HIGHER STANDARDS FOR HIRE
HEADING OVERSEAS for an October break? Then you're probably one of the many who will be hiring a car. If so, tread carefully!
Consumer motoring media often use stories about 'death trap' hire cars - available to unsuspecting holidaymakers heading away to the sun. But had you considered that your UK hire car might be concealing a secret - right in front of your eyes?
"It's a fact that the vast majority of cars available for hire in the UK are of a high standard, checked before the keys are handed over and are only a few months old, at most," said Ken Mann, business communications advisor for mytyres.co.uk. "Nevertheless, you'd be shocked at the attitude of some hirers when it comes to looking after several thousand pounds worth of machinery belonging to somebody else. I'm bound to say it, but I never drive a hire car without checking the condition of the tyres - and here's why.
"A friend of my wife and I arrived at a local airport with his family. They hired a people carrier for the duration of their stay with us. On one outing, by mistake, he clipped a kerb. It was at low speed and he joked - 'well at least it's not mine, just a hire car'. We inspected the tyre and found no obvious damage. However, damage might only appear after the car had been returned, and might be missed in a check if the workshop didn't know what to look for. It's a lesson to always run your hand lightly over the outer sidewalls - the most vulnerable - of your hire car tyres. Any undue bulges or significant cuts should be reported. And under no circumstances should you head off unless the offending tyre has been changed or another car offered.
"A couple of years ago I hired a large estate car for a motorway trip between Glasgow and Birmingham. The car came from a reputable company - but I noticed that the nearside front alloy wheel rim was bent and had a slight tear, indicating possible 'kerbing'. If the wheel had sustained that level of damage, then what happened to its very low profile tyre? The company thanked me for reporting the damage, but seemed content to let me go on my way, until I requested a change of wheel and tyre, or another car. I explained that the tyre may have underlying damage. In any case, such significant damage to the wheel could cause the tyre to lose air or have the sidewall damaged by the ragged rim edge. It was clear the receptionist didn't understand the potential danger; a little reluctantly, they found me another car. One wonders what might have happened if I had been in a hurry and hadn't checked."