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Isle of Lewis and Harris-driving question

I am a bit anxious about renting a car and driving with the wheel on the right and trying to remember to stay to the left. But what made me more anxious was something i heard from a friend of a cousin of mine who also rented a car here on the islands. He said he blew out not one but two tires by running over something he did not see on the left side of the road. He had loss and damage coverage for the rental (which I also have intended to take out after I discuss with my insurance and credit card people). He said it did not cover tires and it cost him more that $600 to replace them.

I heard the roads are OK on the islands but some of the places I have looked into going have unpaved roads. I am worried about the tire situation. The rental car company said it is 25 additional pounds if I want coverage that will include tire repairs. I am not sure what to do. I am also wondering if this is a problem on the roads there and what others' experiences have been like.

I am flying in to Stornoway on a Sunday (I already know all stores will be closed) but picking up the car on a Sunday is fine with me because I am hoping it will mean less traffic on the roads so I can get some great photos between 3pm and 7pm before I check into the bed an breakfast near the Stones.

Posted by
16893 posts

I would pay for the additional insurance coverage. If they also offer roadside assistance, is it available on the islands?

P.S. I did rely on roadside assistance when I had a flat tire in the Greek mountains. (There were a lot of fallen rocks on the road.)

Posted by
2615 posts

Roadside assistance is covered by all the major companies on the various islands in Scotland but usually through a local agent.

Posted by
6113 posts

I have driven hundreds If not thousands of miles on unpaved tracks/ roads, from tracks in Portugal to roads in Namibia and I have never had a puncture. It's always a possibility, but drive at a sensible speed for the surface and you will be unlucky to get a puncture.

Driving on the wrong side is something that you pick up easily, as the car controls will be on the wrong side too. I have problems with my coordination (left vs right), but I find driving abroad is easy. The only thing to remember for the first couple of mornings is to keep to the correct side of the road.

Your cousin's friend must have been driving a sports car something unusual to pay $600 for 2 tyres. You should get a full set plus plenty change for that amount of money.

Posted by
238 posts

Thank you all for your thoughts and insight. I did decide to take out the full insurance coverage...with "no excess" (as they say in the UK). it will cost me close to $100 a day for the 3 days. Yikes! But, it will be "peace of mind" and the place I am using does take Amex so I can get some points and then use my accumulated points to pay the bill a month later ;-).