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Car Rental Scratch or Dent - Should You Repair?

If you’ve rented a car and noticed a scratch or a dent before you hand it back that wasn’t there when you collected the car, you could be in for a hefty bill. You may not have knowingly damaged the car, or it may not have even been you at all. We all know that car parks can be hazardous places for your car as spaces between opening doors gets ever smaller, picking up a dent or ding in a car park is all too familiar and rental cars are no different.

dent scratch rental car repair

The result however is that you will be liable for the cost of the repair, either from the rental agent if you return the car damaged, or from having it repaired before you return. The good news is that many minor dings and dents can be fixed by mobile smart repairs (also known as paint-less dent removal). Minor dents to the body work can often be removed without the need to paint (spray) the panel and is a very cost-effective way of repairing damage, often costing around £60 per dent / panel. If the paint is damaged however and requires painting (spray), it’s likely to cost a lot more and unlikely to be something you want to arrange whilst you have the car on hire.

Should you repair a scratch or dent on a rental car?

If you think, or know that you have damaged the rental car you might consider getting it repaired before returning. Depending on which country you have rented the car may determine how straight forward this might be and any language barrier could cause an issue. You should also be aware than should the repair not be deemed acceptable by the rental agent you may be charged anyway to have the repair carried out again, much like if you get a puncture in a rental car. If you do have the damage repaired, you should keep any invoices / documentation should you require to reference it in future. If the damaged required paint, we advise you not to attempt to, or commission a repair and have the rental agent repair the damage and charge you accordingly.

What if you didn’t cause the damage?

Unfortunately, that is likely to be a case of ‘your word against theirs’ and if the damage is not listed on the car rental condition report you signed when you collected the car the rental agent will assume the damage was caused by you. This underlines the importance of checking the car (we highly recommend taking photos of the car from all angles on arrival for your records) and reporting any damage not highlighted on the car rental condition report from the agent on collection. If you do notice damage not recorded, before you drive off, go back to the rental office / desk and advise them to update and sign the report.

rental car condition report

Sample car rental repair charges

Rental Agent Repair Cost
Highstreet Repair Cost
Minor scratch
free (polish)
Minor dent / ding
Major scratch
Major dent / scratch
Alloy Wheel Scratch
* extent of damage will have a significant impact on both rental agent and highstreet cost, sample for representation only.

Car rental fair wear and tear guidelines

Unlike leasing, or longer term car hire arrangements, the BVRLA fair wear and tear guidelines are not applied to short term rentals. If you have the car on a longer term lease, often between 2-4 years, it’s reasonable to assume that ‘fair wear and tear’ over this term will apply and the BVRLA have guidelines to ensure minor damage is allowed however that is the case for car rental. As generally short terms rentals, the rental agent will expect the car to be returned in the same cosmetic condition as it was collected and any damage will be charged.
Kellie Hodge
Posted: May 14, 2019 by Kellie Hodge
About the Author -

Travel writer, customer service guru, Kellie knows the ins and outs of car rental and always happy to share her knowledge on our blog. Favourite country to visit: Spain.

Last updated: Tuesday, May 14, 2019
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