Travel Tip for the Week: Rental Cars

Have you ever pulled your rental car up to a gas pump, only to realize the tank is on the other side of the car? It’s a pain in the ass, right? Cuz then you either have to get back in your car and drive in figure 8s to align the gas tank and pump, or you have to wrestle the gas hose around and up and over your car, hoping the tube is long enough to reach your tank.

I have seen many a person struggle with the ‘which side is my gas tank on’ dilemma, when really there is an easy solution. If you look at the gas gauge on your car, there is a little triangle. The tip of the triangle points to the side of the car that the gas tank is on (see below).

The gas tank in this car is on the left-hand side

The other frustrating part about putting gas in rental cars is How in the world do you open the cover flap? These are the common areas to check:

INSIDE THE CAR
1) To the left or right of the steering column, sometimes near audio controls
2) Down by your left knee, but still in the console — Toyota hybrids especially, some Chevys
3) On the floor of the car next to the seat adjustment apparatus
4) In the arm of the door on the driver’s side — Chevys trick you with this one frequently

OUTSIDE THE CAR
1) Open the gas flap directly
2) Spring loaded gas flap opened by quickly pushing and releasing the latch point (right side of cover flap)
3) Opens like a trap door by pressing OPPOSITE to the usual latch point (left side of cover flap) — I think it was a Lexus that effed me up completely here

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now a plug for a gem amongst rental car companies: National.

They are great because you are allowed to pick your car, even if you aren’t a rewards member. Once you check in with the desk they direct you to a specific lot (compact, intermediate, full sized) based on your reservation. You see a car you like, you take it! You are able to pick a model you are familiar with or have driven previously. Takes away a lot of guess work.

It’s even better if you are an Emerald Club member. Seriously, just sign up before you rent, the rewards are instantaneous. As an Emerald Club member you skip the desk and the lines, walk straight to the Emerald Aisle, and choose any car in your status whether you are Emerald Aisle or Executive Elite (at small airports you may still have to visit the desk). Plus the Emerald Club usually means a free upgrade for you, in addition to skipping all the time-consuming BS in the beginning.

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One response to “Travel Tip for the Week: Rental Cars

  1. I only discovered the arrow thing on the gas gauge, like, last year or something.

    My dad’s old Ford pick-up truck didn’t have a problem so much with the cover flap – more of it was a problem getting the gas cap to unscrew. Once, I had to ask a complete stranger to help me. That was back when I was still inexperienced with vehicles, so it might be different now.

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