Hey, Can I Borrow Your Car?

Son borrowing father's carIn the song, it’s easy: a simple “baby, you can drive my car” and they’re off with a “beep beep, yeah!” In real life, you should ask a few more questions before letting another driver head into the sunset in your vehicle—or before borrowing someone else’s ride.

If you’re loaning out your car, ask:

  • Is the borrower licensed to drive? If they’re visiting from out of state, you don’t need to worry. If they have a driver’s license from another country, check your state’s requirements—the driver may need to apply for an International Driving Permit before he or she arrives in the U.S.
  • Does the borrower have a good driving record? If they have a history of fender benders and you keep your vehicle in pristine condition, it’s OK to not hand over the keys.
  • Is my insurance up to date? Every state requires a minimum level of auto insurance coverage, and some stipulate that in case of an accident, the car owner’s auto insurance—not the driver’s—provides primary coverage. (So if the driver rear-ends someone or bumps another car in a parking lot and your insurance has lapsed, you could be liable for damages.) Depending on your state’s regulations, you may also want to verify whether the driver has his or her own car insurance.
  • What do they plan to use the car for? If it’s any kind of commercial activity, like driving for a ridesharing program, you’ll need to check your auto insurance policy. Again, in many states, the car owner’s auto insurance provides primary coverage. If the car is being driven for commercial purposes and you only have a personal policy, you may not have sufficient coverage.

You should also ask if they plan to drive the vehicle into Canada or Mexico. Customs officers are often on the lookout for stolen cars, so you may want to provide the driver with a letter stating they’re authorized to take yours across the border.

  • Will the borrower use the car regularly? Your newly licensed teenager may phrase it as ‘borrowing’ the car, but if they’re using it to go to sports practice or the mall every weekend (and live in your household), you should add them to your insurance policy as a regular user.

If you’re the one borrowing the car, ask:

  • Do I have permission to borrow the car? If not, you could run into legal trouble. In many states, if you’re a direct family member of the car’s owner, it’s assumed you have permission—but it’s still polite to ask.
  • What are the regulations in the state where I’ll be driving? As the driver, it’s your responsibility to know the local rules of the road, from licensing requirements to speed limits and whether right turns on red are allowed. You should also check insurance requirements to make sure you’re properly covered, and be sure to ask the owner. Some states require the car owner’s insurance to cover any accidental damage, so if they’re not insured or don’t have the right coverage, as the driver you may end up being liable.
  • What kind of gas should I fill up with? They were generous enough to loan you a car—the least you can do is return it with a full tank.
  • Where do you keep the registration and insurance information? It’s best to be prepared, instead of rummaging in the glove compartment if something goes wrong.
  • Where do you usually take the car for maintenance? Get the name and number of their mechanic shop or dealership in advance for peace of mind while you’re on the road.
  • Can I eat and drink in the car? A vehicle is a personal space, so show it the same courtesy you would someone’s home.

Have you ever lent your car to a neighbor or friend? Would you do it again? Tell us about the experience (good or bad) in the comments below.

By Kristen Koch

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Carrie Martinez says

    If my boyfriend lets me borrow his car, i get into an accident and im not on his insurance will the car be covered

  2. Tina says

    I’ve only lent my car to my children and one friend who left me his car in return having as much to lose as I did should something have happened or the car not returned jn same condition as given.

  3. Braden Bills says

    I was about to lend my friend my car since his is at the shop. I didn’t even think about making sure my insurance is up to date! I wouldn’t want him to get in an accident and ruin anything. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Robert says

    All the comments here are brutal. Y’all people need better friends and/or less material attachment. I let friends borrow my truck all the time. If they dent it or wreck it I’d be more concerned that my friends are OK than my truck. Insurance will cover it and a dent can be fixed. Seriously, if you can’t loan your vehicle to a “friend” you might want to reconsider how loosely you label friends.

  5. Carey A Jones says

    Many years ago I allowed a college roommate to borrow my car. They said that it was only for a couple of hours.
    I was sick by the time they returned it the next day.
    Now I know that it’s easier to say no than to go through a whole night of worry.
    I don’t loan my vehicle to anyone period. It’s easier to drive them rather than worry about “Trigger” (my vehicles name)when it can be easily avoided.

  6. Cindy Lima says

    I lent my car many years ago to a boyfriend who crashed it with another passenger inside although I told him no passengers. He was careless and ran over a stop sign passing on the right next to the train and totalled the car. That was 30 years ago and I have never lent my car to anyone since then. I feel it is never a good idea to lend your car to anyone. If the friendship cannot withstand that it was not worth it in the first place. I was young but unfortunately learned the hard way.

  7. April Moles says

    One of my oldest friends asked to borrow my car last March 2015. I told her no. She has had numerous accidents in her old soccer mom van. I told her I would drive her where she wanted to go. She didn’t want that. I didn’t want my new old car getting dented or broken. She got really mad and broke off our friendship. Oh well.

    • Chrissy says

      That reminds me of a lady I know. Her name was Bethany she wrecked her car a lot yet always seemed to blame other people. And they were mostly all soccer mom vans lol

  8. Thomas says

    People who borrow your car does not take as much care as u do and it’s not surprise that a ticket come to your door for parking in the wrong place or speeding ticket two weeks later it’s a friend who ask and then u end up not friends it’s not worth it and it always causes some problem bottom line don’t unless u know for a fact they will treat it like its there own

  9. Ann says

    No, I will not let someone use my car. Been there, done that. They seemed to think it was theirs to use whenever and if I needed it for work or go grocery shopping, forget it. Seems borrowers have no intention of repaying the favor. And the trash…let’s not even go there.

    • Chrissy says

      My understanding is if they are not on your policy and are uninsured then it would be a claim on yourself which would sky rocket your rates…. Hopefully someone will come along that knows for sure