Will the Toyota recall affect your next car rental?

Toyota‘s massive recall due to faulty accelerator pedals is trickling down into car-rental companies. How does the recall affect your next rental?

I checked in with some of the major players to see how they’re handling the recall, now estimated at more than 9 million worldwide.

Avis Budget: About 20,000 cars have been grounded due to the recall. “Our fleet is 7 percent smaller today, but we are receiving weekly deliveries of new vehicles from the purchase agreements we made months ago with our suppliers,” Avis Budget spokesperson John Barrows told me via e-mail. “So we expect to be able to fulfill all demand for any rental occasion while we await guidance from Toyota regarding the handling of the recalled vehicles.”

Dollar Thrifty: The recall represents less than 1.5 percent of the overall Dollar Thrifty fleet. “We have currently grounded the vehicles and are working with Toyota on inspection of the vehicles and a proper resolution of the issue. We do not have any significant Toyotas on order,” Scott Thompson, president and CEO of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, said in a written statement.

Zipcar: Toyota’s recall affects about 5 percent of the Zipcar fleet. The car-sharing company isn’t taking new reservations on any recalled vehicles, which include the 2009 and 2010 Toyota Matrix. If you already have a reservation on a Toyota Matrix, Zipcar will move you to a different car and compensate you for any rate difference. If you’d rather bail, any cancellation fees will be waived. For questions about upcoming reservations, call Member Services at 866/494-7227.

The silver lining: Many car-rental companies, such as Avis, Budget, Dollar, and Thrifty, only let you reserve a certain vehicle class (compact/economy, mid-size, full-size). Since you weren’t able to specify a make/model to begin with, at least you won’t have to deal with re-booking because the car you wanted is suddenly unavailable.

In general, car-rental companies had already been shrinking its fleets, which was resulting in higher prices. We’ll keep an eye on how this will affect pricing now that the supply is even smaller. I’ll also update once I hear back from Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, and National.

Renting a car over the weekend? Get it for $10 a day

Been searching for a car rental deal for your escape away from your iced in snow cave? You’re in luck. Browsing the the halls of our friend Gary Leff’s View from the Wing blog, we recently found an outstanding deal from Alamo Car rental for weekend bookings through February 28th.

All that you need to do us use corporate code 7015238 when you punch in your booking and voila, your rate will drop to $10.

Checking an upcoming trip to Nevada for Trouble in Vegas, we pulled up some pretty boss prices. Arriving Friday night through a Sunday night departure, our car rental is projected to cost $36, with tax, surcharges and fees all included. That’s the equivalent of 7 seconds at a Bellagio blackjack table.

There’s a four day maximum to rentals and a Saturday night stay is required, but both of those criterion should be easy for weekend jetsetters. Just pack light (your car is going to be comically small) and say thanks to Gary on your way out.%Gallery-14657%


How Enterprise goes green – in a big way

Green is finally “in” – you no longer have to grow a beard and wear socks made from recycled cardboard boxes and corn husks to do your part in helping the environment.

Even when you are on the road, it is quite easy to help out. Some car rental companies jumped on board the green train ages ago by offering renters the option of a hybrid vehicle.

Enterprise, (the parent company of Alamo, Enterprise and National rent-a-car) took being green one step further, and introduced the largest fleet of hybrid vehicles in the country.

In total, 5000 gas/electric hybrids are available from Enterprise branches, and 80 locations were designated “hybrid branches” where a high concentration of hybrid vehicles are available.

In addition to this, the company also offers a whopping 73,000 vehicles that are capable of running on the E85 ethanol blend.

Green renters can take things one step further by adding a $1.25 carbon offset option to rental agreements. This has been so successful that it was recently named the most popular consumer opt-in offset program in the industry.

Instead of relying on others to develop new technologies, Enterprise is also investing $25 Million in renewable fuels research and helping educate drivers on some basic tips on how to drive “green”.

Alamo Rent A Car Installs Self-Service Kiosks

After a long horrible flight, the last thing anyone wants to do is to stand in line at the car rental place and deal with some brain-dead employee trying to rent you a car.

With this in mind, Alamo Rent A Car has done away with brain-dead employees and replaced them with much smarter automated kiosks. The company now has 57 of the self-service booths throughout America. All one needs is a credit card, driver’s license, and a reservation. If you don’t have all three of these, then it’s back to the brain-dead employee who will no doubt tell you that all they have left is a Ford Fiesta with no air conditioning.