoroughly need to inspect your rental car before leaving the rental parking lot.

Inspecting the car will help you identify any visible damages and familiarize yourself with all the aspects of the car.

Therefore, before you pick up your rental car, here is what you need to inspect:

Check the exterior of the car

Look for any visible damages, such as dents and scratches.

If any, the rental agent should document them in the rental contract.

You can also take some digital photos of any noticeable damages at the time of pick up and when dropping off the car. They may help protect you from any unfair rental charges.

In any case, you don’t want to end up paying for damages inflicted by others.

Related: 9 unexpected rental car charges you will likely come across.

Check the inflation and condition of the tires. For your safety on the road, they should not be worn out or have a shallow tread depth.

Any depth below 1.5 mm is considered unsafe and will require replacement.

Lastly, ensure the door handles, wipers, and lights are working well.

Check the engine

To check the engine, ignite the car and pay attention to the engine’s sound for any unusual sounds.

Any unusual sounds could be a bad signal and may need to be brought to the attention of the rental agent.

Next, look for any warning lights on the dash prompting you to check the engine.

Notify this or any other drivability issues to the rental agent.  

You may also like Read This Before Renting A Car In Costa Rica.

Air conditioning

Air conditioning is a must-have in a rental car, especially if are going on an extended road tour.

Ensure that the fan settings are working correctly. 

Additionally, look for any odor inside the car that may trigger allergic reactions to you or your travel companion and notify the rental agent or change the vehicle.

Check if the gas gauge is full

Most rental companies have fuel policies that require you to fill up the tank when dropping off their cars.

Generally, the gas tank should be full when picking up and dropping off the car.

If the gas is not full during the pickup inspection, the rental agent should note it in the rental contract before you leave.

This means that you will not have to fill up the tank when you’re dropping off the car.

Lastly, find out where the gas tank is located and how to open the gas tank door.

Check the glove compartment

Most of the time, the owner’s manual will be in the glove compartment.

The owner’s manual is vital when you want to find how specific features of the car work.

Other things you will find in the glove compartment include the vehicle registration card, rental agency address, and emergency contacts.

Inspect the trunk

Find out how to open the trunk – with the key fob, trunk lock, or from the dash.

Next, take a look at what is in the trunk.

Most importantly, ensure you have a fully inflated spare wheel, jack, and lug wrench.

Check the lights

Check the hazard, headlights, high beams, and interior lights.

Find out where each of the lights are controlled and how to turn them on and off.

Some vehicles have headlights that turn on and off automatically. Others you have to turn them on or off manually.

Check and adjust your seat and mirrors

Make sure that your driver’s seat is adjusted correctly to allow you easily reach the pedals and for a clear sightline when you’re driving. 

Adjust your seat angle until you’re comfortable on the seat.

It is important to have a comfortable seat, especially if you will be driving for long hours.

Lastly, adjust your rearview and side mirrors.

Check the vehicle safety features

Check the cruise control settings. Cruise control helps control the speed, fuel consumption, and any sudden acceleration or deceleration of the car when driving.

Remember to also check the backup cameras and the parking brakes.

The rental agent should show you any additional safety features. You can also find more safety features in the owner’s manual.


Check whether the car has an installed GPS navigation system.

Hello there! My name is Rose. I’m passionate about electric cars and clean energy. My adventurous spirit and journalistic pursuits make each day fascinating and far greater. I consider traveling not just about the grandeur moments, but the little elements that transform the whole experience.