ECC-Net: Car hire in Europe - consumer advice for your car travel

Car hire in Europe

Car travel may be a convenient way to get around on your holiday or a business trip in the EU. If you are planning to rent a car in Europe, get advice from your European Consumer Centres for more peace of mind. Still had problems with your car rental abroad? Your ECC offers free help.

ECC consumer tips on car hire in Europe

Based on the experience of European Consumer Centres advising consumers on car rental.

1. Before hiring

Check what is included in the price quote: pay special attention to airport and other local charges and the insurance coverage.

Always check the cost of any extras you will need during your rental.

Check the fuel policy.

Check the cancellation policy.

Check for any restrictions (e.g. on the allowed mileage or the countries where you may travel).

2. Collecting the car

If you booked online, take a printout of your booking with you.

If you are signing a rental contract at your destination, check if the terms are the same as in the booking you made earlier; keep a copy of any documents you sign.

Make sure you understand what is covered by your insurance.

Always ask about the company policy in case of breakdown or accident.

Check the car with a staff member for any damage. If you are not provided with a special checklist or diagram, make sure you note any damage and have it signed by an employee.

3. During the car rental

If the car breaks down, call the rental company and follow their instructions. Do not have the vehicle repaired yourself without their authorisation.

In case of an accident, note down the names and addresses of everyone involved. If anybody is injured or there is a dispute over who is responsible, call the police. Contact the rental company immediately.

4. Returning the car

Try to return the car during the rental company’s opening hours so you can be there when they check it.

An employee should make a note of the condition of the car. Both you and the employee should sign this. Keep a copy.

If you must return the car outside working hours, park it in the designated area. Consider taking photos of the car as proof that it was returned in good condition.

How the Centres helped others

Unfair trading: money back for extras (UK consumer / Irish car rental company )

A UK consumer booked a rental car from the trader’s website and got a confirmation through e-mail. The booking confirmation stated that the cost was the “total for your specific price” and “price is guaranteed”.

Read more

Money back for fuel surcharge: Irish consumer / French car rental company

When an Irish consumer arrived to collect his car in France, his chosen car was not available.

Read more