How To Borrow a Car Without Borrowing Trouble

There are times when mass transit or hoofing it just won’t do. Here’s how to borrow a car and save everyone’s sanity.

car-key-842107_1280Let’s face it. Services such as Uber and ZipCar are expensive or non-existent in some communities. If you’re staring down the barrel of a job interview or an important appointment, borrowing a car can help you arrive in style and on time with very little cash outlay.

Here’s how to borrow a car and keep everyone’s sanity intact:

Choose wisely: You stand a much better chance of scoring a borrowed car from someone who knows you well.

Be specific: Instead of “May I borrow the car on Tuesday?” try “May I borrow the car on Tuesday for a 2:30 job interview?” That demonstrates you respect the other person’s time and gives them an idea as to how long you’ll have the car.

Don’t be funky: Don’t eat or drink in the car. Some food smells can nauseate people. Same goes for strong fragrances or colognes. Leave them at home.

Offer to do a walk-around: Make note of any paint damage or windshield cracks. Ask about use of the audio system and ask for a quick demo of any tech suites you’re not familiar with.

Better yet, put things in writing.

Be polite: Be on your best driving behavior. If you’ve been without a car for a long period of time, it’s tempting to wring that car out for all it’s worth. Don’t do it. It’s not worth the possible ticket and bad blood later on.

Drive the car around the block to get used to its handling and brakes before hitting the open road.

Offer something in return: Offer cash for gas or replace the fuel you used.

Offer to dog-walk or babysit for the car owner in exchange if money is an issue. Agree on this up front before you use the car.

Leave it better than you found it: The old camping rule applies to cars as well as the Great Outdoors. Leave no trace.

Even if you’re borrowing a car from a family member or your best friend, treat the car like gold  even if it’s a beater.  Pick up after yourself and discard any wrappers, cups or other detritus before you return the car.

The other aspects of your relationship may be more fun and  relaxed, but borrowing someone’s car is a business transaction.

If you’re transporting a sick person or pet, make sure you get permission to do so. “Abby yakked all over the back seat..sorry!” is something no one wants to hear.

Borrowing a car for a key appointment is a sure bet for arriving stress-free and on time. Borrowing a car and treating it like a professional transaction will preserve your relationship with the car’s owner.

Who knows? You may be able to use the car again in the future. Sure beats transit or hoofing it.


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