Don’t get caught out, things to remember when borrowing a car

The Everyday Man

There are a number of reasons why you might need to borrow a car – driving a friend’s motor during a trip away, hiring a van to help move house, hopping into Mum or Dad’s for a few days if your own car is being repaired.

If you do find yourself in that situation, however, there are certain things you need to bear in mind before you jump behind the wheel and drive off.

Firstly, remember – it’s not your car! So, this means you have to treat it with the utmost of respect. Not that you don’t look after your own car, of course, but we sometimes have a tendency to let rubbish and other bits and bobs pile up in our vehicle and get a little casual with cleaning up duties. If you’re driving Dad’s car for a week while you’re back from University – for example – then this simply won’t do. Fast food wrappers need to be kept off the seats, and it won’t do any harm to give it a decent wash once you’ve finished driving it. After all, you want to drive it again at some point, so returning it in a better condition than you borrowed it is a wise strategy.

Next up, make sure you’re properly insured to drive the car. It’s a bit of an urban myth that your insurance policy allows you to drive any car – it probably doesn’t unless specifically stated so. Chances are, you will need insurance to drive a car you’re borrowing. The good news is that it’s actually pretty straightforward to do this without having to adjust your annual car insurance policy. You can arrange temporary or short term car insurance at relatively low cost, starting from just a day’s cover. Don’t be tempted to take a risk and do without this; imagine pranging a best mate’s motor without insurance cover…

Also, don’t push your luck. If you’ve asked to borrow a car for a couple of hours, to pop into town, run a few errands and so on, make sure you return it within the time period you suggested (give or take half an hour). Don’t dawdle is one of the ‘proper car borrowing etiquette’ tips listed here. Don’t abuse the use of a car, take in a meal and watch a film at the cinema before cruising back with the car at 10pm.

If it’s not your car, consider the fact that you won’t be familiar with the way it drives, handles and performs – especially if it’s a vehicle you’ve never driven before. Before driving it, spend some time just checking out the controls. There are some great tips on this blog, advising to see where the windscreen wipers are, hazard lights, headlights and so on. Don’t forget to check where the petrol cap is and also how to release it – it’s a common error to pull up on the wrong side of the fuel pumps and then spend an embarrassing few minutes wondering how to get the cap open!

So, the next time you borrow someone else’s car remember – be grateful, respectful, responsible and punctual and hopefully they’ll be happy to allow you the use of it more than once.

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