Driving a self-drive rental car

Driving an unfamiliar rental car

Ever gotten into a new vehicle and thought, ‘Oh, this seems different…’?

You’re not on your own. It’s normal to get used to a specific type or model of car – including where the key controls are, how the steering feels, how the brakes react etc. Which is why, driving an unfamiliar vehicle can be a little daunting. And some people feel uneasy about self-drive car rentals and spot hires.

But the reality is – there’s no need to be concerned.

As the no.1 company for car hire in St Helens and Warrington, at PSD, the customer is our no.1 priority. When you hire from us, we do everything in our power to ensure you’re comfortable with the model chosen and confident taking it on the road.

Before handing over the keys, not only do we conduct a thorough check – to ensure the vehicle is in perfect working order – we provide a free comprehensive demonstration. Showing you exactly how everything works and answering any questions or queries you may have.

Nine times out of ten, self-drive car hire is the most convenient and cost-effective option – and you shouldn’t let the thought of handling an unfamiliar car put you off. Here we share a few tips to (hopefully) put your mind at rest and allow you to book a vehicle with confidence.

Self-drive car hire – 6 tips for a first timer

  1. 1. Familiarise yourself with the unfamiliar

Whilst all manual vehicles have the same driving instruments, the location of these can vary.

The indicator is probably the worst offender. Sometimes it’s on the right, sometimes it’s on the left. But the windscreen wipers, lights, hazard lights etc. can all be guilty of switching places too.

During the demonstration, our in-house expert will point out the key controls. But even so, it’s still worth taking a few minutes to familiarise yourself with the set up. Being prepared will make you feel more at ease, so before you pull away, ensure you know exactly where everything is.

  1. 2. Get comfortable

This may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many people forget.

Prior to setting off, you need to get yourself into a comfortable driving position.

Be sure to adjust the seat accordingly, so that you can easily reach the pedals without having to stretch. And set the vehicle’s mirrors to match your personal height, ensuring you have a clear view of the traffic behind (without having to turn your head), as well as the sides of your vehicle.

  1. 3. Use the car with caution

Cars respond to acceleration differently depending on their level of horsepower. And different makes and models have slightly different brake response times. Therefore, whilst you’re unfamiliar with the power and capabilities of your self-drive hire car, it’s worth being extra cautious.

Always leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front. Accelerate carefully, especially when merging into traffic or taking turns at roundabouts. And when coming to a stop, give yourself enough time to slow down gently, without having to resort to harsh braking.

Controls of a self-drive hire car available at PSD

  1. 4. Minimise distractions

When driving a rental car, it’s more important than ever to minimise any distractions.

You may be used to the radio and GPS in your own vehicle, or a model you’ve driven before. But in the hire car, adjusting the settings may not be as straightforward or could take you longer than usual. Which means, more time with your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road.

Again, it’s best to do these things before setting off. And remember to pop your phone on ‘do not disturb’ or something similar. Driving an unfamiliar car demands your full attention.

  1. 5. Plan the route

It’s always a good idea to plan your journey, but especially when driving a hire car.

Find out which roads you’ll need to use and their associated speed limits. Figure out when you’ll need to change lanes or if there any hazards that you need to be aware of. See if there are any sharp turns or steep hills. And check the traffic conditions in the area you’re planning to travel through.

The more prepared you are, the less apprehensive you’re likely to feel.

  1. 6. Take a mini test drive

Once you’re ready to set off, why not do a quick test drive around the block?

There’s no need to travel too far. But for new customers, we often recommend doing a small loop in the area – which brings you back past our car hire office in either St Helens or Warrington.

That way, you can try out the controls, accelerate and brake, familiarise yourself with the steering, do a couple of manoeuvres. And if you have any questions or concerns about the vehicle, you can simply park up again and ask a member of our team – before you set off on your full journey.

We’re a friendly bunch and always happy to help.

Cars available to hire in St Helens and Warrington

Book your self-drive rental car today

Driving an unfamiliar car is a learning curve – and it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit nervous.

But rest assured, as long as you follow the basic advice outlined above and are sensible on the road, you shouldn’t have any trouble. Most of our first-time customers find that after the first 5 minutes or so, they feel a lot more confident. So why not get in touch and make your booking today?

Here at PSD Vehicle Rental, we have five rental classes to choose from – featuring a range of different vehicle styles and sizes. So we’re bound to have a model you feel comfortable driving.

Plus, all of our self-drive car rental deals include a damage waiver in the cost – which means there’s no need to purchase separate insurance – as well as a complimentary 24/7 national breakdown service.

For more information, or to arrange your first self-drive car hire in St Helens or Warrington, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Provisional bookings can be made online. But if you prefer, you can either give us a call on 0345 222 1022 or send an email to info@psdvehiclerental.co.uk and we’ll get back to you.