Borrowing a car from someone can be extremely convenient, but it also comes with important responsibilities. When you borrow a car, you are temporarily using an asset that does not belong to you. Therefore, it is crucial that you treat the car with the utmost care and respect.
Follow these rules to ensure you are being a thoughtful and responsible car borrower:
Get Permission and Confirm Details
First and foremost, you need to get explicit permission from the owner before borrowing their car. Do not assume it is okay, always ask. When asking, specify the dates and times you would like to borrow the vehicle. This allows the owner to confirm their availability.
Discuss any restrictions the owner may have. Are there limitations on mileage or locations you can drive to? Should you avoid certain roads or highways? Are there any parking rules? By addressing these details upfront, you avoid misunderstandings later.
Confirm you are insured to drive the car. If not, you may need to purchase temporary coverage. This protects both you and the owner.
Exchange contact information so you can easily communicate throughout the borrowing period. Share phone numbers, email addresses, etc.
Pick up and return the car at the agreed times. Being punctual shows respect for the owner’s schedule.
inspect the Car Thoroughly
When you first get the car, take time to inspect its current condition. Look for any existing damage, scratches, wear and tear. Check tire pressure and fluid levels. Turn on all lights and test electronics.
Note any issues so you are not blamed later for pre-existing defects. Have the owner sign off on your inspection sheet. This protects you from liability.
Take clear photos of the car from all angles, capturing its current state. Reference these later when returning the vehicle to show no new damage occurred.
Follow All Rules of the Road
When driving a borrowed car, it is critical that you follow all traffic laws and safe driving practices. Any traffic tickets or penalties incurred are your full responsibility.
Obey all posted speed limits and traffic signs/signals. Even minor violations like rolling stops can get you in trouble. Drive less aggressively than you would your own car.
Do not drink any alcohol before driving the borrowed vehicle. Even one drink puts you at risk for a DUI. A DUI in someone else’s car has severe legal and financial consequences.
Avoid distractions like mobile phones that take your eyes off the road. Focus fully on driving. Pull over safely if you need to text, make calls, check maps/GPS, etc.
Leave space between you and other cars. Tailgating increases the risk of accidents. Give yourself ample room to brake slowly and avoid hazards.
Take Precautions to Avoid Theft
Someone was trusting enough to lend you their car. Take measures to protect it when parked:
- Lock all doors and close all windows, even if leaving it for a few minutes.
- Park in well-lit areas if driving at night. Avoid dark/isolated spots.
- Do not leave valuables in the car unattended. This attracts thieves.
- Activate any anti-theft devices installed in the car. Set the alarm, steering wheel lock, etc.
- If equipped, use OnStar or another tracking service to help locate the vehicle if stolen.
Maintain the Car Properly
When borrowing a car, you have an obligation to maintain it well throughout the loan period:
- Check engine oil and fluids regularly. Top up if needed.
- Fill the gas tank before returning it, at a minimum. It is even better to return it full.
- Wash the car if you drove long distances or if it got dirty.
- Check tire pressures and re-inflate as needed. Look for damage or wear.
- Look for warning lights indicating issues. Have them checked promptly.
- Report any mechanical problems early. Do not ignore unusual sounds/sensations.
- Keep the interior clean. Remove trash, debris, pet hair. Vacuum carpet/seats.
Have Insurance and Documentation Ready
Before driving off, double check you have the proper insurance card and documentation:
- Driver’s license – Have your valid license with you when driving.
- Insurance card – Carry proof of current insurance for the borrowed vehicle.
- Registration – Keep the updated registration card in the glove compartment.
- Service records – Owner should provide recent maintenance invoices.
- Emergency contacts – Have phone numbers to call if any issues arise.
Avoid fines and penalties by having these documents accessible in the car at all times.
Return the Car on Time, as Received
Finally, be considerate when returning the borrowed car:
- Review the inspection sheet from when you picked it up. Verify the car is in the same condition.
- Top up the gas tank and wash the car, if needed. Return it in equal or better shape.
- Remove all personal items and debris from the car. Take out any items you added.
- Park the car where originally picked up, unless otherwise arranged.
- Return keys, paperwork, garage remotes, parking passes, etc.
- Thank the owner sincerely for the privilege of borrowing their car.
Following these rules shows appreciation for the owner’s generosity. It also ensures you can borrow cars hassle-free in the future. Being a responsible borrower leads to greater trust and goodwill.