Renting a car in Australia

Self-drive in Australia may sound like an awesome holiday dream come true but when you start researching for more information and comparing the different car rental companies, you’ll probably end up as confused as me. Especially when it is the first time you are actually renting a car.

There are more than 5 car rental companies in Australia and they all have their individual price/day, discounts, add-ons etc. Here are a few important points to take note when booking.

1. GPS

Having a GPS is extremely important in Australia. Do not rely on your smartphone’s GPS. There were many times while my family and I were driving on the roads and we get zero reception (emergency calls only) so if we wanted to change our destination last minute, there was no way to because there was no data for your phone to load the changed route. You can either bring one from your home country or just rent it for a price from the car rental agency.

Another advantage of GPS is that it is much more accurate in timing than Google Maps.

2. Excess Reduction

This is the most confusing point to consider when renting a car and you’ll probably end up with a headache like me in the end. Excess reduction is a product that the car rental agency will offer in order to reduce your liability if there is any damage to the car. Some agencies have a variety of excess reduction options you can choose from and the price of your car will vary significantly depending on what you choose.

As kaisu Singaporeans, my family and I opted to reduce our liability to zero which means that there won’t be a scenario where we will need to pay any amount if something happens to the car. However there is a trade-off for this which is the hefty surcharge. So if paying that cash can make your trip more enjoyable, do it.

3. Sealed & Unsealed Roads

If you ever read the Terms & Conditions when renting your car (which you should), you’ll notice these 2 terms popping up frequently – sealed & unsealed roads. Unlike Singapore where most roads are sealed and there is almost zero probability of you driving on an unsealed one, there is a high chance of you driving on an unsealed road in Australia especially for less urban areas and for us we encountered them frequently in Tasmania.

“A sealed road is a road of which the surface has been permanently sealed by the use of one of several pavement treatments, often of composite construction.”

Most car agencies will not cover you if damage is done while driving on unsealed roads. But I would say this isn’t much of a worry if you just try to be extra careful when driving on unsealed ones.

4. Check your car before driving off

Always check your car before driving off the car rental site because if there are any scratches or damages to the car later when you return, you’ll be held responsible for them. They would give you a car rental slip and remind you to check the car for any damages before you leave the counter. If you do find any, just let the staff at the parking area know and they will indicate them on the slip and sign off to void you of any of the damages caused by the previous driver. Note that sometimes when they pass you the slip, there may already be indications but  do not take it for granted! It is always best to check again yourself because we found several dents and scratches which weren’t already indicated on the slip.

5. Driver

Insurance only covers one driver – the one who rented the car online. (I didn’t realise that and only after I completed the entire booking, I realised the insurance only covered me but I wasn’t the one who will be driving so I had to delete the entire booking and do it all over again). Moreover, insurance will not cover drivers who are under the age of 25. If there is no other drivers who can do that, you can still drive but there will be a surcharge for that.

There are many other points to take note of but I feel that these 5 are those which are more of importance. You can read this article here to understand what else you have to take note of.

The rental company which we went for was Avis which we were very satisfied with during the trip. Oh another thing, if you are unable to collect your car at the timing which you’ve booked beforehand, do not worry because they actually do reserve your car for several hours in the event there is an unexpected event such as a flight delay (which was what we experienced).

Then, have a safe and fun trip in Australia! Feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll try the best of my knowledge to answer them 🙂

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