How To Get a Loaner Car From Dealership


Getting a loaner car from a dealership can be a huge help when your own vehicle needs repairs or maintenance. Having a loaner allows you to still get around while your car is in the shop, saving you from being stuck without transportation.

However, not all dealerships offer complimentary loaner cars, and there may be certain requirements you must meet to qualify for one. Here is an in-depth guide on everything you need to know about getting a loaner car from a dealership.

The Inside Scoop For Hassle-Free Temporary Wheels

Having your ride in the shop for service is a bummer, but imagine life stranded without your trusty vehicle. No way to shuttle the family around. Can’t hustle to work. Errands? Canceled. Plans disrupted. Mobility destroyed. Not exactly a fun scenario.

Thankfully, dealerships get the hassle of being careless and offer savior loaner cars to get you back on the road. Loaners are a sweet perk letting you retain your freedom while repairs get done. This handy guide answers all your questions, ensuring smooth sailing when securing temporary loaner transportation.

Loaner Car Policies

Dealerships have specific loaner car policies that determine if a customer is eligible for a complimentary loaner vehicle while their car is being serviced. Loaner policies vary between dealership franchises and locations, but there are some common

requirements to be aware of. For example, many dealers only offer loaners if the vehicle was originally purchased from their dealership. The service required may also impact eligibility, with major repairs covered under warranty more likely to

qualify compared to routine maintenance. The duration of the service appointment and availability of loaner cars on the requested dates can also affect the dealership’s ability to provide a loaner.

Loaner Car Policies
Loaner Car Policies

Requesting a Loaner Car

Once you have reviewed the dealer’s loaner policy and believe you meet the eligibility criteria, the next step is making the official loaner car request. This is best done when you schedule the service appointment itself.

Contact the service department and speak to a service advisor, providing your vehicle information and repair needs. Specifically request to reserve a loaner car for your visit if one is needed. The advisor will then document your loaner car request on the work order.

Make sure to get their name and direct contact information for follow up. Ask what paperwork, such as auto insurance cards and driver’s license, you should bring to receive the loaner car.

Clarify the dealership’s loaner process by asking:

  • Are reservations required, or first come first served?
  • What are the vehicle options? (sedan, SUV, etc.)
  • How far in advance can I reserve a car?
  • If none are available, what are my options for transportation?

Loaner Car Eligibility

You purchased the vehicle from that brand’s dealership. Loaners are often limited to original owners. The repair is covered by the factory warranty or an extended service contract. Maintenance and wear items usually don’t qualify.

The service will take longer than a certain period, often overnight or multiple days. Quick repairs may not warrant a loaner car. You have an active auto insurance policy and can provide proof of coverage. Lapse in coverage will make you ineligible.

Loaner cars are available on the dates of your service visit. Availability is first come, first served. You have a valid driver’s license and means of payment for incidentals. Some dealers may require a credit card on file.

Loaner Car Eligibility

Making Your Loaner Reservation

Have the VIN, mileage, and repair details handy when contacting the service department. Request to book an appointment when loaner cars are available on the dealership’s lot. Specifically ask to reserve a loaner car for the duration of your service visit.

  • Valid driver’s license – required to drive the car off the lot in your name.
  • Insurance details – Proof of valid car insurance coverage. Some dealers demand customers add their loaner cars to existing policies.
  • Credit card – For “incidentals” like damages.

When reserving, ask:

  • Where/when do I take delivery of the loaner? Obtain detailed pickup instructions.
  • What model/size vehicle will I receive? Understand that specific cars aren’t guaranteed.
  • Who can I contact with other questions before pickup? Get your loaner liaison’s contact information.

Reviewing the Loaner Agreement

Review the agreement thoroughly before signing. Clarify any unclear points. The agreement will detail authorized drivers, mileage limits, geographic restrictions, smoking policies, and blackout dates. Make note of the dealership’s cleaning, refueling, and late return fee structure.

Carefully inspect the loaner with the dealer rep and note any prior damage on the agreement. Keep the customer copy of the signed agreement accessible during your loan period for reference.

Reviewing The Loaner Agreement
Reviewing the Loaner Agreement

Signing the Loaner Agreement

When collecting your loaner, expect paperwork outlining the borrow terms. While a snooze to read, the loaner agreement prevents future conflicts, so pay attention to:

  • Vehicle information – The VIN, mileage, and condition will be recorded pre-loan.
  • Return date/time/location – Strict loaner return instructions to avoid late fees.
  • Permitted usage – Any restrictions on driving out of state, off-road, etc.
  • Responsibilities – Oil changes, tire replacement, and other maintenance you may be responsible for.
  • Prohibited activities – No smoking, pet transport, modifications, etc.
  • Return condition – Requirement to bring back clean and undamaged.
  • Late, damage, and cleaning fees – Costs you’ll incur if loaner rules are violated.

Don’t just breeze through the agreement. Read carefully and get clarifications on anything vague before signing. Keep the paperwork for reference until you return the loaner.

Reviewing The Loaner Agreement
Signing the Loaner Agreement

Insuring Your Loaner

You use your existing car insurance – Call your insurer ahead to add the loaner as a “rental car.” Understand coverage nuances like rental reimbursement limits if you have to file a claim. Also, verify all regular household drivers are insured to operate the loaner. Update your policy to maximize coverage.

Dealer provides basic insurance – Some include limited liability/collision coverage on loaner cars as a courtesy. But understand the restrictions before assuming you’re 100% insured for all mishaps. Confirm coverage limits and deductible costs so surprises don’t ambush you later.

By proactively speaking with your insurer or the dealership about coverage, you head off any payment disputes stemming from misunderstandings after accidents or incidents driving the loaner. Get documentation of the coverage terms as proof.

Returning the Loaner on Time

No joyrides allowed! Return the loaner promptly by the specified date in your agreement, or risk late fees. The dealer expects their car back immediately when your repairs conclude.

If your service runs long, notify the dealership ASAP to discuss extending the loaner car. Don’t unilaterally decide keeping it a few extra days is no biggie. The moment they expect the car back, the late fee meter starts running. Avoid surprise charges by keeping them looped in.

When returning the loaner, remember:

  • Arrive during business hours at the designated location.
  • Refuel to the specified level (usually full).
  • Remove all personal items and trash.
  • Verify the odometer statement for accuracy.
  • Point out any prior damage not noted on the loaner agreement.
  • Obtain a return receipt to confirm no late fees are forthcoming.
Returning The Loaner On Time
Returning the Loaner on Time

Insurance for Your Loaner Car

Dealerships will require current proof of auto insurance in order to release a loaner vehicle to you. However, your personal policy may not extend full coverage to a loaner car. Discuss this with your insurance provider ahead of time to understand your status and policy limitations. Some options:

  • Your policy may already cover loaner cars for a certain period, such as 30 days. This is the most ideal scenario.
  • You may need to add or increase rental/loaner coverage through a policy endorsement. Additional premiums often apply.
  • If uninsured, you may need to purchase supplemental liability coverage through the dealership’s contracted provider. This is usually an additional daily fee.
  • Review the loaner agreement’s insurance requirements and exclusions. You may need to provide written proof of extended rental coverage.

Using the Loaner Responsibly

Follow all traffic laws to avoid incidents and tickets. Speeding looks bad! Keep the interior clean and free of smoke, vaping, odors, stains, trash, etc. Only transport authorized passengers. Additional drivers mean more risk. Make zero modifications to the vehicle – not even an air freshener.

  • Don’t attempt any maintenance or repairs yourself. Leave all service needs to the dealer’s technicians.
  • Drive cautiously to avoid accidents resulting in liability claims.
  • Keep the loaner at the agreed location. Don’t take on lengthy road trips without permission.
  • Disable GPS tracking and telematics. Big Brother’s watching!
Returning The Loaner On Time
Using the Loaner Responsibly

Potential Loaner Car Fees

Depending on your dealership’s policies and your adherence to the loaner agreement, you may incur additional fees such as:

  • Excess mileage charges beyond the limit, often around 30 cents per mile.
  • Fuel charges if you return the car with less gas than at pickup.

Cleaning fees for smoking, spills, stains, pet hair, trash, etc. These can range from $50-$250.

  • Late return fees, often $50 per day or more.
  • Loss/theft of loaner keys, floor mats, manuals, toll passes. Replacement costs apply.
  • Damages to the vehicle like dents, scratches, chipped glass. Your insurance may be liable.

Extending the Loan If Needed

If your vehicle needs more repair time at the dealership, promptly contact the service department about extending the loaner car:

  • Contact dealer immediately if repairs delayed
  • Request extension approval in writing
  • Clarify revised return date to avoid late fees

Communicating early about required loaner extensions provides time to avoid other customers being booked in the same vehicle.

Returning the Car

  • Refuel completely
  • Clean interior thoroughly
  • Check odometer statement
  • Return during business hours
  • Get receipt confirming no late fees
  • Review the final checkout paperwork and pay any accumulated incremental loaner fees.


Do car dealerships let just anyone use a loaner vehicle while their car is getting worked on?

No, most dealerships have specific eligibility requirements for loaner vehicles, such as only providing them to customers who purchased their vehicle from that dealer and have an active insurance policy. Loaner use is generally restricted to the service customer only.

Do dealerships have to give loaners?

No, the use of loaner vehicles is at the discretion of each individual dealership. There is no law requiring dealerships to provide complimentary loaner cars. Dealership loaner policies vary greatly, with some refusing loaners for basic repairs or maintenance.

I have had a loaner car from a dealership now for almost 4 years. Wouldn’t that car be considered abandoned by now by the dealership?

Yes, if you have kept a dealership’s loaner vehicle for nearly 4 years without their consent, that vehicle would almost certainly be considered abandoned. The dealer likely assumed the loaner car was returned long ago. You need to immediately return it and explain the situation.

If a car is recalled, will the dealership provide a loaner car?

For safety recalls, most dealerships try to provide loaner cars as a courtesy to customers while critical recall repairs are completed. However, loaner availability is limited, so having a reservation may be necessary. Non-safety recalls may not qualify for a complimentary loaner car.

Are dealerships obligated to provide a courtesy car when your car has to be in their shop for months for repairs?

Dealerships are generally not obligated to supply extended loaner cars for months while major repairs are completed. Most standard loaner agreements have mileage and duration limits. Extended rentals may require customers to pay rental fees and provide insurance.

What happens if you scratch a loaner car?

You will likely be held responsible for any damage that occurs to the loaner vehicle while in your possession, including scratches. The repair costs may be billed directly to you or charged to your insurance policy, depending on the loaner agreement terms. Be sure to thoroughly inspect and document any prior damage before taking the loaner.

Does Kia give loaner cars for recalls?

Kia dealerships have some discretion with loaner vehicles for recall repairs. For major safety recalls, Kia tries to provide loaners but cannot guarantee availability due to demand. Non-safety recalls may not qualify for a complimentary loaner. Customers can call their local Kia dealer to check loaner policies for recalls.

Q: Who is eligible for a loaner car?

A: Dealerships usually offer loaner cars to customers getting major work done that is covered under warranty or was purchased at that dealer. Policies vary, so check with the service department.

Q: How far in advance should I reserve a loaner?

A: Call the dealer as soon as you book the service appointment to give them maximum notice to arrange a loaner car for you. At least 1-2 weeks advance notice is recommended.

Q: What documents do I need to provide to pick up the loaner?

A: You’ll need a valid driver’s license, current insurance card, and a credit card on file. Some dealers also require you to be added to your insurance policy as a driver of the loaner.

Q: Can I get a specific loaner model/size?

A: Dealerships don’t guarantee specific loaner vehicles. Manage your expectations – you get what’s available in their fleet when you need it.

Q: What if there are no loaner cars available?

A: Ask the dealer about alternative options like rental car discounts, a shuttle service, or arranging rides through a ride sharing service. Be flexible.


A loaner car keeps your life rolling smoothly when your own wheels are in the shop. By understanding dealership loaner policies, verifying eligibility, reserving in advance, and returning on time, you can avoid hassles.

Loaners are a prime perk, but respect the rules – drive safely, communicate delays promptly, and return it clean. With this guide’s insights, you can feel confident navigating the loaner process. Keep the number of a trusted service advisor handy and maintain your vehicle properly.

The key points are:

  • Summarize the benefits of using dealer loaner cars
  • Review the best practices covered in the guide
  • Emphasize the importance of communicating with the dealer
  • Note the value of building a long-term service relationship
  • End on an encouraging note to use loaners to keep your life on track

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