Full Tank Or Fees: The Rental Car Gas Dilemma

  • By: pdstamp
  • Date: January 18, 2023

When visiting Orlando and Disney World, you may need to rent a car.

This leads to the question of whether you have to return a rental car with a full tank of gas or not.

Rental car companies expect you to return the vehicle with the same amount of gas that was in it when you first rented the vehicle. In many cases, this is a full tank of gas. If you don’t fill the tank up in advance or make arrangements ahead of time, they will fill the tank for you and charge you a premium.

There are so many different questions about returning a vehicle with a full tank of gas. Quite honestly, the technology that is available today is getting better and better and it helps the rental company determine if the tank is actually full or not.

The best option you have available is to refill the tank just before you get back to the airport. There are gas stations in the area that provide this service and the prices are compatible with gas prices in other areas of Orlando.

There are also some other options that we will consider in this article as well. One of those is making arrangements in advance for them to fill up the vehicle for you. Is this a good option?

Many people appreciate the convenience of having the vehicle filled up for them and most rental car companies will do so at a competitive price per gallon. That being said, others appreciate the option of taking control of the fill-up on their own.

What Does It Mean To Prepay For Gas On A Rental Car?

One option that many rental car companies offer today is to prepay for gas. What does this mean and is it a good choice?

The option to prepay for gas on a rental vehicle is essentially freeing you of the need to fill the tank before you return and drop off the rental vehicle. You can bring it back at any fuel level you like, and the rental company will fill it up at a competitive price to local prices. Other rental car companies charge for a full tank of gas, regardless of the level when you return the vehicle.

There are some reasons why you may want to consider this and why you might want to think about filling up the tank on your own. What are some of the pros and cons of this service?

Options – Rental car companies will charge you for a full tank of gas, regardless of the level you return it. You need to read the fine print before deciding on this service, because it may end up costing you more.

Then again, if you are bringing the vehicle back with only a gallon of gas in it, it may be worth the extra money you spend. That being said, if you run into traffic or any other problems, that gallon of gas can go away very quickly.

Cost – Although many rental car companies will charge you a competitive price compared to local fuel prices, they are still going to make money on it. They may even have a premium charge for the convenience of prepaying for fuel.

In the end, if you are not somebody that rushes in at the last second, you may just want to fill up the tank at a local gas station before bringing the vehicle back. It’s the least expensive option that doesn’t come with a lot of possible downfalls.

What Happens If You Return A Rental Car With Less Gas?

There are always going to be those who try to cheat the system and bring back a vehicle with less gas than when they started. What will a rental car company do if you bring back the vehicle at less than full?

If you agreed to bring back a rental vehicle with a full tank and it comes back with less than a full tank, you will be charged a premium to fill the vehicle. This premium may be up to three times the amount that you would pay to simply fill the vehicle up on your own at a local gas station.

There are certain rental car companies that don’t ask you to fill the vehicle up on your way back. What they ask is for the vehicle to be returned with the same amount of fuel that was in it when it left the lot. This could be a 1/2 or 3/4-full tank, depending on how much was left by the previous renter.

You need to make sure that this is spelled out specifically in the rental agreement. You should then make sure that you actually fill it to that level or that you run the gas out to that level so you aren’t paying extra, which really benefits nobody.

What Happens If You Return A Rental Car With More Gas?

The opposite may also be true that you sometimes may return the rental car with more gas that was in it than when you left. What happens if you do so?

A rental car company is not going to reimburse you for any extra gas that is in the vehicle. If you bring it back with more gas than when you left, it will simply be reset to that level for the next rental.

If the rental car company you use wants you to return the vehicle full, make sure that the tank is full when you leave. If it is less than full, either have them notate it on the contract or have them fill up the tank before you leave.

What Is Considered A Full Tank When Returning A Rental Car?

Some people may wonder what constitutes a full tank for a rental car. Is there something specific they are looking for when you return the vehicle?

The gas gauges in most vehicles are not accurate enough to give you very specific information on how much fuel is in the vehicle. For the most part, there will be a clause in the contract that specifies you fill-up the tank within a certain distance of the rental site, such as five or 10 miles.

That being said, if you refill the vehicle 20 miles away, they are not likely to catch you in the act, so to speak. They are looking for people who are really trying to buck the system and get away with coming in far below a full tank.

Then again, the extra 10 miles is only going to save you a few cents so it’s worth the effort just to fill the tank close to the airport and on your way in to drop off the vehicle.

Hit Share For A Magical Day!

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!