Finding a loaner car can be a challenging task when you hand over your vehicle to the dealership for maintenance. When you want to get a loaner car from a dealership, you need to consider a few essential things. You need to know what are why loaner cars are used, what are the policies of a loaner car, and how to get a free car from a dealership. In this guide, I have covered the complete guide on what is a loaner car and how to get a loaner car from a dealership.
A loaner car is a courtesy vehicle provided by an auto repair shop to you free of charge to use while your vehicle is being repaired. A loaner car may be the same make and model as your car. Moreover, it is your responsibility to pay for the damages (unless the insurance company covers it), tolls, and fuel for the temporary vehicle while it is in your possession.
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What is a Loaner Car?
A loaner car is a courtesy car provided to you while your car is being serviced. Dealerships offer loaner cars for free, so they can hold on to your business when your car is in their service center. For the loaner cars, dealerships manage their own fleet. Loaner cars are not considered demo or rental cars.
Complimentary loaner vehicles are considered to be new cars since dealerships typically do not register them as demo or program cars. Offering a free loaner car for a specified time is a nice perk that makes a customer see the latest models and tech and makes him want to buy another one.
If you’re buying a new car at a dealership, they might also give you a loaner car until your new purchase is ready. This is not confirmed as most users couldn’t manage to get a loaner car while their new car purchase is being shipped. You will have to ask your dealership first. I found the related discussion on this forum to be helpful for you. You should check this out.
Why Do Dealerships Provide Loaner Cars?
The dealership will provide a loaner car as an incentive to keep you coming back. A loaner car is a very good marketing tool for dealerships. It is a low-cost way to attract customers and retain them. It is also a good way to increase customer satisfaction and make customers feel good about their experience. Moreover, dealerships try to soft-sell the new car models by offering them as loaner/courtesy cars. In that way, the dealer wins a new customer by providing a free loaner car.
On the other hand, some dealers require a contractual obligation to be able to offer a loaner vehicle. For instance, if a dealer warrants a vehicle and the terms require that the dealer provides a loaner vehicle, then he has to provide one if one is available.
Do Car Dealerships Let Anyone Use a Loaner Vehicle While their Car is Getting Worked On?
That is up to the dealership. When a vehicle requires service or repair, the availability of a free loaner vehicle is a big concern. It depends on certain factors, including:
- Manufacturer of the vehicle
- Your warranty
- Your car insurance
- Policies of the dealership
Generally, you can ask for a loaner car or a courtesy vehicle from the dealership if they will take more than 24 hours to repair your car. Note that your car should be under warranty to get a loaner car. Some dealers also provide a loaner car to anyone getting repairs that were to last more than 3 hours.
When scheduling your service appointment, let your appointment coordinator know that you would like a courtesy loaner vehicle.
Also, some dealerships do not require you to have purchased your vehicle from them to get a loaner car. However, in those cases, vehicles are first reserved for the customers who have purchased a vehicle from those dealerships.
As an example I found the following dealerships having completely different policies, described above, for loaner cars:
I’m not an affiliate of them. I just mentioned those dealers for your understanding.
How To Get A Loaner Car From A Dealership?
Now that you know what a loaner car is and why it is provided, let’s discuss how to get a free loaner or courtesy car from a dealership.
Here are the steps of getting a loan car from any auto repair shop, or dealership:
- Contact your insurance provider
- Set an appointment with a lender
- Do proper paperwork on hand and fulfill the prerequisites
1. Contact Your Insurance Provider
You should check your insurance policy to make sure that it covers a loaner car as it entirely depends on the vehicle’s maker policy. Some insurance/warranty providers like Kia do not offer loaner cars if your car is in for service, even if it’s for warranty work. So the dealership has 3 cars that they will either loan out or rent out, depending on the situation the customer is in.
On the other hand, Lexus dealers have loaner cars for the customers that are either in the process of buying a new car and needed one to use in the interim or when their car is to be repaired under warranty.
2. Set An Appointment With a Lender
You have to set an appointment with a respective dealer for your car to be repaired. Also, ask for a loaner car while setting the appointment. If you don’t mention a loaner car reservation during an appointment, there can be problems later on. When you take your car to a dealership, present a valid driver’s license, proof of current vehicle insurance, and credit card to be eligible for a loaner vehicle.
3. Do Proper Paperwork on-hand and Fulfill the Prerequisites
Once it’s confirmed that you can get a loaner car, the dealership has specified some conditions to use a free loaner car. The conditions might include the following:
- Your age should be 20 to 25 years
- Distance or mileage up to which you can drive a loaner car from the dealer’s location
- The fuel level of a loaner car must be the same as it was at the time of availing of the service
- You will not be smoking in a loaner car
- You are accountable to pay for the damage, tolls, and parking charges of a loaner car
- Time after which loaner car should be returned to the dealer when you’re informed about the completion of the service
- You must pay a specific usage fee per day if you fail to return the loaner car on the agreed-upon day or after the completion of the service
- You should note any damage to the loaner car before you use it
Once you have taken all the necessary steps, just wait for them to approve the deal. The dealer will give you the key to the courtesy car, and then, you’re good to go.
How Long Can a Dealership Hold Your Car for Repair?
The length of time that a dealership can hold your car for repair is set by state law. This varies from state to state, so you should check the specific rules of your state. However, most states require that a dealer must hold the vehicle for repair for no longer than 30 days. However, there are a few repairs that are more intricate than others. Also, there are chances that the dealer doesn’t have the mechanic or parts to fix the problem with your car. In such cases, the dealer can hold the car for more than 30 days.
Who Should Pay For A Loaner Car Accident?
Paying for a loaner car accident could vary from contracts and insurance regulations. According to some dealerships, if you have an accident with the loaner vehicle, your personal auto insurance will cover the repairs and you will be responsible for the deductible. Do note that some car dealers provide insurance coverage for you or any passengers in a loaner vehicle. So, you must have to read the policies of a respective car dealer.
To learn more, I found this guide related to loaner car accident policies helpful for you.
Loaner Car Vs. Rental Car
Rental car companies and dealerships rent vehicles to people who need temporary transportation. Dealerships often offer loaner cars as courtesy services to customers who have their cars in the shop for repairs.
The difference between a rental car and a loaner car is that rental cars typically are of high mileage, while loaner cars have low mileage. Many people get rental cars when they need to drive long distances. Since rental cars are of high mileage, they have suffered from wear and tear. Moreover, you do not have a record that who has previously used a rental car. In courtesy cars, the mileage count is limited.
In a loaner car, smoking is not allowed, while in the rental car there isn’t such condition. Lastly, the fuel level of both rental and loaner cars should be the same as it was at the time of taking it from the dealer.
Should You Buy a Loaner Car?
Buying a loaner car, or demo car, from a dealership can be beneficial. Loaner cars come with benefits and up-to-date technology that will ensure your leisure and the quality of your safety in driving. You will likely get a newer vehicle at a lower than the market price. However, do note that the loaner car should be in good condition. You should take a test drive of the loaner car so that if there are problems, they can be easily identified.
What Are The Benefits of Buying a Loaner Car?
The benefits of buying a loaner car include:
- Affordable Price
- Often in a good condition
- Relative new and the affordable car model
- Great after-sale service
There are several benefits to buying a loaner car, including being able to drive a newer model vehicle than you normally would be able to afford. This can save money in the long run. It can also give you the opportunity to test out a new vehicle before making a big purchase. You can also get the vehicle inspected by a mechanic and get a better idea of how well it is running.
Let’s discuss the benefits of buying a loaner car in detail.
Loaner cars are technically used cars. So, they are sold at quite a lower price than brand-new cars. The more mileage the loaner car has covered, the lesser its price.
Often In a Good Condition
You can expect a loaner car to be in a good condition as the dealer maintains it to attract customers as a part of their marketing strategy and soft-sell newer car models. Moreover, the mileage of a loaner car is quite less as the dealer has set the limit on them when customers use them during the car repairing service.
Great After-sales Service
If you manage to buy a certified vehicle that was a dealer’s courtesy or loaner vehicle that is still under the manufacturer’s warranty it is generally a very good deal. In most cases, loaner cars are usually not registered. So, technically you’re the first owner of the car. Moreover, since the loaner car wasn’t registered, its warranty in-service date has not started yet and none of its service plans have either.