Rental Cars

I’ve noticed a trend in my photos of trips. Many of them, when categorized by dates, begin with pictures of crappy cars. When I show them to friends they always want to know the story behind them.


The time spent at rental agencies is inversely proportional to the quality of the cars they’re offering. When the cars are in bad shape, there is an inordinate amount of attention spent on all the dings and dents. Often there are so many that we’ve worried that we would be blamed for adding more and started taking quick photos for proof of how it looked when we took it.

IMG_0590 – Version 2Why do they bother to make such a big deal out of it? The wheel covers are just held on by zip ties.IMG_2479One car had the front bumper skin loosely held on by a wood screw!IMG_1722That one was written up like this:Version 2

And yet, when returning the vehicle, the attendant had the nerve to question me about it. I showed him the photo and pointed to the rental agreement and he sent us on our way.

Some advice:

  • Learn to read a map.  We had reserved a GPS in Jordan only to be told upon arrival “we rented the last one this morning.” So we bought a map and made the best of it.
  • Test the outlets in the rental.  We brought our own GPS to Mexico only to find the power outlet didn’t work. We had to rely on the battery on the GPS. Even the newer cars with USB outlets don’t always supply power to your cell phones.
  • Test the mechanicals.  If the car looks like it’s been through the ringer, the brakes may be shot. You’ll regret it when a random, unmarked speed bump shows up unexpectedly.
  • Learn how to operate the lights.  Cars in Europe and elsewhere have vertical adjustment. We drove from Amman to Wadi Rum in the evening without being able to see too far ahead of us. I noticed an adjustment dial near the headlamp switch the next day and was able to raise the headlamp aim. It made all the difference in the world.
  • Check the washer fluid.  If you’ve ever driven in Michigan or Ontario on a sunny day when the snow is melting you’ll know what I mean. Between the glare and the crud thrown up from the other cars you can quickly get in trouble if you can’t spray some fluid.

Sometimes the cars are strangely marked. Hyundai and Dodge in the same trunk? This car has an identity crisis.IMG_2414~Freddy


I'm an engineer, a veteran, and an avid traveler. I agree with Robert Louis Stevenson - "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."

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