Essential Checklist: How to Thoroughly Inspect a Rental Car Before Driving Away

car rental

Before we go to the main topic of this blog, let me share to you the reason behind me writing this. A few weeks ago, we went to Boracay with my family. There’s no direct flight from Samar going to Caticlan Airport so we have to go to Cebu first. The original plan was to bring our car to Cebu and then park it at the airport while we were in Boracay. Just so we can tour around Cebu for a day before going back home. We didn’t proceed with that plan because when we inquired with Cockaliong Shipping Lines, the cost for our car on the ferry was PHP 15,000 one way. Php 30,000 roundtrip fare with the car is not reasonable for us considering we will only use it for one or two days.

Now, after our Boracay trip our flight going back to Cebu was 4 pm. We arrived in Mactan-Cebu Airport past 5 pm. Our next flight from Cebu to Calbayog was 6 am the next day, so we had almost 11 hours of layover in Cebu. This was when we decided to just rent a car.

That was the first time we rented a car so it didn’t go as smoothly as we want to. We learned so much so I will share this with you just in case you decide to rent a car for yourself.

Where we rent a car in Cebu

Just outside the Arrival Area at Cebu Airport, there are different car rental companies. We went with the one near Jolibee, I forgot the name. Thinking about it now, I would suggest to book in advance just so you can research about the company and read reviews. My recommendation is to book via KLOOK.

CLICK HERE TO BOOK – Cebu Private Car Rental
CLICK HERE TO BOOK – Cebu Private Car Rental with Driver

The car rental fee is Php 3500 for 24 hours of use. We used it for 8 hours and we still pay for Php 3500. There is a deposit fee of Php 3000. We got it in full tank and we were told to return it in full tank as well.

We got the car at around 7 pm. It was dark already so we didn’t really check it thoroughly – which was a big mistake because when we returned it there was a needle-like scratch on the front side of the car. You wouldn’t really notice it if you didn’t know it was there. But for some reason when we returned it, the guy focused his flashlight on that scratch right away it was as if he knew that it was there and wanted to put the blame on us. We were 100% sure we did not bump into something to scratch it but since we didn’t have proof/pictures of the car before getting it, it was hard to prove. If I could go back in time, I would have done the number 7 on the list I made below.

Inspect the car before renting it

Inspecting a car before renting it is crucial to avoid disputes over damages and to ensure you are getting a vehicle in good condition. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to inspect a car before renting it:

1. Exterior Inspection

  • Check for Scratches and Dents: Walk around the car and carefully inspect for any scratches, dents, or other damage. Look at the doors, bumpers, hood, and trunk.
  • Check the Tires: Ensure all tires are in good condition with sufficient tread depth and proper inflation. Look for any cuts, bulges, or uneven wear.
  • Inspect the Lights: Test all lights, including headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals, to ensure they are functioning correctly.
  • Look at the Windshield and Windows: Check for any cracks, chips, or excessive wear. Ensure the wipers are in good condition and the washer fluid is topped up.

2. Interior Inspection

  • Check the Seats and Upholstery: Look for any stains, tears, or damage to the seats and interior upholstery.
  • Test All Controls and Features: Ensure all controls, including the air conditioning, heating, radio, and any other electronic features, are working properly.
  • Inspect the Dashboard: Check for any warning lights or unusual indicators on the dashboard when you start the car.
  • Check the Mileage: Note the mileage on the odometer to ensure it matches what’s documented in your rental agreement.

3. Mechanical and Functional Checks

  • Start the Engine: Listen for any unusual sounds when starting the engine. The engine should start smoothly without any strange noises.
  • Test the Brakes: Ensure the brakes feel firm and responsive. There should be no squeaking or grinding noises.
  • Test the Steering: The steering should be smooth and not have any excessive play or vibrations.
  • Check Fluid Levels: Verify that essential fluids (oil, coolant, brake fluid) are at appropriate levels.

4. Documentation and Photos

  • Take Photos and Videos: Take clear photos and videos of any existing damage both inside and outside the car. Make sure the date and time are visible or saved in the metadata.
  • Document Any Issues: Note down any issues you find and inform the rental company immediately. Ensure these are recorded in the rental agreement or on a separate inspection form.

5. Safety Equipment

  • Check for Spare Tire and Tools: Ensure the car has a spare tire, jack, and necessary tools for changing a tire.
  • Look for Safety Equipment: Verify the presence of a first aid kit, emergency triangles, and any other required safety equipment.

6. Review the Rental Agreement

  • Ensure Documentation Matches: Verify that all existing damages and issues are recorded in the rental agreement.
  • Clarify Fuel Policy: Check the fuel level and understand the fuel policy (full-to-full, pre-purchase, etc.).

7. Final Walkaround with Rental Agent

  • Conduct a Final Walkaround: If possible, do a final walkaround inspection with the rental agent to agree on the car’s condition.
  • Get Confirmation: Obtain written confirmation or acknowledgment of any pre-existing damage from the rental company.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you have thoroughly inspected the car before renting it, which can help avoid any disputes or unexpected charges when you return the vehicle.


If you have questions let me know in the comment section below. You can also check my blog – BORACAY TRAVEL GUIDE | Itinerary, Tourist Spots & Budget.

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