Rental vehicle companies provide you with the option to choose different vehicles to suit your needs. Rental companies have fleets of vehicles that contain sub-compact through luxury full-size cars, compact through premium sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and passenger vans.
Four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicles are usually rented for several reasons:
- To handle adverse road conditions and harsh weather driving conditions
- To haul cargo or tow a trailer
- To handle travel on gravel or dirt roads
Rental vehicle fleets usually have options when it comes to choosing four-wheel drive vehicles. They will have many different models of SUVs and trucks in their fleets that are equipped with four-wheel drive. Here’s what you need to know before you rent a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Part 1 of 3: Check the age requirements for SUV and truck rentals
Most rental agencies have limitations on the types of vehicles you can rent if you are under a certain age. These requirements help the rental agency minimize damages to their fleet vehicles that are typically caused by inexperienced or over-ambitious drivers.
Step 1: Find the age requirements. Find out the age requirements to rent a four-wheel drive vehicle.
The qualifications to rent a four-wheel drive vehicle will be the same as those required to rent trucks and SUVs.
Step 2: Check online. Check online for the age limit requirements for rental companies such as Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis.
- Note: The standard age limit to rent an SUV is generally 25 years of age and older.
Step 3: Check if there is a daily surcharge. If you are 21-24 years old, you may be able to rent a four-wheel drive SUV or truck subject to a daily surcharge, but this depends on individual branch and rental agency policies.
Part 2 of 3: Check the availability of four-wheel drive vehicles
Each branch or location of any rental company has a different assortment of vehicles available to rent, depending on the location and clientele.
If a vehicle is in high demand, there may be more of them in the fleet. If a vehicle doesn’t get rented very often at all, it likely will not be available at that particular branch.
Step 1: Reserve a 4WD vehicle online. Complete an online reservation for an SUV or truck rental.
On the vehicle rental company’s website, go through the steps to rent an SUV or truck on your desired travel date.
- Tip: The vehicle listing may not include information about whether it is a four-wheel drive or a two-wheel drive vehicle. Choose full-size or premium SUV or truck models which are likely to have four-wheel drive.
Complete the online reservation process and note down the reservation number.
Call the branch and indicate you want to rent a four-wheel drive vehicle, giving the reservation number for reference. The agent will confirm availability of four-wheel drive vehicles for your reservation.
Step 2: Contact the rental agency. Call the branch directly for rental information.
Contact one of the major rental companies for your four-wheel drive rental as independent rental companies are less likely to carry premium models with 4WD. If the branch doesn’t have 4WD vehicles, contact another rental company or branch until you find one that does.
Indicate your request for a four-wheel drive vehicle to a branch representative. You’ll probably have to confirm your age to be eligible to book a 4WD SUV or truck rental.
Complete the reservation over the phone with the agent, ensuring you get a confirmation or booking number for your reservation.
Part 3 of 3: Complete the rental process
Step 1: Go to the rental agency office. Ensure that you reach the rental vehicle office before the time of your rental booking.
Be a little early in case there is a line to see the agent.
Step 2: Present your identification and credit card. Bring your driver’s license and credit card, both of which are required to rent a premium vehicle such as a four-wheel drive.
Bring your reservation number or confirmation email to make the rental go smoother.
Step 3: Complete the rental contract. When it’s your turn, the agent will take a copy of your driver’s license to confirm your ID and to confirm your age to rent an SUV or truck.
While the reservation should have your request for a four-wheel drive vehicle, remind the agent politely that you booked a 4WD vehicle.
Step 4: Pay the security fee. Provide your credit card for the security hold for your rental.
Without a credit card, you may not be able to rent an SUV or truck. You may be able to downgrade to an economy car with a deposit and credit check, but may not be able to rent out any vehicle with 4WD.
Drive the four-wheel drive vehicle responsibly while it’s in your possession. If you return the SUV with mechanical problems or physical damage associated with excessive off-road or abusive use, you may be fined or even banned from renting premium vehicles in the future or banned from renting from that company altogether.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Rent a 4WD Vehicle and was authored by Jason Unrau.