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Getting the exact model of rental car you reserve

Discussion in 'Car rentals' started by Ctheworld, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. Ctheworld

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    Is there any way when making a rental car reservation to guarantee that you'll get the exact model car you reserve?

    We want to rent a small SUV (Ford Escape to be exact) so we can take a trip with expensive bicycles that we want to carry inside the car. We know that we can get the two bikes inside an Escape without dismantling them.

    But from past experience, I would say that 90 percent of the time that we reserve a compact car, we are involuntarily "upgraded" to at least a mid-size and sometimes full-size car.

    Do you know if there any way we can guarantee that we'll get the Escape we reserve? We won't be able to get our bikes in a sedan, and we don't want to be forced into a larger SUV that will get poor gas mileage compared to the Escape. We will be driving more than 2,000 miles over three weeks, so mileage is also important in this case.

    We live in the Washington, DC, area and we generally rent cars at airports, where we find the rates are best. Would we do better at a non-airport location in getting the SUV we need? Or do you know some other "trick of the trade"?
     
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  2. AMA

    AMA

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    I would try Sixt, if you have one, and see what they say. They were very helpful when my friend needed a full-sized SUV that would also be able to tow a trailer and gave her the exact vehicle she was looking for.
     
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  3. VoR61

    Advocate

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    The only cases I've seen where yo can specify a model is when renting "specialty" cars like sports models, jeep wrangler, etc. This is popular at LAS.

    I suggest you call a specific location and work directly with the manager. That, I believe, is you best shot at the Ford Escape.
     
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  4. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    I'd call the non-name brands at your destination that have offices close to the airport and chat with the owner or manager. I would think those people are your best bet for good follow-through and setting the vehicle aside for you. I'd call again a month out and a week before you arrive, just a friendly confirmation that your new best friend is still in the game.
     
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  5. kenish

    Staff Member Advocate

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    @Ctheworld - I'm an avid mountain bike rider and frequently travel solo and with others. You may find that you need to remove the front wheels to fit inside almost any vehicle. Fortunately it's fast and easy on both mountain and road bikes. I would actually go for something larger than an Escape. Two people, their regular luggage, cycling gear, accessories, and the bikes will end up pretty crowded...a larger SUV could be better. Keep in mind when bikes are contorted into a small space you risk breaking something or scraping up the frames. It's also nice to have enough interior space to change clothes before and after the ride.

    Are you checking the bikes with an airline? I'd actually be more concerned about that.

    (You may already know all this from experience.) Sounds like an exciting trip....any details on your riding now that you've piqued my curiosity?
     
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  6. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    First of all, rates at the airport are much more expensve than booking at offsite lcations. You pay a lot more in taxes ar an airport rental than if younpocked up at a non airport location.

    Unfortunately, I don't think it matters where you book from. While there may be a car in the category you want available when you initially rent, which could be weeks before you travel, there is no way to know if that car will actually still be there when you go to pick it up. Someone may have upgraded to your model, some might had an offsite drop off or a one way rental. There is no way to know until you arrive to pick up.

    It's my opinion you would have a better chance of getting this at an airport location simply because they have a larger fleet available. If you arrive and they dont have it available, ask them to call another nearby location and see if they have one.
     
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  7. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    You read my mind, @kenish, I'd be far more concerned about the bikes on an airplane ... and who wants to drive 2K miles in an over-stuffed vehicle? @Ctheworld, you could calculate the difference in gas costs with an SUV big enough to be comfortable and take good care of the bikes. Probably not a huge amount of money.
     
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  8. Algebralovr

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    You might try a Ford dealer as well. Around me, a number of dealerships rent cars directly.
     
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  9. Mike Z

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Sadly you aren't going to find any company who will be able to guarantee you the exact vehicle you are looking for. This is because the rental agency has no idea of knowing if a disaster will happen tomorrow, or if a customer will wreck the car before you get it, or even if the customer just rents it longer.

    Your best bet is to reserve the small SUV from multiple companies. Then shortly before you are supposed to rent, give the locations a call and see which one has the actual SUV you are hoping to get. You can hedge your bets this way and have a greater chance of getting the vehicle you need.

    Also, renting for the airport is almost never the cheapest way because of all the extra taxes on airport rentals as mentioned above. i've found that renting through Costco if you have a membership is the way to go. It's just a reservation and does not require a deposit or prepayment.
     
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  10. Mike Z

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    Sorry, forgot one other thing. You mention that using a larger vehicle is not wanted because of the miles being travelled, but if you get a good enough rate and save $$ each day over the next competitor, then you can use that money for fuel. Not sure where the prices are elsewhere in the US, but where I am, the price for regular is $1.70 a gallon.
     
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