Make finding your Zipcar and starting your reservation as pain free as possible with these handy guides


finding your zipcar

With over 1,500 cars and vans parked all over London and the UK it can be fairly daunting tracking down your reserved Zipcar. Finding your vehicle is pretty important start to your reservation so we have a few tips to make this as painless as possible.

Your first start should be to have your reservation confirmation ready in hand or on your phone:

Every time you make a reservation with Zipcar you will see a confirmation screen (above left). Don't worry if you forget to save or print this confirmation as you will be sent an email with a link to the confirmation (above right). If you don't receive this, it's probably because your notification preferences have not been set; you can change this here. You can also retrieve your booking confirmation any time from the 'my reservations' section under the tab 'my stuff'.

Not only do we provide a written description of the vehicle and location, we also show the location on a map above (green pin is where the Zipcar lives) and photos of the location. These can be a life saver if you're using a car in an unfamiliar area.

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finding your Zipcar - using the app


Good old fashioned preparation has it's obvious benefits, but not all of us can be so organised. This is where the Andriod and iPhone app steps in - it's a fantastic resource to have at your fingertips where you can access all the  information you need to find a vehicle.

Follow these steps to find your car using the app:

After logging into the app choose the 3rd tab "My Zipcar" and select "Reservations" and tap the reservation you want to view.

Tap the arrow next to "where" to bring up a location photo and description. You also have the option to get directions to the location using GPS:

Just remember to activate your GPS settings on your phone to be able to use this function.

Another great feature of the app is being able to honk the horn of your Zipcar. This can be very useful when finding a car in a car park or in a location with lots of other vehicles (or for scaring unwitting passersby). To access this feature, select the tab "drive" then select "Honk and unlock me" - this will bring up your virtual key fob, press the button that helpfully looks like a little horn.

Please note that this function is only useable during an active reservation and is restricted when it's late at night or early morning between the hours of 11:30pm and 7:00am. We don't want the neighbours out in force.

In the rare event that you still can't find your ride after rattling of a few beeps please call our member services team by either pressing the "call Zipcar" button in orange or by calling direct on 0333 240 9000.

Note that depending on your phone you may need to ensure your language is set to British English to call the UK team.

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unlocking your zipcar

So you’ve made your reservation and arrived at your vehicle, now you just need to get the thing open. If you have your Zipcard, get this out and hold it against the card reader attached to the windscreen on the driver’s side of the vehicle.

Hold it for a few seconds, wait for a beep and hey presto! You should hear the vehicle unlock. Locking the vehicle is the same process but in reverse, after you have replaced the keys and finished with the vehicle, hold the card against the reader, wait till you hear the car lock and you’re done!

If you haven’t got your Zipcard yet, don’t worry we can still get you into the car. If you haven’t already, download the free Zipcar app and log in. 

If you have lost your Zipcard and need a replacement, you can request one here. We will replace your first Zipcard free of charge, however if you need any more replacments they will carry a £10 charge.

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unlocking your zipcar using the app


You can use the Zipcar iPhone or Android app to unlock the Zipcar at the start of your reservation and lock it at the end. Start by selecting the "Drive" tab to bring up your virtual key fob. To unlock your Zipcar, just press the green unlock button, which looks like an open padlock, and to lock the vehicle, just press the green lock button, which looks like a closed padlock.  Please be aware the unlock and lock functions on the application are time sensitive and will only work during your reservation times.  If you are a few minutes early for your reservation or return late, you will need to use your Zipcard or call Zipcar on 0333 240 9000 (a £2.95 fee applies for unlocking via member services except for new members).

patience is a virtue!


When using the app to unlock a vehicle, please remember to be patient! The technology used is similar to sending and receiving a text message. When you send a signal to unlock your Zipcar, it's sent to our servers that check to see if you have an active reservation in that vehicle. Once confirmed, the signal is sent back to the vehicle, and hey presto! The car is unlocked. As with any text messages, these can get delayed, so please give it time before sending another unlock request. The more requests you send to the server, the longer the car will take to unlock!


keep your zipcard with you for backup

If you have received a Zipcard from us in the post, we recommend keeping this on you at all times. As the app relies on having a data connection, you won't be guaranteed access at all times. If you need to call member services for a remote unlock and don't have your Zipcard with you there will be a £2.95 service fee applied.

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finding your keys


Ok so you’re now in your Zipcar, we hope you’re sitting comfortably. Your first port of call is the glove box.

Inside you will find your keys attached to a slot with a green LED, this lets you know the key has been returned correctly by the last member. When you remove the key from this device the LED will flash red – don’t worry this is not a countdown to an ejector seat, it simply means your reservation is now active.


checking for damage

Also in the glove box is your Zipcar co-pilot – a clear plastic folder that contains lots of handy information about the service including rules (so that everything runs smoothly), what to do if something goes wrong, and most importantly the damage log.

The damage log is a section at the back of the co-pilot (it's bright yellow so you can't miss it) which is used to record all existing damage to the vehicle. Checking for damage is a very important part of the Zipcar reservation process. Every time you use a vehicle you should be checking for any new unreported damage at the start of your reservation before you drive away.

Check the bodywork and the interior of the vehicle and ensure all damage to the vehicle has been recorded in the log. If it has, great – you can drive away. If you can’t see an entry for the damage give us a call on 0333 240 9000 so we can take the details and give you a report number. You'll then need to write the description of the damage in a free slot and include the damage report number.

Use this diagram to help describe the location of the damage:

If you fail to report damage at the start of your reservation you could incur damage fees. If you fail to report a fresh piece of damage, and the next member after you does, you could be held accountable. If you want to avoid scary damage fees, learn more about damage waivers here.

And don’t forget your tyres! Look out for low pressure, you can compare the tires with each other, and if one of them looks low, let us know about it.

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 dirty cars 

Zipcar clean and valet every car in our fleet almost every week. Between these regular visits we rely on our members maintaining a level of cleanliness for the next member to enjoy, so please remember to take any rubbish and belongings with you at the end of your reservation.

The majority of members are conscientious, however now and again you may find a car that’s been left a bit on the dirty side.

If you arrive to your vehicle and find it dirty, the first thing to do is let our Member Services team know, we'll get in touch with the previous driver and find out what happened. Just like reporting damage we need to get reports at the start of your reservation to avoid you being falsely blamed. 

You can use the fuel card to pay for a clean at petrol stations with car washes, or if you prefer, we'll do our best to move you to a different vehicle. 



We'll reimburse you for out of pocket expenses. In the rare case where you may need to replace screen wash or add oil, we'll reimburse up to £15.00. You can use the Zipcar fuel card to pay for a clean at petrol stations with car washes. If the card is not accepted, we will reimburse you up to £10.00.

The easiest and quickest way of getting a refund is by taking a photo of the receipt with your phone. Email this directly to us including your membership details and we'll get onto your refund straight away. Remember to get a full VAT receipt that has a breakdown of cost - a credit card receipt will not be accepted:


Email, fax or post your receipt to the following, and include your name, Zipcard number, item purchased, date and time of purchase and amount.

Fax: 0207 681 3233
Snail Mail:
Zipcar Member Services - Reimbursement, Melbury House,
51 Wimbledon Hill Rd,London,SW19 7QW,United Kingdom

Once we get your receipt and it's been verified, we will reimburse your account within seven business days. 


checking fuel and starting the engine

Now that you've checked for damage, it’s time to get the car started. Hopefully we all know what needs to be done here:

Manual - key in the ignition, foot on the clutch, wiggle the steering wheel to remove the steering wheel lock, whilst at the same time turning the ignition.

Auto - Key in the ignition, foot on the brake, wiggle the steering wheel to remove the steering wheel lock, whilst at the same time turning the ignition.

For more info on specific models, check out our meet the fleet section here.

Once the car has started the fuel gauge will correctly display how much fuel is in the tank. Every member is expected to leave at least a ¼ of a tank for the next member. If you find you’ve been left with less than this, let our Member Services team know before setting off.

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10 minutes early access

We know this can seem like quite a lot to get through before you even start driving, especially if you're eating into your reservation time. That's why we give  members a 10 minute window before your reservation begins in which to go through your pre driving checks.

Exceptions to the rule:

  • if your booking is directly after another member then you won't receive the complimentary 10 minutes. This is because the previous member has purchased that reservation time up until the hour or half hour.
  • You can only enter a vehicle 10 minutes early using your Zipcard. The unlock function on the app will only work when you are within your booked times. 

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