Here’s how to avoid the pitfalls of lending your car to someone while keeping your sanity intact
As anyone with a pick-up can tell you, lending your vehicle is a tough call to make. Can you trust the person borrowing your car or truck not to thrash it? What about liability? What if their pet yaks all over the back seat?
You’d still like to help just the same. Here’s how to lend your car without losing your mind or the relationship.
If in doubt, don’t do it. Simple. It’s hard to say no to a friend or family member, but if you’re in doubt about lending your car to someone, don’t do it. No explanation needed.
Set limits. It’s your car, so you call the shots. If the thought of kids in your ride gives you pause, put your foot down. Same goes for pets or even any additional passengers. Personally, I had no problem lending out my car to anyone, but I drew the line at having fast food or small kids in my car.
What about liability? Since insurance laws vary by state and carrier, it’s best to give your insurance agent a call. Clear this in advance so there will be no nasty surprises should there be an accident. Insurance laws vary by state.
If the driver carries their own insurance, you could be off the hook if the driver is involved in an accident. All the better reason to have a heart-to-heart with your insurance company.
What about the driver? You don’t want to lend your car to anyone who has a revoked or suspended license for any reason. End of story. Same goes for moving violations or accidents.
Give the driver a walk-around. Show them where you stash the registration and insurance information, owner’s manual, roadside assistance number and other essential information about the car.
Explain any quirks the car may have. My old Volvo had a rogue “check engine” light that would randomly come on for no good reason. Whenever I lent the car to anyone, I’d make it point to tell them that.
Better yet, offer to ride shotgun while the lendee takes the car for a quick “get acquainted” spin.
Get it in writing. Depending on your relationship with the other person, putting things in writing is a big help. You’ll eliminate any miscommunication regarding the use of your car. I had no problem lending my car to friends, but I was clear on two things: no fast food in the car, no small children (I had a friend’s carsick kiddo yak all over my backseat. Lesson learned).
Lending your car to someone you know can get them out of a jam, especially if they’re tight on cash. Ride-hailing and car-sharing apps can be expensive or non-existent in some parts of the country.
Before you agree to lend your car to someone, save your sanity by checking with your insurance company, vetting the driver, performing a walk-around and putting everything in writing. You’ll keep the relationship intact as well as your peace of mind.