We’ve been writing a ton of road trip tips and tips about renting cars lately. Because so few people are traveling by air due to the pandemic and more and more people are taking road trips, these tips are relevant for a lot of you.
Yesterday, we ran a tip about checking the VIN number on your car rental. Read more about why here. A reader named Jeff wrote in with an addition to that tip, which I thought would be helpful for all of you.
“More important than looking up the VIN. Always check the registration expiration tab to see it is current. I have been stopped once and in my previous life, I’ve stopped a few vehicles that had expired registrations and they were rented. Save some time delays!”
This is a great point. You may or may not get ticketed for having expired stickers on your license plate but just the act of getting pulled over is a hassle and can take up valuable time that you may not have to spare.
Over on the Flyertalk forums, someone asked the following:
When I rented my car in Michigan from Hertz in July, I was told if a cop pulls me over to just provide them the rental agreement and I’d be good to go.
I got pulled over yesterday for that specific reason. The cop said registration and insurance were expired and he gave me a ticket, and that I have to go to court to show documentation in order to remove the ticket. He said I’d have to sort it out with Hertz. I am livid. Why does Hertz provide me an expired registration to begin with? The whole inconvenience is extremely frustrating, and it’s on a weekend where Hertz is closed in my area.
I’m going tomorrow to Hertz to sort it out. What compensation and what am I to do in such case?
You can read the full thread here.
Another thread on the Flyertalk forums that might be of interest is this one, where someone asked:
Hey Guys —
I rented a car this morning at BWI. After arriving at my destination I was getting my things and noticed the registration expired in August (5 months ago…?!?). I’m going to return the car tonight and get a new one. What type of comp (if any) should I expect for the hassle of having to return / pick up a new vehicle?
You can read that thread here.
One of our readers (Lori P.) just sent over a similar tip but she didn’t get any compensation. “Hi Johnny,
This was a first for me when renting a car at Denver international airport. I rented my car, checked for dings and took a few photos. The car was in great shape. Two days into my stay in Fort Collins I got a parking ticket for expired license plates. I continued to get a ticket each day totaling 3. I then started parking a mile away from my hotel in a more residential area and walked to the hotel just to avoid getting more tickets. The rental car company said I’m not responsible but next time I rent a car I will check the license plates as well as all the other things to check. Wanted to share. Thanks, Lori”
–8 Tips For an Epic Road Trip
–7 Ways to Save Money on a Road Trip
–How to Protect Your Belongings on a Road Trip
–Kevin Costner’s Road Trip App You’ll Want to Download
–Travel Tip: Car Trunk Caution
Not only the tag/plate (depending on where you are in the US will depend on which one used), but also check the yearly inspection sticker required in some states. I recently had a rental with Commonwealth of Virginia (VA) legalities and did transit through VA, although I did not rent the car in VA. The plate was valid but the emissions/safety sticker was expiring that month. I was at a Wawa getting petrol and a local policeman kindly reminded me I haf about a week to get the inspection complete.
Moral of the story – The Fed prints money but car rental companies and state governments do not. Both will do whatever it takes to get and keep as much of that Fed paper as is humanly possible, damned the people squashed in the process.