5 self-drive vehicle hire myths you need to know about

5 self-drive vehicle hire myths you need to know about

As is the same with all industries, the vehicle rental sector is fraught with myths and misconceptions, many of which often get discussed in the public forums.

In this article, we wanted to explore some of the most common myths and misconceptions, to help shed some light on the areas that can often cause the most concern.

Renting from a large company

One of the most common myths about self-drive vehicle rental is that you should only rent from one of the big-named brands. This most certainly is not the case. In fact, you would more often than not get a higher-quality of service from a smaller business, since they have a greater connection with their customers.

This is not to say that larger organisations will give you bad service, but because of their size and their place in the market, they are often able to see their customers as numbers, rather than individuals.

At the same time, the policies and the terms of the rental for larger rental companies will have been drawn up with a “one size fits all” approach. In contrast, smaller, family-run organisations will have terms that are more reasonable and focus on the customer, rather than the vehicle.

You will be charged for the damage you did not do

Now this is one of the more common myths that we see. Many people think that they are going to be charged, or an additional fee will be added to their final balance, for every piece of damage on the vehicle, even if it was not their fault.

This certainly is not the case. With the sheer number of vehicles on the road and the vast number of rental companies operating across the country, the percentage of penalties is actually very small.

Some vehicle rental companies operate a discretionary policy when it comes to their vehicles, for example, small nicks caused by flying stones on a motorway. If you are in doubt, make sure you ask for more information before making your booking.

Any traffic offences will not apply to the driver

Previously, drivers may have assumed that if they were caught speeding or committed another traffic offence in a rental vehicle, then the ticket would not apply to them. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Just because the driver does not own the vehicle, it does not mean that they will not be held accountable.

The penalty will apply to the driver, and if a ticket or enforcement notice is delivered to the vehicle rental company, then it will be passed onto whoever rented the vehicle.

All rental companies are the same

You might think that every rental company is the same, but this is certainly a myth. On the surface, it may seem like it is true, but when you drill down into the terms and conditions, standards of service, vehicle selection and special offers, most companies are very different.

At the same time, it is important to remember that the rental industry as a whole is always evolving, and so are the rules and regulations that govern rental companies. This means that some companies will take a bit longer to implement any changes into their terms and conditions, so it is important to read them thoroughly before you make your booking.

In short, do not assume that just because someone you know made a booking five years ago, you will get the same treatment.

If you booked a specific vehicle, you will get it

Whilst you may have booked a specific vehicle (for example, a Ford Focus or an Audi A3), unfortunately, you are not always guaranteed to get the exact make and model.

The reason for this is that the vehicle rental industry works with SIPP codes, which make it easier to compare vehicles by grouping similar vehicles together. When you collect your vehicle and see that it is a different make or model, you do not have to worry.

Due to the way that SIPP codes are used, the vehicle you are given is equal to, or can be superior, to your original order.

Examples of SIPP codes include:

  • MBMD (M = Mini, B = 2/3 door, M = manual drive, D = diesel with air conditioning)
  • PFBD (P = Premium, F = SUV, B = automatic, 4-wheel drive, D = diesel with air conditioning)
  • LTNV (L = Luxury, T = convertible, N = manual, 4-wheel drive, V = petrol with air conditioning

At GKL, we ensure you get the vehicle you want if you are not bothered by exact makes and models, then the vehicle chosen will meet your requirements. We are flexible and are able to source most makes and models, so it is worth speaking to us before making your booking.

Further reading


In summary, if you plan ahead and are able to be flexible with your vehicle choice, then the chances that you are caught out by unforeseen charges will be kept to a minimum. Remember, if you are ever in doubt about whether a self-drive vehicle rental is right for you, then we are here to help.

Our specialist team have extensive experience guiding customers on the right vehicle selection, but if you are still unsure, then get in touch with them today. They will be more than happy to help.


01844 852000