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renting car with automatic transmission


Nov 6th, 2010, 07:21 AM
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renting car with automatic transmission

curious about experiences renting a car with automatic transmission, particularly if you want to do so in smaller towns (ie ambois or Caen). Looking online it doesn't look too feasible. Has anyone had any success with this?
lauramsgarden is offline  
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Nov 6th, 2010, 07:42 AM
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Cars with automatic transmissions are not overly popular in France therefor availability is often very limited. Even if you have a reservation for one, any unknown; one is wrecked or one is returned late, could mean that a small rental office will not have the car you expect. The best place to find one would be at CDG or maybe ORY.

Further, there are special taxes levied on those who insist on renting cars with automatics. The environmental fee is such a tax which will add 5€ per day for the first 6 days of any auto transmission rental. If you need to go to CDG to find one, there is also a location surcharge of 37€ (for any pickup at an airport or train station).

If you obtain a rental quote from Autoeurope for example, these fees are excluded from the quote and will be paid with a special charge made at the return rental office. Direct quotes obtained from French rental companies will generally include the fees which explains in part why these quotes might be higher than those of Autoeurope.
Sarastro is offline  
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Nov 6th, 2010, 07:47 AM
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They will cost about 30% extra and you may not get one in smaller towns.
bobthenavigator is online now  
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Nov 6th, 2010, 07:48 AM
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Yep - no problems at all. Also, I would not call Caen a small town (pop 200,000). We picked an automatic car up in Nimes this year (pop 150,000). To make sure there is really one there for you, a day in advance call the rental office in the town where you are picking up the car & make sure that there is one on the lot or one will be there when you arrive.

We rent cars through www.autoeurope.com or there sister www.kemwel.com. Kemwel seems to be less expensive.

Stu Dudley
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Nov 6th, 2010, 07:56 AM
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We are just back from a three week trip to England and Scotland. Rented through Europcar and picked up the car, an automatic Peugeot, at LHR. There was no extra charge for the automatic. We were offered a large Citroen sedan, also automatic, for the same price. DH declined the offer because we knew we would face some very narrow roads in the lake district and Isle of Skye.
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Nov 6th, 2010, 08:08 AM
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Yes; once using sixt from Nice, and just last month from Florence using Hertz. Had a high drop off fee with Hertz(E206) because we were driving from Florence to Nice, but even with that it was cheaper than flying & then renting. Had to call Hertz to get the automatic - couldn't make it come up on the website. Both times the vehicles were diesel. The sixt was a BMW and the Hertz car was a volvo. No problems getting through some very small areas with either vehicle.
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Nov 6th, 2010, 09:34 AM
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In my experience you will have better luck getting an automatic at an airport or major city whether you are in France,Italy,etc.When we rented from Hertz in Paris(never again) to drive to Caen,Honfleur,Normandy,etc. we found it impossible to get another car when our car broke down in Caen.It literally was some guy's personal garage that we had to show up to to find an exchange although they told us it was Hertz?
Just got back from a 2 week driving trip through Sicily with an automatic/diesel from Autoeurope and it went well butI did pick it up at one airport and dropped off at another.Mercedes 180 Diesel is my new favorite rental car-loved it!!!
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Nov 6th, 2010, 09:43 AM
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Automatics have become more readily available in some categories (you can check with the two main brokers, Auto Europe and Kemwel).

Depending upon the type of engine, automatics are often more economical, especially the new transmission used in the VW/Audi/Mercedes line of cars. The rental rates will depend on the rental car company and the size of their fleet. They used to be a lot more expensive, but lately the cost difference seem very close, or nonexistent.
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Nov 6th, 2010, 09:50 AM
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I've never had a problem and have done it three times in Provence. Of course I picked up at a major city (Marseille twice, at airport or train station, once Montpellier train station). I have used Autoeurope and Kemwel. All times I think the company was Europcar.

Last summer I paid $436 total for a 6 day rental of a compact (a Mercedes A) with A/T through Kemwel, so about $70 a day. That was after the exchange rate conversion (as it included about 10 euro a day of taxes or whatever that I paid when turning it in), of course, which was about what it is now, as I recall. So I guess that was around 45 euro a day total cost for the rental.
Christina is online now  
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Nov 6th, 2010, 09:51 AM
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The best way to ensure a car has automatic transmission is to rent at a major airport.
Underhill is offline  
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Nov 6th, 2010, 10:09 AM
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I rented at CDG in September and dropped off in St. Pierre des Corps.

There was no auto available at the dropoff location.

Best rates was through Avis and the rates were lower at the US site than the French site. The CDG location showed 1-series BMWs with auto. But they didn't have those cars so they gave me a Volvo S90. Okay car but bigger than I would have liked.
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Nov 6th, 2010, 10:59 AM
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I have rented at least 20 automatics in cities both large and small in France, Italy, Spain, etc.

I have never had a problem.

I usually use Kemwell or Autoeurope as brokers.

You might want to look at their European sites for the best prices. For example:


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Nov 6th, 2010, 11:04 AM
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Also, the assertion that automatics cost 3 times the price of manuals is simply not true!

Do your own comparisons but do not think that they are so pricey!
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Nov 6th, 2010, 11:10 AM
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One of my friends told me "you are wrong I have a reservation and it won't be any problem to get my automatic"

So when she got home I asked how the vacation went. She was trying to figure out if she could sue her rental car company for "ruining" her vacation ... She showed up and was told "sorry" our automatics are all in use. They finally did find her an automatic a day later!

I don't know how much she paid but I discovered the whole Automaic choice when we were discussing how much more rental cars are in Europe then the US (which I think is true) She wanted to know why mine was SO much cheaper then the one they had. Only real difference was auto vs manual.
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Nov 6th, 2010, 11:16 AM
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We have never had any trouble getting an automatic or the size car we want - but we always rent either at an airport or in the biggest office in a major city. My understanding is that in smaller towns there is usually a much smaller selection - often fewer rentals by american tourists - and most european are used to - and rent - standard transmissions (largely due to the much higher cost of gas)
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Nov 6th, 2010, 11:42 AM
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I don't think one can say it is true at all across the board that rental cars are more expensive in Europe than the US. I know lots of places in the US where an economy/subcompact rental car costs around $40 a day, even if you rent it for several days. It does where I live (Wash DC), and I now I've paid that much on vacation in various places, also, like California. This Thanksgiving I'm paying $246 for a subcompact rental in Florda for only five days, and that was the best rate among several.
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Nov 7th, 2010, 10:37 AM
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Because I rented in Sicily where accidents and thefts are more prevalent I was told that I really should have all of the insurance as opposed to using my credit card coverage-I spent almost $1000 for 10 days for an automatic Mercedes 180 diesel(think very small) which allowed me to basically walk away from the car if anything had happened. I had thought that $100 a day was expensive but then started checking other rental car dealers and realized that I got a deal.
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Nov 7th, 2010, 11:26 AM
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I don;t think car rentals in europe are esp expensive- but then I'm comparing to NYC. Ii know there are places where cars are much cheaper - but here, even with corporate discounts, a mid size car is at least $80 per day (no insurance) - I would be amazed at getting a car for $40 a day anywhere.
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Nov 7th, 2010, 11:37 AM
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Cheap when booked ahead, has automatic transmission for those who can't drive a car.
logos999 is offline  
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Nov 7th, 2010, 11:42 AM
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188€ per week, seats two or one with a little more luggage. ;-)
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