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Should you refuel your rental car?

Written by Andrew Daniel

Posted on July 30, 2012

There is a large disparity in the way car hire companies treat refuelling so the answer has to be to check your car hire agreement.

Mostly car hire firms will supply the car with a full tank and expect you to return it in the same state. Many have punitive charges or refuelling administration fees in addition to the cost of the fuel. Others like Europcar make no punitive charge but have been estimating the amount of fuel used which can work either way for the hirer so check the final bill.

Some hire car companies work on the principle of supplying you with a full tank and charging for it, so there’s no benefit in refilling before returning the car. If you don’t want to waste money by effectively giving the hire company the residue in the tank the natural instinct would be to attempt to return the car on the last fumes, but this can be a stressful way to end a holiday, especially if you get it wrong and run the car dry! Many short term hires will not cover enough mileage to empty a tank in the first place so bear in mind the companies’ refuelling policy when choosing the hire company.

Of course, when refuelling it is vital that you put the right fuel in the car. Misfuelling can be very expensive, if you realise you have done it, do not start the car, in fact, do not put the keys in the ignition as this may cause the fuel pump to run. Protecting yourself from misfuelling is one very good reason for taking out a car hire excess insurance policy.

Cost conscious consumers should compare car hire costs rather than accepting what is on offer from a package deal.