Before hiring out your vehicle, you must make sure it is roadworthy. Your vehicle should have an up to date MOT and a full service history. Do not hire out your vehicle if it fails to meet one of the conditions below.
1. Tyre condition and pressure
Having under-inflated or worn tyres reduces vehicle roadholding, and increases the braking distance, as well as the risk of aquaplaning and punctures.
- How often? Check your tyre pressure once a month.
- How? Go to a service station equipped with standard tyre inflator equipment. Unscrew the tyre valve cap (the valve is the short tube that protrudes from the rim), then attach the pressure gauge to the valve. Measure the pressure of each of the four tyres. If the measurements match the manufacturer recommendations (which can usually be found on the driver’s door frame or in the owner’s manual), the pressure is perfect. If not, reinflate the tyres, ensuring that you do not exceed the maximum pressure (indicated on the sidewall of the tyre).
Important: Check tyre pressure when the tyres are cold. If this is not possible, add 4 psi to the pressure recommended by the manufacturer. NB: The recommended pressure might be different for the front and rear tyres. If your vehicle is equipped with a spare tyre or space-saver tyre, don't forget to check the pressure of that tyre too. Otherwise, ensure you have tyre puncture sealant in the boot.
- How often? A tyre has an average service life of around 20,000 miles, but that depends on how your vehicle is used.
How? Start by checking the general condition of your tyres (look for cracks, nicks, embedded objects, etc.). Then check the wear of the tyre using the Tread Wear Indicators (TWI). You can find them by looking for a triangle, the brand logo or 'TWI' on the sidewall of the tyre. They are small raised bumps in the tyre grooves or pattern that are moulded into the tread. When the tread surface is level with these bumps, this means that the tyres are worn and must be changed. The minimum required tread depth is 1.6 mm. Make sure you check all four tyres carefully, as the rear tyres can wear more slowly than the front tyres. If the front tyres are wearing unevenly, have the alignment checked. This also applies to the rear tyres.
(Locating the Tyre Wear Indicators)
2. Shock absorbers
The shock absorbers keep the vehicle stable and absorb bumps or dips in the road. Having worn shock absorbers increases your braking distance.
- How often? Check them for traces of liquid every 15,000 to 20,000 miles.
3. Lights and indicators
- Checks to perform: main-beam headlights, dipped-beam headlights, position lights, fog lights, reversing lights (get someone to help you), hazard lights, indicators, dashboard lighting, and finally the number-plate lighting. Also check the alignment of your headlights: position your vehicle 600 mm from a wall and check that the light projected onto the wall is correctly aligned.
- NB: It is almost impossible to predict when bulbs will stop working, so keep a box of spare bulbs and fuses in your glovebox, just in case. It is recommended that you change bulbs in pairs to avoid differences in performance.
4. Braking system
There are several elements to check on the braking system: the brake pads and brake discs. If you notice one of the following signs, you must have your braking system checked immediately: your car swerves to the left or right when you brake, the brake pedal feels too hard or too soft, your brakes make a grinding noise or your steering wheel vibrates when you brake.
- The brake disc is the technical component used to slow down the wheel and thereby stop the vehicle.
- Check them around every 30,000 miles.
- Change the brake discs immediately if you detect a problem (scuffed, cracked, broken discs, etc.) or when they wear down to the minimum thickness (indicated in your vehicle owner’s manual).
- NB: If you change your brake discs, you must also change your brake pads.
- Check them around every 15,000 miles (the brake pads wear more quickly and need to be changed more often than the brake discs).
- When the dashboard wear warning light comes on (see image below), this means that your brake pads are too worn. On vehicles without a wear warning light, you need to check the thickness of the brake pad lining regularly. When this is less than 3 mm you must have your brake pads replaced.
The level of the brake fluid is also a good indicator of the condition of your brake pads: as the pads wear down, the fluid level decreases.
(Warning lights for wear and brake fluid)
5. Don't forget to check...
- Any maintenance operations recommended by the manufacturer, like changing the timing belt.
- The condition of the windscreen: have it repaired or replaced in the event of impact.
- The level of the brake fluid, coolant, engine oil, screenwash and power steering fluid.
- The condition of the windscreen wipers: they should not smear, and need to be changed twice a year.
- The condition and fastenings of the rear-view and wing mirrors.
- That your horn works correctly.
- That you have a spare wheel or tyre puncture sealant: these are compulsory.
If you have doubts about the reliability of your car, you should decline rentals.