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Car Hire San Francisco - Hiring a Car in San Francisco

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While in some ways hiring a car in San Francisco is similar to other cities, in other ways it is a different experience. Similarities include insurance and age restrictions. It is best to consider the type and size of car one needs, as well as the insurability and age of the driver, before looking for a car to hire. San Francisco has very strict parking regulations, and even laws restricting vehicle size in some parts of the city.

Almost anyone who has rented a car in the United States has experienced the frustration of add-on insurance sales. If one does not carry liability insurance in one’s home state, the car-hiring firms in San Francisco can refuse to rent one a car. Some states do not include rental cars under their collision/comprehensive coverage, so updating insurance coverage before traveling is recommended. It costs over 20 dollars a day more to use the comprehensive/collision coverage the rental companies offer. One should consider the collision damage waiver, however. When purchased along with the rental fee, the damage waiver protects the driver from unexpected damage. This could range from scratches incurred in parking garages to losing a piece of the car body on a poorly designed driveway.

The best coverage in the state will not keep prices down if a party plans on using more than one driver or has drivers under the age of 25. Because insurance statistics show younger drivers are more easily distracted and have more accidents, car rental agencies can charge more for them to drive. The more drivers a vehicle has insured shows the higher the chance of an accident as well. Paying the add-on fees is important if one plans to share the driving duties. Citations for unsanctioned drivers, not to mention penalties from the car companies, can be quite steep.

The State of California has very strict seat belt laws. There must be a seat and belt for every passenger. For families traveling with young children, car-hiring agencies have child protection seats available. The law requires any child under the age of six or weighing less than 60 pounds be belted into one of these protective seats. They keep the child from being injured by shoulder harnesses that are too large for them. Families may use their own if they can prove it complies with safety regulations and that someone in the family knows how to install it properly.

Once drivers and insurance are settled, it is time to consider the type and style of car to hire. Economy cars tend to comfortably hold only three or four people and only one suitcase per person. For small parties they are ideal because they are legally allowed in some of the most beautiful sections of the city. Larger cars, like sedans and SUVs, do seat more passengers and hold more suitcases, but will not be allowed in some areas. The best example is Dunbar Street. It is a famously winding street that requires a small car with good handling potential to keep from blocking other drivers. San Francisco has a “grid-lock” law with a hefty fine for those who keep traffic from flowing easily.

Another thing to consider when planning one’s trip to San Francisco is the limited parking. Some car-hiring agencies will provide guaranteed parking places at popular tourist attractions, like Fisherman’s Wharf or Ghirardelli Square which make those visits much more pleasurable. If one does not make arrangements for guaranteed parking, tourist area parking meters are restricted to two hours. Police will drive by and mark the tires of every car. In two hours, they come back through and issue citations. Even rolling the car back and putting more money in the meter is not effective since the police will note the license tag of the vehicle and identifying markers like car rental stickers. When in doubt, leave the car at the hotel and use a tourist bus for some destinations.

San Francisco is a beautiful city to drive in. Its streets maintain the charm of their 19th century design. By hiring a car that suits the visiting party and the city, tourists can have fond memories of their time in the City by the Bay.

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