Driving & Car Rental Malaysia
Malaysia uses the “drive on the left” system, similar to those in United Kingdom and many of its commonwealth countries. Cars stay on the left side of the road on a two way road. On a two or three lane road, the slow lane is the left lane and right lane is used for overtaking and driving at higher speeds. Driver’s steering wheel is located on the right side of the car.
The roads in Malaysia are generally in good conditions and quite extensive. Highways link major cities and town roads reach out to every nook and corner.
Driving in Malaysia is quite an experience altogether. Let’s say the driving experience, especially in big cities, would be similar to that of many “bad boy” reputation cities in the world. For instance, Miami USA, Naples Italy and Buenos Aires Argentina. By this we mean that you can expect some cars not stop at stop signs, red lights being beaten occasionally, speed limits being beaten routinely, cars cutting in front of you or sometimes tailgating you if you are the much slower car. After midnight, for some drivers, the law book is out of the window and red lights, especially at housing areas, pose as decorations only. All this is done with a certain degree of caution of course, although accidents are caused by such behaviour. The good news is that there is hardly any blaring of the car horns as Malaysians found out that it is totally ineffective many years ago. It is a matter of adjusting for the traveler. There are also many sane, safe and law abiding drivers around.
Traffic congestion is a problem in big cities, particularly Kuala Lumpur and Penang. If you get caught in a traffic situation and gets lost on the roads, be prepared to wait it out. Cars cost a zillion in Malaysia because the taxes are high, but it has never stopped the population from buying them in droves. It is cheaper to buy a Malaysian made car in Britain than it is in Malaysia. A brand new 165bhp 2.0 Alfa Romeo GT, which cost RM270,000 (US71,000) would get you a brand new 280bhp 2006 Porsche Boxster S sports car in the United States. The local car manufacturers Proton and Perodua sell the majority of the cars in Malaysia, although competitively priced foreign cars has eroded its market share in recent years.
The speed limits in Malaysia are 110km/h on Motorways, 80km/h outside of built-up areas and expressways and 50km/h within towns.
Petrol Stations & Prices
Petrol in Malaysia is subsidised by the Government and one litre of petrol is RM1.92 (US 0.50) per litre. A full tank on a 1.5 liter rental car would cost around RM80 (US 21.0) and a 2 litre car RM120 (US32). Although engines of diesel cars have gone thorough leaps and bounds in terms of technology, diesel cars are not popular in Malaysia, and thus not common.
Petrol stations are widely available and popular brands are Shell, Mobil, Esso, BP, Petronas and Projet. Petrol stations service include pumping petrol, pumping tire air, washroom and some providing a car service, a small mart, ATM withdrawal and car wash. Pumping petrol is done by you. First go to the cashier located at the station, let the person behind the cashier know which bay number your car is located at and how much you want to pump. Pay the amount and then proceed to pump your car. If you have not pumped your car yourself before, do ask help from the station attendance. If you want a full tank, do let the cashier know beforehand and proceed to pump first. When pumping stops, proceed to pay the cashier the amount due, which is listed on the pump machine. Credit cards are accepted too. Swipe the card at the pumping machine and key in the amount you wish to pump. Wait for the signal which will let you know when it is ready. When it is ready, proceed to pump. Do ask for assistance from the attendance if you need any.
Car parking in Malaysia
Open public car parks charge from RM4.00 to RM7.00 per day, which is cheap. Shopping malls charge in between RM1 to RM3 per entry outside Kuala Lumpur. In Kuala Lumpur, shopping malls charge RM1.50 to RM2 per hour. Meter parking is also available on streets with maximum charge at RM4 a day. Hotel car parks are charged by the hour at RM2.50 and can be expensive if you do not have a function. If you do have a function, a flat rate of RM7.00 is chargeable, but must get your ticket validated for this price. A habit of Malaysians is to park wherever there is a space which is not obstructing to others and risk getting a ticket. At times they do block others due to the acute lack of parking. If you find yourself in such a situation, just sound the car horn and within a minute, the driver will come running out apologetically and move his or her car out of the way. This is due to the many cars and lack of parking space in Cities and Towns.
Car Rental Malaysia
The joy of renting a car is flexibility, whereby you can go to wherever you want whenever you want. You also have space to keep your luggage or the odd souvenir instead of lugging them around. The frustrating part is finding your destination in an unfamiliar world. A detailed street map is essential if renting is on your agenda. It would be an added advantage if you have traveling company as they can help as navigators or spotters. Car rental in certain places in Malaysia, like Pulau Langkawi(Duty Free status Island), is in fact the best option because it is cheap and public transportation not very good.
License-Legal driving age in Malaysia is 18 years old but many car rental companies require a hirer to be at least 23 years old and have held a drivers license for at least 2 years. Some 21 years with 3 years driving experience. An international driver’s license is not required, but a valid national license is needed.
Insurance & Safety – Insurance will be provided but always check what the extent of the coverage. You might want to take out your own insurance or pay the rental company extra premium for insurance excess reduction. Driver and front passenger are required to wear their seat belts at all times. If you have a mobile phone, do not use it while driving, which is against the law. To avoid theft of belongings, always park at a place which is bright and visible.
Car Rental Prices – Rates start at RM155 a day for a Malaysian built proton Wira 1.3 but varies accordingly, with the major car rental companies being more expensive. However major car rental companies do provide better service in terms of having more offices located throughout the country, where you can drop the car off or contact when there is a problem. Good rates are sometimes available when there is a special deal. The more days the car is rented, the cheaper it is charged per day. Local companies provide better deals but may not have that many offices, with the exception of Mayflower car rental.
Car Rentals Companies
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