Top 7 mistakes to avoid while renting a self-drive car in Guwahati
Updated: Feb 12, 2020
Are you thinking to rent a car in Guwahati for your upcoming adventure? Make sure you do not make these mistakes.
It's planning time for a new trip, and you're excited. A new journey awaits. You're preparing for your upcoming vacay, and you decide to hire a car on rent for self-drive in Guwahati. You might be travelling alone or with your family but you must remember that you are going to make many memories in the car. Cars are not just a means of transport, but for the many, they are tools of exploration and a way to experience freedom. Still, most importantly, they are fun to play with. This brings us to point number one:
1) Choosing the wrong car.
The northeastern region of India is full of unexplored paths, and these paths can lead to many mind-blowing destinations. These paths, although beautiful, aren't friendly.
If the destination of your choice has a paved road that is in good condition, you can choose to rent a Sedan or a Hatchback which will give you the most mileage possible. You can zip through traffic in no time. Easy to park and easy to drive.
On the other hand, if you know the road is not going to be smooth and there unpaved roads or slightly broken roads, you will need something with higher ground clearance. For the highways that aren't in the best of its condition, a compact SUV could be a great choice. It will come with the flexibility of a hatchback with the ground clearance and power of an SUV. Well, not as powerful as an SUV, but it gets the job done. So you're sorted.
But if you're planning to drive to Tawang or maybe Menchuka or any place where the roads are going to be scary, broken, muddy and unpaved, you're gonna need an SUV. The ground clearance that the SUV will offer will be crucial in those bad roads. You need more torque to climb up those rocky and muddy terrains, and only an SUV can provide you with the stability and power required. Added to the equation, the fact that SUVs are rear-wheel drive, it becomes a no-brainer to choose one because a rear-wheel-drive system offers better traction and handling of power.
Some cars for you to keep an eye on:
Popular Sedans and Hatchbacks that are great in its class: Maruti Suzuki Swift DZire, Maruti Suzuki Swift, Hyundai i10, Hyundai i20 and Ford Figo, to name a few.
In the section of Compact SUV, Ford Ecoport and Honda WRV are both excellent choices. Maruti Suzuki Vitara Breeza is a right choice too if you want to compromise on fun for some better mileage. Hyundai Creta might be the most comfortable among all the three.
If SUV is your choice then you can't go wrong with a Mahindra Scorpio or an XUV 500.
So, you've decided on your car of choice, and now you start searching for a car rental in Guwahati that rents that particular car and that it's available at your trip dates. This gets us to point number two.
2) Picking the wrong car rental service.
Now, this is as important as choosing the right car for your trip or sometimes even more so. You have to be sure that the car rental is a reputed one that has the availability and the manpower to support you throughout your journey. Look for these things carefully while selecting the best car rental for your needs.
The car rental should have excellent ratings (4.5 or higher) on Google Maps with a good number of reviews (above 1000 if possible). High Ratings in Google Maps usually show how good a local business is in delivering its services to its customers.
The car rental should provide Road Side Assistance. No matter how prepared you are for the trip, somethings might go sideways, or your car might face some mechanical issues which are very common in bad roads. You have to be sure that the car rental company can back you up in such situations.
Make sure that the car rental company has a corporate office or is a proper establishment that knows and does its job pretty well. One which takes responsibility for its actions. If you are willing to rent a car in Guwahati, you've got a lot of options. Still, when it comes down to picking the best, you can't go wrong with "Ahija Self Drive Car Rentals Guwahati".
The once local start-up that now is a fully-fledged company has a rating of 4.5 in Google Maps with over 2000+ reviews. It provides free Road Side Assistance and now is well over 40 employees strong. It's the best alternative to Zoomcar in Northeast India and is performing much better than Zoomcar Guwahati. Mostly because of its budget pricing, superior service and for its expertise in Northeast India. Ahija's car rental prices in Guwahati are much lower than that of Zoomcar and has no speed and distance limits on its cars.
3) Not having the right car accessories with you on your road trip.
I have compiled this list with just the essentials so it won't be too long. These accessories may be things that you already know and use, but you mustn't forget to carry them on a road trip.
a) Car Charger.
Most cars have a USB port these days that you can use to charge your mobile phone on the go, but those aren't fast enough. It's always better to keep a fast-charging car charger handy because you are going to use your phone a lot either for navigation or for photography.
b) An AUX Cable.
Old school but always handy. Most cars come with a Bluetooth infotainment system these days, but what if the vehicle you've selected or its model doesn't have a Bluetooth media player. You're gonna be missing your songs the whole trip.
c) A mobile car mount.
Google Navigation Directions. No matter where you're going, you will always benefit from using Google Maps, even if you know the way. A car mount can be of great handy which will hold your phone in place, and you can use your phone as the second infotainment screen for navigation and music as well.
a) A car towel.
You spilt a cold drink, or you might need to wipe up the blurry windshield. Yes, there's a wiper for that but not always can the wiper do its job well, especially if there's something sticky on your windshield. Insects are pretty common in the Northeastern state of Assam where you will be driving through vast open regions. Insects will stick to your windshield, and your wiper will only worsen the situation.
d) A neck pillow.
A neck pillow is a specially designed pillow that supports your neck and head in a natural position. This can be of great help in long hours of driving or sitting in the car.
4. Not having offline Google Maps on your phone.
Firstly, I can't stress enough about the usefulness of Google Maps on a road trip. Google Maps is your ultimate companion, whether you know your way around or not. You will get valuable suggestions about places to stop like petrol pumps and roadside dhabas on the map. You are gonna know about traffic congestions and even fastest alternative routes if any. This will not only help you explore more ways but also help you make it to your BnB on time.
In the states of Northeast India, where the roads are long and wild, there will be many places where you will be out of the network coverage area. You won't get 4G/3G or even cell tower coverage in some areas. In such situations, having Google Maps offline can be a lifesaver. It's pretty easy to save a map offline. Google Maps is pre-installed in almost all android phones, but if you carry an iPhone, you can download the Google Maps app from the App Store if you do not have it already.
How to save offline maps in the Google Maps App?
a) Open the Google Maps App on your phone and open the hamburger menu (Click on the upper left menu icon).
b) Click on "Offline maps" and then select the area you want to download. Make sure you get the complete area you would be travelling through including your destination inside your selection rectangle. Hit download.
c) Do this 3 to 4 days before starting the trip and make sure you do this while you still have a network. You can't take the cell network for granted when travelling to remote destinations of northeast India (Menchuka for example).
You're now set. Even if you lose network during your trip, you will still have all the maps and navigational functionalities you would require while driving.
Notes: Keep in mind that offline google maps are only usable for 30 days after the day you've downloaded or last updated them.
5) Lack of car tools and basic automobile knowledge.
A simple toolkit with the necessary essential tools like wrenches, spanners, tweezers and L-Key Sets go a long way. Very useful if you need to clean your air filter mid-journey or replace a fuse. Regarding basic automobile knowledge, visual training is the best tool. Watch some youtube videos on the topics like checking the engine oil quantity, coolant and brake pads of a car. Do these checks on the vehicle that you're renting before starting your journey. Usually, any professional car rental service in Guwahati will do these basic pre-checks and more before handing over the car to you. But remember, in the automobile world, nothing is 100% fail-safe, and a lot depends on you.
An unpaved road or a lousy bump might do more harm sometimes than what you would typically believe. If the radiator gets hit by any debris or stone, it might even leak your coolant without which your engine will overheat. Always keep an eye on your engine temperature warnings if any and make sure to give your car time to breathe. If you see an overheat warning, take a halt, wait for the car to cool down and once you have given the car a good 20-30 minutes of break, check your coolant level. (Do this with much caution as hot coolant will get you burnt if you try to open the coolant cap without letting your car cooldown).
A car tyre inflator can be very convenient at times. It has helped me on numerous road trips where I got two of my tyres punctured and having no spare tyre left, I could have been stranded on the road. But I wasn't. I always had my tyre inflator with the help of which I kept refilled the air in a punctured tyre every 30 minutes and kept moving forward until I could find a puncture shop. Of course, this won't work if the tyre has suffered significant damage, but that happens very rarely.
Always pay proper attention to how your car is performing when you're making long-distance road trips. This will keep you informed, and you will get an appropriate sense of what's going on with your vehicle. Keep an eye out for the changes in performance, sudden mileage drops and watch the fuel levels. Do not forget to add a flashlight into the toolkit. Do not depend on your mobile's flashlight all the time because it depletes your mobile battery quite fast and it isn't that powerful.
Basic automobile knowledge will prevent most of the typical automobile failures on the road and keep you confident on your drive. Most importantly, be safe and prepared rather than sorry.
6) Not having a travel medical kit.
This is very essential in any road trip. In fact, a medical kit with the right medicines can be a lifesaver at times. A few pain killers, pain relief sprays, nausea/vomiting medications, acetazolamide pills and gas relief tablets are some essential travel medications to carry.
Most special destinations in Northeast India are located at high-altitude regions. So you need to be prepared for it. If you have asthma or any other respiratory illness, do not forget to add your prescribed pills and throw in a few extra asthalin inhalers into the medical kit. I've already mentioned high-altitude sickness medications (acetazolamide pills).
A well-thought-out travel medical kit is something you must never forget on a long adventurous road trip.
7. Taking the fuel stations for granted.
Even if you are a frequent traveller, Northeast India is a very different ball game. Here the destinations are splendid but they are far. The roads are wild and deserted. While travelling to places like Dong Valley (Arunachal Pradesh), Menchuka (Arunachal Pradesh), Dzukou Valley (Nagaland) and many more, there will be long stretches of road without any fuel stations and you might need to buy fuel from local shops selling diesel/petrol in bottles and containers.
I have been on so many road trips to the best and the furthest regions of Northeast India that I can assure you about one fact. You have to keep your car fuel at maximum levels. Refill your car wherever possible because you might not get the next fuel station nearby.
Now that's an extensive list you've gone through and these were some mistakes I learnt the hard way.
I'm sure you have your own list of things to consider when planning for a road trip. We all have our personal ways of dealing with our situations and planning for our own adventures but sharing never hurts.
Have I got it all covered? Do you want to add something very essential which I've skipped out on? Please do leave a comment below and let me curate a better list next time with your help. Let everyone benefit from this and so do share this list with your friends and family on social media.