Rental Car Companies

Joe Nield

Jul 31, 2004
Plainfield, Indiana
"Expectations are Inversely Proportional to Results: Chase Part 2" comes this year, but due to being scattered to the winds by college, flying to a central location and renting a car will be necessary. There has been some discussion in the past about the best rental companies for chasers, but I was hoping everyone could post their preferences. I'm concerned about those companies that secretly have some way of finding out if you take it out of state, etc., and I don't want to be stuck with a huge bill when returning the car. I'm also looking for unlimited mileage, obviously. Thanks.
I always go with Hertz. One of the main reasons is that it has the NeverLost GPS system. So in effect, when I am chasing I run two GPS systems, one via my laptop and MS Streets & Trips, and the NeverLost. It costs a couple of bucks a day extra, but I like the backup. When I have rented from them I always get unlimited milage... I think that's the only way they go. In addition I like that they offer some mini SUVs so I can get a small car that has all time 4wd (for those muddy situations!) I think last time I got a Mitsubishi "Outlander" and it did the trick. Good handling, took it off road through some sticky / muddy roads (May 29th thru Calumet OK ... very muddy!) Each time I return the car, the person checking it in usually says "Wow five thousand miles!!", but no worries because I have the unlimited milage so its OK. I've driven their cars from Iowa to Texas, to Louisiana and Colorado, and never had a problem.

Finally, when you do reserve a car, check to see if you can get a discount via the Automobile Club, or your employer, or can ask them for the "FRDM" - freedom rate, and they should set you up.
I would choose any of the big rental companies. I think Avis is good. There is also Hertz, Alamo, National and Enterprise. Compare prices by phone and reserve a car. If you can, rent from an in town location rather than the airport since they add "airport fees" to the daily rate. Get unlimited mileage and check the fine print about going out of state. Some will give you unlimited mileage but penalize you for going out of state. I have heard that someof the smaller companies have installed GPS systems to track rental cars.
Although expensive, get the vehicle damage insurance.
Another reason for a big company: If you are tracking an outbreak on the last days of your vacation, you have the option of dropping of the car at another branch location of the rental chain. They will charge a fee but that's better that missing a good chase because you have to return to the original rental location.

I will usually check out the cars the local branch of the rental company I plan to use. This will give me an idea of the types of available cars and how to arrange equipment. For example, I use a Video Innovators camera mount and I have to have a "hump" between my side and the passenger side.

When your drop off the car, wash it first to help remove dust. Most agencies don't allow driving on dirt roads and that could invalidate the insurance. Finally, although obvious, don't wear clothing with pictures of storms and tornadoes during pick-up and drop-off.

Bill Hark
Remember the Alamo!!

My wife and I had a bad experience with Alamo car rental. We arrived at Miami International Airport for our one week vacation in Florida. Our first stop at the Alamo check-in counter was met with a dumb explaination about how the system is backed up, etc. This was said while he was busy with a couple of customers in front of him.

We got a shuttle ride over to the Alamo car distribution center. And we were met with a line that looks like a mile long. We waited for nearly two hours in line. Finally we got up to the front counter. Even thought we had specified a sedan car, we were assigned a SUV vehicle. We told them this was a misteak and we took another car instead. They stopped us at the gate and told us we had the wrong vehicle.

Took a little doing and some nervous driving trying to figure out how to drive one of these huge things. It was such a relief when we dropped it off at the end of our vacation. In fact we appreciated the extra room in the back for our bags and the high seating positions, etc.

But overall it was a bad experience not to be appreciated. Thus our saying "Remember The Alamo" takes on a whole new meaning for us.

Thanks. LJK.
I've used Avis twice, and they haven't seemed to mind me driving the crap out of their vehicles! Once I returned a Chevy Blazer with a huge scratch and several inches of mud caked on the sides. And thanks to the unlimited mileage, I drove a Dodge Caravan 1,024 miles on an 18 hour rental. I was at least polite enough to wash it before I returned which also made a few small hail dents visible....I recommend the "full coverage" waiver!
Avis in Las Vegas tried to screw one of my friends over on alleged damage, so I avoid them. One company seems like another, anyway.

I'm always reminded of that Seinfield episode where his rental car wasn't in. "You took my reservation! The reservation is what HOLDS the car! That's where you have the problem... you know how to take the reservation, but you don't know how to HOLD it." Reminds me of several of my own rental experiences.

Hail damage would be covered with additional CDW coverage, unless you were clearly and proveably negligent. Probably not a good idea to publish a video with the renter giggling like a maniac and saying, "Its a good thing Alamo didn't know we were trying to video big hail!" as the van gets pummelled like a two-ton minute steak.... Or return vans looking like Titelist golfballs three years in a row....
I'll be using Budget when in Norman for the 88D workshop next week, so if they treat me right, they may just win my business, as OKC will probably be the "central location" all of us graduated saps end up flying to this year.