A guide to car rental breakdown
The ultimate guide to car hire breakdowns
Although rental vehicles are regularly cleaned and serviced to ensure they're reliable, the unexpected can still happen. Your rental could breakdown. But if you know the steps to take in the event of a breakdown and what you'll be covered for, it doesn't have to ruin your holiday.
What to do if your car hire breaks down?
What is car hire breakdown cover?
Breakdown coverage is typically an extra insurance element that falls under a bigger (pricier) insurance package, not something you can purchase individually. You can buy an insurance policy that includes breakdown cover from the supplier or with a third party insurance provider. It should cover the cost of towing and repairs for any breakdown due to wear and tear as well as certain driver-induced accidents (e.g. locking keys in vehicle).
However, even if you buy extra insurance, not everything will necessarily be covered. Misfuelling (filling up the tank with the wrong fuel) and clutch burnouts are often excluded from policies as they are classified as being the driver's own fault.
If you only purchase the basic insurance, which does not include breakdown coverage or roadside assistance, you would be charged for any repairs and associated costs.
There are some suppliers that offer roadside assistance packages for a daily rate, however, they usually do not include mechanical issues. Rather they cover things such as: tyre assistance, flat battery, fuel delivery and lock out services. Carefully read as to what your supplier defines as roadside protection in order to decide whether purchasing the daily cover is worth it.
It's also important to note that personal auto insurance will not cover you during a rental, but certain auto associations or credit cards may help you out. Just check the fine print.
Who is responsible for the mechanical failure of a rental car?
Car hire companies will assesses any mechanical failure in order to determine whether it was due to natural wear and tear or the driver's own negligence.
In the circumstance of abrupt failure, the issue may have been caused by the previous renter or gradual deterioration. The supplier should carry out a through check to find out the problem, and hopefully, rule the issue to not be your fault. Unfortunately, there are cases when the renter gets stuck with a hefty repair bill, simply because they were the one responsible for the car during the breakdown. As rental cars are maintained regularly, the supplier will likely assume the issue was a result of poor driving.
If the mechanical failure due to an accident the renter is most likely to be responsible and charged for the damage.
Will I be compensated if my rental breaks down?
Compensation depends on the circumstance of the car failure and your insurance policy.
When you rent with a bigger company, there is a greater likelihood of being able to swap your broken rental for a new car. How quickly you receive a replacement will vary based on how far you are from the nearest branch and the availability of other cars.
In the case the breakdown occurred due to driver negligence, the rental company may refuse you a replacement vehicle. You will also have to pay any costs for towing and repair. Additionally, you may not be reimbursed or compensated if you fail to follow the company's rules (e.g. you break down driving off road).