If you are planning to hire a car this half term be clear on the rental company's fuel policy, as increasingly consumers are finding themselves paying over the odds for a tank of petrol on arrival, when they thought this was included in the original price, or being expected to bring back an empty tank when they're only driving on a small Spanish island.

A new YouGov survey, commissioned by iCarhireinsurance.com, the leading provider of stand-alone car hire excess insurance, found that nearly half (47%) of hire car drivers have had a fuel related issue when hiring a car.

  • One in nine (12%) have been asked to pay for a tank of fuel when they collected the hire car when they thought it was included (and 15% knew they wouldn't be able to use all the petrol). Paying on average £50* a tank, the hire car deal may not be such a good deal after all especially with most rental desks charging significantly more than the local fuel price.**
  • One in five (19%) have been asked to return the car with an empty tank but have been unable to do so, so are paying for unwanted petrol.
  • One in seven (15%) were also unsure if they needed to return the car with the tank full or empty. If a full tank is required, but the car is returned without one, drivers can be charged up to £100.*** Some rental companies are now fining customers if they cannot provide a refuelling receipt from a petrol station proving that they refuelled the vehicle, even if the gauge is on full.
  • One in seven (14%) have been unsure if the car took petrol or diesel. It costs around £300**** to professionally drain and refill a tank if dealt with immediately, but if the engine is turned on and the car driven, the cost to repair the engine damage can be as much as £5,000*****. iCarhireinsurance provides up to £1,000 towards the costs of rectifying miss fuelling errors on its policies.

Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of iCarhireinsurance.com said: “Make sure when booking your hire car that you check the fuel policy. There are some great hire car deals available, but if you have to pay for a tank of fuel when you arrive, especially if you're not going to be able to use it all, it may not be such a great deal after all. Modern cars can do over 600 miles on a full tank, which is more than four times around Ibiza for instance.”

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All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,404 adults, 1,013 of which have rented a car. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th - 28th April 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

The 47% figures is based on the result that 45% said they had never had any of the fuel issues we highlighted to them, and 8% said that they don’t know or could not recall if they had any of them, therefore 47% have had one of the fuel issue happen to them.

* £50 is based on the iCarhireinsurance.com 12 country study research into the costs of hiring a car **£62 for a tank in Ibiza when the local price is £45 – based on Sunday Times article. *** Telegraph 2013 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travel-advice/9943052/Car-hire-refuelling-charges.html **** According to the AA ***** BIBA 2007 210Km around Ibiza – according to - http://www.ibiza.islasbaleares.com/en/isla.html

Disclaimer: All prices contained in this article were correct on the original date of publication. Prices may change over time, so for current prices, please get a quote.