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Rental Cars Cause Confusion for Many Drivers

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On: Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 7:49AM | By: Elizabeth Puckett

Rental Cars Cause Confusion for Many Drivers

The rental car industry is a multi-billion dollar a year enterprise in the United States. Every year, millions of people take to the road using rental car services. According to Auto Rental News, as of 2012 there were over 18,000 rental car locations in this country. Renting a vehicle for travel is practical in many circumstances. A rental can keep mileage off your personal vehicle, supplement transportation needs when you don’t have other options, and many people use rentals because smaller models get better gas mileage than their daily driver.

Yes, if you are planning to hit the roads this summer, you will quite possibly end up in a rental car during your travels. It sounds easy enough, right? Wrong, most people are baffled by rentals, and you can’t expect to get much help from the customer service representatives at these facilities—they are just as confused as you are.

So, what’s the problem most people face? The major headache comes the second you try to figure out the functions and controls in the vehicle. You’ve probably got your personal vehicle figured out from hood to trunk because when you bought it the salesman gave you a full tutorial, but don’t expect that from the rental agency employees. Think you can just wing it after you read the owner’s manual in the glovebox? You’re out of luck again! Shockingly, not all rental cars come with the original operating manuals.

Things that should be easy to do, like turning the A/C on, can be a complicated task in modern rentals. Other commonly frustrating features include radio controls, operating the onboard navigation system, turning the interior and exterior lights on & off, and popping the trunk.

Many rental companies are calling on the carmakers to simplify controls for easier use. You may be wondering why the rental agencies don’t just offer better training to their employees instead of calling on the auto manufactures for help, but that’s not reasonable. A full tutorial on every rental would be extremely time consuming and costly to the rental agency. Including an hour-long run down of all of the features on each rental for every customer would ultimately result in skyrocketing rates for rental vehicle.

The best idea for a car renter is to take it upon himself is to learn the features before you get to the lot or before you leave. Most companies offer the option to select your vehicle before ever reaching the location; if you know what model you’re getting ahead of time, look up the owner’s manual online. While it wouldn’t be reasonable to ask employees intricate questions they likely wouldn’t know the answers to, it’s not out of the question that you request a demonstration of the simple features like turning on the lights, climate controls, adjusting the seat, using the windshield wipers, accessing the gas tank, and so on.

Just know that if you see a vehicle driven down the road with the hazard lights on for miles and miles, if you notice the driver is sweating, and is noticeably uncomfortable by the noise level of the radio, he is likely in a rental car.


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