Unfamiliar with rental car's controls

Old May 6th, 2006, 07:40 AM
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Unfamiliar with rental car's controls

Rented a small economy so-called "automatic" Citroen two yrs ago in Paris & couldn't drive it out of the parking lot - odd 'blades' behind the steering wheel and an unusual system for getting into reverse gear. Too tired/confused/annoyed to figure it out so instead took a train to Rome. Will try another rental in a few weeks (Bordeaux) and fear the same problem. Any advice on what those 'blades' are? Is this car truly an automatic? How does 'reverse' work? Any assistance greatly appreciated!
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Old May 6th, 2006, 07:42 AM
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I may be being unduly naive here, but isn't this the kind of thing you ask the rental company when you pick the car up?
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Old May 6th, 2006, 07:47 AM
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Spectacularly bad and busy morning - no one was available to explain the operation
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Old May 6th, 2006, 07:54 AM
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Fair enough. Maybe you can email them in advance, or check the user's manual online?
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Old May 6th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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I sympathise. I once had to drive a very circuitous route round to get back to a rental garage because I couldn't work out how to get into reverse.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 08:01 AM
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Never having owned a car in my entire life, I have rented just about everything in existence, so maybe I am better about figuring unknown items out than most people, although I have been known to stop dead in the underground parking lot of more than one train station, as I realize that I am coming up to the exit barrier and have not figured out how to get the window down (the button is NOT always on the armrest/door side!). I have sometimes been given automatic cars in Europe (and BMW's and Mercedes) even though I am a "category A - ultracheap" renter, simply because I am a good customer and my usual rental places will give me whatever is not going anywhere else soon. Anyway, I found nothing unusual about any automatic car. As always, I just look at the configuration marked on the various levers, knobs or whatever, in any car that I take, and off I go.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 08:16 AM
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Thats the Citroen "Sensodrive" system. You have to put a button to put it in automatic mode, otherwise you have to shift with the paddles or the shift stick. There is no cluch. The rental place should have explained it do you so they certainly didnt do their job. Its specific to Ciroen. However, in France typically only larger cars have automatic transmissions so you might run into something a bit off again if you rent a small car. Heres a bit more info:

http://www.carpages.co.uk/citroen/ci...e_18_01_03.asp
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Old May 6th, 2006, 08:17 AM
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"push a button" not "put a button". typo
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Old May 6th, 2006, 08:17 AM
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Citroen has always gone their own way when it comes to car design. I'm not sure what those "blades" are, but they might be similar to the paddles used to change gears in F1 racing cars. Suggest you rent a Renault or some other make, and you will probably find it easier to adapt.

We all do this, but the worst time to get into an unfamiliar car is when you are tired and jet-lagged after a long flight. If at all possible get a good night's sleep and rent the car the next morning.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 08:43 AM
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Thank you one and all - this is very helpful information. Yes, they were 'paddles,' not blades, and language skills were not good enough to translate the owners manual in the car. Will likely upgrade to a more predictable vehicle - value is less important than the safety of my fellow drivers.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 10:17 AM
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If the car comes with an alarm system, insist on someone's showing you how it works. Once we rented a Renault Laguna for a few days, then turned it in and later rented a similar vehicle. Unfortunately, the second alarm system didn't work the same way, and we had a lot of trouble figuring out what to do with it.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 10:31 AM
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"... language skills were not good enough to translate the owners manual in the car."

I know the feeling. I always thought I could read French quite well until I got a flat tire on our rented Citroen C5. We were on a mountain road in Languedoc. Unlike other cars, I had to twiddle some levers to adjust the Citroen's suspension so that I could take the back wheel off. I had a lot of difficulty figuring out the instructions in the owner's manual.

However, every cloud has a silver lining. When I finally got the car jacked up and was trying to loosen the wheel nuts, a passing motorist stopped and gave me a hand changing the tire.

Anselm
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