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Old 21st October 2010, 06:45   #1
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Default Rentals and me - driving in US

Its 3rd time (overall 4th) that I have come to US with my job, and anyone who has been in US can say that life is standstill here without a car (leaving aside a few big cities). Having learnt driving in 2007, I nurtured my driving skills by first driving rentals.

Rental car gives one the opportunity to drive various cars without actually buying them. The icing on the cake is that most cars rented out are quite new - so the fun factor of driving a new / semi-new car is always there.

Having driven rentals of diverse size (from the small Chevy Aveo to the big Chevy Uplander) in diverse locations (from snow covered roads in Massachusetts to the straight-as-an-arrow road in Navajo country) - rentals have been my steed for quite a part in US.

Not much have been written by me, or by anyone I guess in TBHP, about driving around in rentals. So I just thought to highlight some of my rental episodes here.

The write ups shall be brief - with mention of the route we took, a few pictures of the locale we visited and of course of the car we drove.
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Old 21st October 2010, 07:08   #2
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Yes, rentals are very affordable here and you could get to drive the cars of your choice ranging from the diminutive Toyota Yaris right to the Hummer H2. And if your are lucky, you could be upgraded to a higher class of vehicle, if the rental agency is unable to provide the class of vehicle you have selected. And weekend rentals can be a steal sometimes.

Presence of a number of rental agencies like Budget, Avis, Hertz, Enterprise. Alamo and others helps you to pick and choose a car and price of your choice. Sites like Hotwire.com and carrentals.com help you in choosing rental cars, flight tickets, hotels or vacation packages.

The system is real good here.
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Old 21st October 2010, 08:00   #3
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Default October 9-10 2010

Car: Honda Civic (yippeeee - upgrade!!)
Destination: Chimney Rock State Park, NC

It had been only a week and I got itchy feet, plus few of the friends who are first timers at Charlotte/USA were rearing to go off to someplace.
Called Enterprise, asked for a compact car @ weekend rates ($9.99 per day + insurance) and after a couple of hours, had the keys for a new 2010 Civic!

The route:

Rentals and me - driving in US-img1.jpg

Being only a 200+ mile drive both ways, the civic was more than comfortable for us (3 adults and a kid).

Couple of hours drive on empty roads (pic taken by my friend as I was the one driving):

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Reached Chimney rock and hiked up.

Midway through the hike:

Rentals and me - driving in US-4.jpg


The view from top is spectacular

Rentals and me - driving in US-5.jpg

After coming down via the elevator (yeah - you can take that one on your way up too!!), drove back a few miles to lake Lure.

Nice serene atmosphere:

Rentals and me - driving in US-6.jpg

Rentals and me - driving in US-7.jpg

Our ride for that weekend - 2010 Civic:

Rentals and me - driving in US-8.jpg

Rentals and me - driving in US-9.jpg

Rentals and me - driving in US-10.jpg

Supremely comfortable, nice suspensions but the low GC stuck its head up when I took a 30 degree ramp to a store at 15 mph.

As rentals always are of lowest trim- this one had no ACC, no alloys and no usb etc.

Last edited by blackasta : 21st October 2010 at 08:07.
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Old 21st October 2010, 08:13   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackasta View Post
As rentals always are of lowest trim
Well it depends; I'd a rented Honda Civic during 2007/08 in Troy city (Woodbury Avenue) & I'd a Civic top of the line; I also had a Chevrolet Cobalt which was also the top end variant with alloy wheels & heated seats. Oh!!! BTW, I'd rented it out from Hertz.

I was also offered a Ford Mustang upgrade for $600 a month when it usually costs about $900 with a free to try for 3 days with no obligations

Sorry if I'd hijacked your thread.
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Old 21st October 2010, 08:25   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
Well it depends; I'd a rented Honda Civic during 2007/08 in Troy city (Woodbury Avenue) & I'd a Civic top of the line; I also had a Chevrolet Cobalt which was also the top end variant with alloy wheels & heated seats. Oh!!! BTW, I'd rented it out from Hertz.

I was also offered a Ford Mustang upgrade for $600 a month when it usually costs about $900 with a free to try for 3 days with no obligations

Sorry if I'd hijacked your thread.
No hijack issues - comments are always welcome.

I always rent out of a particular enterprise facility as I have developed a good rapport with the people out there. They try their best to get me a good car at cheap rates (I have driven jetta / civic where I only paid for economy/compact like aveo / accent), and also look the other way when I am a few miles over the 100 mile per day limit.

I also had rented a cobalt during memorial day weekend 2010, and it had alloys. Should have used the term 'most often' instead of 'always'!

Last edited by blackasta : 21st October 2010 at 08:27.
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Old 21st October 2010, 09:58   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackasta View Post
Car: Honda Civic (yippeeee - upgrade!!)
Destination: Chimney Rock State Park, NC

It had been only a week and I got itchy feet, plus few of the friends who are first timers at Charlotte/USA were rearing to go off to someplace.
Called Enterprise, asked for a compact car @ weekend rates ($9.99 per day + insurance) and after a couple of hours, had the keys for a new 2010 Civic!
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackasta View Post
I always rent out of a particular enterprise facility as I have developed a good rapport with the people out there. They try their best to get me a good car at cheap rates (I have driven jetta / civic where I only paid for economy/compact like aveo / accent), and also look the other way when I am a few miles over the 100 mile per day limit.
I think there is a terminology issue here.
Civic is considered as a compact car in the USA.
Accent is considered as a subcompact.
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Old 21st October 2010, 15:43   #7
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Yup, I had awesome experience with rental cars in USA. Used approx 50 rental cars from various vendors like AVIS/Hertz/enterprise etc.
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Old 21st October 2010, 15:58   #8
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Nice thread. I might be going to the US for the 3rd time this December, and I plan to rent a car this time. The first two times I used public transport in SFO and DC.

I have a couple of questions:-
  1. I hope IDL is not needed as mine will expire in November, 2010.
  2. How much will it cost per day including insurance? I don't mind renting over weekends if it is cheaper. Ideally I'd like to rent one for a week at least.
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Old 21st October 2010, 16:11   #9
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@vnabhi: We were looking to rent a car for our trip to CA as well. My friend who did all the bookings informed me that you do get a lower price if you book for an entire week as opposed to a daily rate. Do check it out.
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Old 21st October 2010, 16:36   #10
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If you rent from Dollar etc.,(smaller players), you can get really yummy free upgrades on weekends.
for example, for the price of an economy car we got a Mustang once, and a Jeep Liberty the other time.
Enterprise offered us a Mercedes C class for 25$ more for one day.
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Old 21st October 2010, 16:36   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
Nice thread. I might be going to the US for the 3rd time this December, and I plan to rent a car this time. The first two times I used public transport in SFO and DC.

I have a couple of questions:-
  1. I hope IDL is not needed as mine will expire in November, 2010.
  2. How much will it cost per day including insurance? I don't mind renting over weekends if it is cheaper. Ideally I'd like to rent one for a week at least.
There are no fixed prices in the US. If you buy a coke from 2 neighbouring shops, one may charge you twice the other for an identical bottle of coke.

Likewise for car rentals.
So rental price depends on a variety of factors
- More in holiday season
- More in a place where there is more demand than supply
- Additional taxes in that state or city or whatever
- Maybe Airport related fees when you are renting it at the airport itself.
- Weekends may be costlier.
- Discounts for longer bookings.

and lots of other stuff.

For the same car, I have paid prices as varied as 20$ or 50$.

You can play around here for indicative prices.
Car Rental Search - Yahoo! Travel

the first price mentioned may not be the end price - taxes & other fees may be added afterwars (atleast on some travel sites).


Insurance is very complex in the US. Check this earlier post of mine -> http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian...ml#post1929645 (May 2010 Sales Figures)

However, rental insurance isn't so complicated. I have never taken rental insurance, but I vaguely remember that the cost depends on different levels of coverage.
$10 - for a basic coverage
$20 - for more coverage, etc.

If you own a car in the US & it's insured, you may not need to take a separate insurance for the rental - it would be automatically covered by your car insurance.

Also remember, some of the rental companies do not rent to anyone under 25 years of age.
Also in most states, a regular Indian license would do - but check with your rental company.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
If you rent from Dollar etc.,(smaller players), you can get really yummy free upgrades on weekends.
for example, for the price of an economy car we got a Mustang once, and a Jeep Liberty the other time.
Enterprise offered us a Mercedes C class for 25$ more for one day.
Upgrades depend on 2 things
- You are frequent renter from the company (you rent every month - like travelling sales guys do) - they get a lot of free upgrades.

- You book a particular class of car. When you reach there, they don't have one available in the store - all are out. They give you a free upgrade.

Last time, I have booked in the cheapest range & I got a Mustang instead. Since my company was paying for the petrol, I didn't mind, but I had to fuel twice as frequently as I would have to do any other lower car.

By the way, Dollar isn't a small player. They have 600 locations worldwide!!

Last edited by carboy : 21st October 2010 at 16:46.
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Old 21st October 2010, 16:54   #12
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When renting a car I always took two insurances
1. LDW - Loss damage waiver - This is not mandatory by law in california. Costs 7.99$ to 8.99$ for most cars upto midsize, and goes to 11.99$ for premium vehicles.
2. Third party - 12.99$ - This the standard rate.

I was not renting via company, so I had to purchase these two insurances.
For car rentals I paid around 7-11$ for 24 hours since I used to rent on saturday morning, and return the vehicle by sunday morning. Most of our US trips were day trips involving 300-400 miles of driving.

I used expedia.com as well as indivdual sites of all car rental companies, and booked the cheapest car I could find.
I found that the big names (Avis/Hertz) never gave upgrades.

Dollar was my favorite as the rental counter lady was an Indian(a Punjabi!), and she would always give us free upgrades.

So building a rappo helps certainly!

Here is the thread
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/shift...le-7-cars.html

Last edited by tsk1979 : 21st October 2010 at 16:59.
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Old 21st October 2010, 17:04   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
If you rent from Dollar etc.,(smaller players), you can get really yummy free upgrades on weekends.
for example, for the price of an economy car we got a Mustang once, and a Jeep Liberty the other time.
Enterprise offered us a Mercedes C class for 25$ more for one day.
Once we booked a Camry and when reached AVIS office they said 'sorry we do not have Camry or any other full size car, but if you dont mind you can take that Mustang instead' we were like !!!. We drove around in rented cars for continuous 17 months, and used to change cars on weekly basis!!

Last edited by Latheesh : 21st October 2010 at 17:08.
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Old 21st October 2010, 17:32   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
  1. I hope IDL is not needed as mine will expire in November, 2010.
  2. How much will it cost per day including insurance? I don't mind renting over weekends if it is cheaper. Ideally I'd like to rent one for a week at least.
1. You don't need an IDL to drive in US provided you're not going to stay more than a year. However, you Indian driving license SHOULD be written in English & should be valid & you can use your Indian driving license upto a year. You can also use Indian driving license to rent a car.

2. Most of them have given elaborated answers which are more than helpful. Since you'll be travelling via some Indian company, check if your company has a rental agreement with any of the car rental company in US. The previous company I used to work with had rental agreement with Hertz that charged us only rent & complete insurance was free. Yes, weekends you get a good deal, also try taking quotes from multiple car rental companies & avoid booking with the rental companies that are located inside Marriot/Hilton kind of hotels. You'll begin to feel Indian company's attitude are far better. Hope you got what I mean.
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Old 21st October 2010, 19:40   #15
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@ carboy - yes civic is a compact car by DMV/Govt designations, but does not appear in the economy/compact section of enterprise car rentals :(
The cars which are lent out @ economy/compact rates are aveo, accent, versa, sentra, HSS, PT cruiser. they often upgraded me to corolla/cobalt/jetta which any day is better than the first list!

Also - most of the times I take out cars on an weekend special rate enterprise has (9.99 + insurance + tax). The insurance including DW, PAI and SLP comes to around 30 USD. Quite a lot - but the practice of having full insurance & all of that money I paid over a long period finally saved me when I totalled that corolla!
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