How to Return a Rental Car With Scratches

by Jason Unrau

Renting a car can be a liberating experience, releasing you from a reliance on public transportation whether you are at home or away for work or pleasure. It is always possible for damage to occur to any vehicle whether it is your fault or not. Knowing the procedure for renting a vehicle will help you avoid unnecessary costs when returning the car.

Renting the Car

Since renting a vehicle can be exciting, you may find yourself wanting to rush through the rental-agreement process as quickly as possible so that you can start driving. It is important to know what you are agreeing to.

Part of the rental agreement involves checking the vehicle over for damage. When you rent a vehicle, you agree to return it in the same condition in which you received it. The rental company will charge you the repair cost and out-of-service time for damage that occurs when the vehicle is in your possession. Inspect the vehicle thoroughly for damage with the rental agent and take note of any scratches, paint chips, dents and other flaws. The agent should mark the damage on the rental agreement before you sign.


If there is any damage you've noticed that has not been marked on rental-agreement inspection form, don't sign it until you are comfortable.

Returning the Car

When returning a car, it is just as important to perform a vehicle inspection with the rental agent as it was when you rented the car. Take note of any scratches, dents, cracks and other marks on the car. When both you and the rental agent have completed the inspection, sign the check-in form. If there is no damage aside from what was noted at the time of rental, the process is complete.

If there is additional damage that occurred while the rental car was in your possession, you are responsible for the repair cost and the downtime to repair it.

For example, suppose the front bumper was scratched while the car was in your possession, and the repair cost is $500 and it will take three days to fix it in the shop. The rental company will charge you for the cost of three days' rental plus the $500 to repair the bumper.


Loss damage waivers, or LDWs, are offered by rental car agencies for a daily fee. These waivers absolve the renter from responsibility in the event of unintentional damage to a rental car while it is in his possession.

Check with your insurance provider before renting, as many companies include coverage that extends to damage on rental vehicles. Coverage varies by provider and policy, but it may save you unnecessary charges on extra insurance through the rental agency.

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