What safety checks should I verify before renting my car?

Before renting out your vehicle, you must ensure that it is roadworthy. Your inspection routine must be up to date, as well as regular maintenance verifications for your vehicle. Do not rent your vehicle if one of the following conditions is not met.

1. Tire condition and inflation

Worn or insufficiently inflated tires will affect the vehicle’s roadholding, increase braking distances and heighten the risk of aquaplaning and punctures.

Underinflated tires = hazard

You must check the inflation of your tires at least once a month.

To do so, you will need a manometer or any of the standard inflation devices found at most garages and filling stations. Unscrew the cap on the tire’s valve (the valve is a short, flexible extension protruding from the wheel rim), stick the pressure gauge onto the valve and read the pressure measurement. Repeat for the other tires. If the inflation pressure is within the manufacturer’s recommended values (usually noted somewhere on the framework of the driver’s door and/or in the service manual), then you’re good to go. If not, then inflate the tires, being careful not to go over the maximum pressure (indicated on the side of the tire). Ideally, you should measure pressure when the tires are cold, but if you can’t, then add 0.3 bars to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Please note that recommended pressures for front and rear tires may differ.

Worn tires = hazard

The average life of a tire is around 30,000km, but it really depends on how you use your vehicle.

Start by checking your tires for general wear and tear (cracks and splits, abrasions, embedded objects, etc.). Then measure how worn the tread is using the tread wear indicators, or “wear bars”. To find them, look for a triangle, the manufacturer’s logo or the TWI sign on the edge of the tire. Wear bars look like small bumps in between tread patterns, like strips of smooth rubber moulded on the tire’s surface. When the tread is worn to the point of being level with these bars, the tires are considered “bald” and must be changed. Your tires should have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm. Remember to check all four tires, as sometimes the rear tires wear less quickly than those at the front.

(finding the tread wear bars)

2. Lights and indicators

Check all your vehicle’s lights:main beam and dipped headlights, sidelights, fog lights, reverse lights (get a friend to help you), hazard lights, indicators, dashboard, and finally the lights around the license plate.

It is almost impossible to guess when a bulb is about to blow, so keep a box of spare bulbs and fuses in your glove compartment just in case. It is recommended that you change your lights in pairs, in order to avoid differences in efficiency between the two sides.

Also check that your headlights are aligned: place your vehicle 10m away from a wall and check that the beams projected onto the wall are the same height off the ground. If one of your headlights is just 1% too high, the risk of dazzling another driver is 20 times higher!

3. Braking system

The braking system contains several elements that must be checked. If your brake pads are in poor condition, braking distances will increase. Worn brake discs will cause jerky braking. Low brake fluid will make braking more difficult. If you have noticed any of the following symptoms, you should have your brakes checked immediately: your car veers to the left or right when you brake; contact with the brake pedal is hard, or too soft; your brakes squeal; or your steering wheel vibrates when you brake.

Brake discs

  • The brake disc is the technical component that slows down the wheel and therefore stops the car. It is imperative that you change your brake discs if you detect anything abnormal (if a disc has deep grooves, cracks or is broken, etc.) or when the minimum wear thickness is reached (it can be found on your vehicle’s spec sheet). Please note that if you are changing your brake discs, you also need to change your pads.
  • Brake discs need to be changed every 60,000km or so.

Brake pads

Brake pads wear more quickly and need to be changed more often than brake discs (around every 30,000km). Checking your brake pads’ condition is very easy: most cars are equipped with a pad wear warning which lights up when your brake pads are too worn. You can also dismantle your wheels and measure the thickness of the pads yourself (the minimum thickness can be found on your vehicle’s spec sheet). Finally, your brake fluid level is also a good indicator of how worn your brake pads are: the more worn the pads are, the lower your brake fluid will be.

(brake pad wear and brake fluid warnings)

4. Do not forget to check…

  • Windscreen condition. You must have it repaired if it is chipped, and replaced if it is cracked.
  • The levels of your brake fluid, antifreeze, engine oil and windscreen washer.
  • Windscreen wipers condition: they should not leave water traces behind them, and ought to be changed twice a year.
  • The condition and proper attachment of your rear-view and wing mirrors
  • That you have a spare wheel, a warning triangle and a high-visibility jacket: it’s the law! If you have the slightest doubt about how safe your car is, you should not rent it out.

For cars registered in France: You can use the Simplauto site to compare prices of contrôle technique for your car.

Was this article helpful?

Oops! No results found.