Whenever you are hiring a car you should inspect the car thoroughly because when you enter into a car rental agreement you are signing a contract that will make you liable for payment when a car is damaged. Most car rentals in Rwanda require an agency to provide you with a damage report to fill in. If a rental company does not provide this, you should be very cautious about renting from them.  So what should you mark on your damage report? We hope the following list is of assistance before you land into trouble.

Check the Exterior:

Check for dents and scratches and mark them in the corresponding area of your damage report. Good practice is to circle the area on the damage report where there is a dent, place an ‘X’ where there are stone chips and scratches and use lines to indicate long marks or scratches. It is also good practice to put notes on the damage report explaining what you have marked. It also helps to take a video or photos of what you find and if you do this try and get a shot that shows the  position on the car, not just a close up of the damage. Be thorough with your inspection and ask questions if you are not sure of anything.

A good tip is to check for even panel gaps all the way around the vehicle. Uneven panel gaps are a sign of a vehicle that has had accident damage and may be in need of further repair. If a rental vehicle has had a temporary repair, be sure that you have photographic evidence of how the vehicle was given to you in case something goes wrong.

Check the Windscreen:

It is important to check the windscreen carefully. Most rental companies deem small stone chips as fair wear and tear. Larger chips and cracks are not fair wear and tear if they breach roadworthy guidelines and hence need to be repaired so are at the renter’s expense. Always make sure you mark any windscreen chips on the damage report using and ‘X’.

Check the interior:

Sometimes you might come across damaged interiors in rental cars.  If there is no room on the damage report to mark this, then writing a comment about the interior damage is acceptable. You may want to note things like rips and tears and stains so that you avoid cleaning fees.

Check if you can drive the car..

Rental cars come in various types, ages and condition. If you have elected to drive an older model car then there may be some things that you have to accept. Things like faded paint and interiors are inevitable on older model rental cars. However, they should always be maintained to roadworthy standards. Things like lights, windscreen wipers, tyres and brakes should be serviceable so if you notice issues with these, bring them to the attention of your rental company.

 Check for the Fuel and Kilometres travelled:

When you check your hired car for damage always make sure you note the amount of fuel in the car and how many kilometres the car has traveled. This is important where you opt for deals that have limited kilometre usage so that you do not pay for kilometres you did not use. Checking the fuel in the car is important as you do not want to be charged for fuel you did not use.

In summary, always be mindful that you are entering into a contract when you hire a car in Rwanda. Do not take for granted opportunities such as insurance excess reduction options and tyre and windscreen cover to reduce your liability. Products like these that are offered by your rental company can save you a lot of money if something goes wrong.

If need be, take photographs of the car before signing the car rental agreement. This will act as proof in case misunderstandings rise with the rental company.