How a trip works from start to finish

Once you've signed up and been verified as a borrower, taking a trip with Car Next Door is simple. 

How to book a car, van or ute

To book, just visit the search page or download the app, search for available cars that match your needs, and book instantly. You don't need to wait for the owner to confirm. 

Your trip can be as short as an hour, and increase in increments of 15 minutes for up to 60 days.

Trip instructions

Log in to the app 15 minutes before your trip starts. We’ll walk you step-by-step through your whole trip.

Before you drive…

Remember, you're a guest in a real person’s car. Please take care of it as you would for a friend.

  • Only you or other verified Car Next Door members may drive the car. Other drivers will be covered by the damage and loss cover.
  • Don’t smoke in the car. If you or a passenger smokes, close all the doors and windows and walk at least 10 metres away from the car before lighting up.
  • Return the car clean and tidy, ready for the next driver
  • If anything goes wrong, let the owner know – don’t wait for them to discover damage, spills or fines themselves

Get the keys and find the car

If you're borrowing an Instant Keys car:

To get the approximate location before your trip starts, select the trip from the Trips page in the app. The car's ideal parking address is shown so you can head to the right area.

15 minutes before your trip starts, select 'Pickup instructions' on the trip page. You'll see step-by-step instructions on picking up the car, including the current location.

The keys for most Instant Keys cars are secured in a lockbox. It may be on the car’s window, or attached to a fence or building nearby. You'll see instructions tailored to the car you have booked.

If the lockbox is on the car's window, take it off and store it safely in the car while you drive.

If you're borrowing a Key Handover car:

You’ll need to meet the owner to pick up the keys. The app will give you instructions to get in touch with the owner and arrange to meet. The owner will be able to let you know where the car is currently parked.

Check the car and take photos

Before you drive, do a quick check of the car.

If the car is not in good condition, is dirty or has less than ¼ tank of fuel, take a photo of it and let us know.

Take photos of all surfaces of the car and the car's interior and upload them through the app. You'll take photos again when you return the car. If you can't upload the photos as you take them, make sure you upload them within 48 hours of your trip ending.

Your photos protect you. If damage is found later, and your before and after photos show that it was not caused during your trip, you won’t be held responsible.


Read the owner’s instructions

Each Car Next Door is unique. The car owner’s instructions will tell you any tips and tricks for using their car.

You’ll get the owner’s contact details in case you need to ask them a question. 

Enter the odometer reading (Key Handover only)

If you're borrowing a Key Handover car: enter the current odometer reading and upload a photo of the dash showing the odometer before you drive.


You must return the car with the fuel tank at least ¼ full, so the next driver can get on their way. The car’s instructions tell you what type of fuel to use.

You don’t pay for fuel yourself – it's included in the distance charge.

If you need to fill up, pay for fuel using your own money and upload a photo of the receipt for reimbursement.

Need more time?

It’s simple to extend your trip through the app, as long as no-one else has booked the car. Just follow the prompts to set a new end time.

Make sure you extend before the trip is due to end, to avoid late fees.

If you return the car early, you’ll still pay for the time you booked, unless someone else books it. This is because the owner may have made plans around your booking, and missed the chance to rent the car to someone else.

End your trip using the app

When you're ready to return the car, open the app and start the return instructions. You'll see directions on where to park. Some cars have a dedicated parking spot, like a garage or driveway. Others are parked on the street.

In very busy areas, you may need to plan extra time to find a park at the end of your trip.

If the car is parked on the street, check the instructions and parking signs very carefully. If you leave a car in a place where it gets a parking fine – no matter how long after your trip ends – you’ll need to pay the fine.

Check, lock and leave

If you're borrowing a Key Handover car: enter the final odometer reading and upload another photo of the dash showing the odometer (Key Handover cars only).

For all cars: take another set of photos clearly showing all surfaces of the car and the car's interior, and upload them through the app or website.

Before you leave the car, check you've:

  • taken all your belongings 
  • left the car clean and with at least ¼ tank of fuel
  • closed all the windows
  • turned off all the lights 
  • locked the doors

Use the app to generate a lockbox code, put the key back inside and close the lockbox securely. If the lockbox was on the car's window, make sure you put it back in place.

Hit the 'End trip' button in the return steps to complete your booking, and you're all done!

Not a member yet? Here's how to join

You can join Car Next Door and become a verified member for free. Once you're a verified member you'll be able to borrow from our fleet of over 3000 cars, vans and utes across Australia. 

It only takes a few minutes to apply and you can be on the road today. 

Join for free

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