The UK is a wonderful island, bursting with must-see attractions, buzzing cities, peaceful villages and hidden gems. Being such a small island, car rental is ideal if you’re visiting for a holiday or simply want to explore more of what this beautiful country has to offer. However, as with any country, car rental does come with a set of rules and regulations you must adhere to. Driving in the UK can generally feel quite daunting for visitors who are used to driving on the right side of the road. So, if you’ve just landed from the USA, whether you are picking up your car hire from Birmingham airport, Gatwick or Heathrow, you might find the process quite overwhelming at first.
Get off on the right foot and avoid any unnecessary stress; here’s everything you need to know about renting a car in the UK. Who fancies a road trip to the Cotswolds?
Be Aware of Age Restrictions
Minimum age requirements are common with car rental companies in the UK, you could find that if you’re under 25 you’ll struggle to find a company who are willing to hire out a vehicle to you. It will take some searching but be prepared to pay over the odds because of your youth. Similarly, rules regarding maximum age limits also vary from company to company and can sting you with extra fees and insurance requests once you hit the over 70 mark.
Be Prepared for a Manual Transmission
While automatic cars are generally the norm in the US, in the UK the default transmission type is standard/manual. If this sends panic through you, then you could look to hire an automatic but don’t be surprised when the cost suddenly jumps up. If you’re unsure whether you’ll be able to confidently drive a standard transmission, then it might be best just to pay the additional cost to avoid any unnecessary stress.
Know the Fuel Type
In the UK, rental cars may be either petrol or diesel and filling up with the wrong fuel type can often result in severe consequences. The last thing you want is to be liable for any damage caused to the vehicle, so be sure to double check with the car rental firm and be aware at the station when you fill-up.
Revise the Highway Code
If you’re going to be undertaking a fair amount of driving in the UK, then it’s a good idea to brush up on the highway code to avoid any confusion. Roundabouts and signage in the UK can be fairly confusing and perhaps less obvious than that of the US. In order to feel fully confident, look to research online and take a free test before you hit the road.
Take out Full Cover
It’s likely that your car rental company will offer you different levels of insurance – but ensure you have a full understanding of the terminology before you sign on the dotted line. For example, third party insurance will only cover anyone or anything outside of the car and could leave you liable for damages to the rental car itself. In order to avoid any nightmares, it’s recommended that you take out the full insurance policy on offer that covers both yourself, other third-party drivers and any damage to the car.
The key to a successful car rental in the UK is simply knowledge and preparation, a little bit of research before you book your vehicle can go a long way. The most important thing, though? Enjoy your trip! The UK boasts wonderful scenic drives and is truly a spectacular place with plenty of helpful locals who will point you in the right direction. Happy driving!