The distance I will go to save money knows no bounds. I do whatever it takes to save money on flights, rental cars, or even an entire trip package. I will take advantage of random airline promos. Heck, I will even take a weekend trip to Europe if the deal is good enough. In my never ending quest to save money, this time I am checking out Turo.
What is Turo
Simply put Turo is like if a rental car company and AirBNB had a baby. Essentially it is AirBNB for cars. Unlike like your normal car-rental company, Turo does not own or maintain any cars itself. It is merely a platform which car owners can make some money renting out their own cars. Turo’s claim is that it cuts down on rental cots when compared to traditional car rentals.
Essentially, the user will book the car through the Turo app or website and will pick up the car based on the owners instructions. While some owners may drop the car off for you at the airport for free, other may charge for this service, while others may make you go offsite to their location for pick up. It allows for many different options.
How Does Insurance Work With Turo?
Insurance with Turo works almost like it does with a traditional rental car. At checkout Turo will offer you multiple different coverage options provided by liberty mutual to insure your rental. One thing you need to keep in mind, however, is this is not a traditional car rental. If you are like me I always decline coverage. Instead I opt for using the primary rental coverage that is offered by one of my credit cards (more on that in a later post). This is a bad idea with Turo, as generally most credit cards will not cover a Turo rental under your primary rental car insurace. You will need to buy insurance through Turo or opt to use your standard auto coverage.
How Many Miles do I get on a Turo Rental?
I drive a lot when I am visiting a new city. My goal is to see as many sites as I possibly can in a short period of time. So my big question was how many miles do I get on the rental? The answer is, it varies. As these cars are owned by individuals, they generally don’t give you the unlimited miles you expect when it comes to traditional rentals. While researching cars I have notice that on my 4 day rental I saw options ranging from 200 miles to 800 miles for my rental. It is important to make note of that because there are charges if you go over on miles, which again are set by the owner and can range from around $.35/mile to $1/mile.
My Turo Experience
I decided to try out Turo because Stephanie and I decided we were going to do long weekend in Las Vegas! When I went to rent a car rental prices seemed absolutely absurd. Even when utilizing Autoslash, I couldn’t find a rental that did not total between $200-$300 dollars. To this point I have always hesitated in looking at Turo, it has always been described as AirBNB for cars and as you know, I have some issues with AirBNB. But this seemed like the perfect time to see how Turo stacks up to a traditional rental. Especially if it saves as much money as it claims.
Booking the Car
The booking process, while straight forward, was definitely more complicated than a traditional rental car. There are so many options. In Vegas there were almost 200 different car options to book in Turo.
If you do not use their filer options you could end up spending over a day looking at cars. Their filter options are:
- Distance Included
- Host Rating
- Business Class Car (Exclusive Cars for those 25+ generally sports cars and Teslas)
- Deluxe Class Cars (Exclusively for 30+ including the highest end sports cars like Bentleys, Aston Martins, and even Rolls-Royces)
- Features (so you can specify whether you want features like AWD, Ski Rack, Integrated GPS, ETC.)
- Green Vehicle Filters
- Car Types
- Number of Seats
- Color; and
Honestly, unlike AirBnB which is lacking several needed features, Turo’s website is surprisingly well done. It allows you to customize your rental process how you see fit.
Despite the temptation to book a Porsche, I was going for economy. So I sorted my results by price. I ended up booking a 2015 Chevrolet Spark that included 350 miles from an “All-Star” host for $20 a day plus Turo’s Taxes and Fees.
Like Airbnb, the Taxes and fees were not included in initial price and they came out to be $18.99 for the entire trip. I used a $25 referral code, which made my 4 day rental $73.99. This was over a $150 savings from the cheapest rental car available at the time.
Picking Up the car
At $20 a day I didn’t mind that this car did not include airport drop-off. We ended up having to take an Uber from the Las Vegas Airport to the Host’s house. The ride was only about $15 each way, so even after the Uber Fees I was still saving significant money. Pick-up was actually just as seamless as the booking. After I provided identity verification (a photo of my drivers license) to the car owner through the app she sent me pick up instructions. Essentially she kept a lock box on the side of her house where Turo users can simply enter a code to unlock the box and pick up the keys.
However, you cannot simply drive away, before you start your rental in the app Turo makes you go through several steps for both Parties protection. It has you inspect the car, mark any damages, verify the odometer, and take pictures of each side of the car. Again, I did not mind this too much as I basically do this whenever I rent a car (as I suggest you do as well) because I didn’t do this and go screwed over by Enterprise in France (no, I am not bitter at all).
All in all it was a smooth 5-10 minute process to pick up the car and I did not interact with one human being!
The Turo Rental Itself
I would have to say this is where my impression of Turo goes south. My problem with Turo and why this rental, despite being dirt cheap, was a terrible experience is that you don’t know how well a Turo owner is going to maintain their car. While are certain maintenance standard Turo sets, the owner only has to abide by them if Turo learns of a quality issue with the car and specifically requests the inspection. So when you book, you need to pray that the owner of the car actually maintains that car properly. This was not the case with my rental.
Visually the car was in fine shape. Minimal scratches and dents, in good visual shape for a 4 year old car. However, internally the car was a mess. Something was seriously wrong with the steering column. If you left the wheel straight the car would go rather violently to the left. Almost to the point of a full left turn. In order to make the car go straight, you needed to hold the steering wheel about 45 degrees to the right. While this was annoying, I got used to it after some time, but that was the least dangerous of the car’s two issues.
The biggest issue was the acceleration. I don’t know if it was because of poor car maintenance or the extreme heat (it hit up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in vegas while we were there), but this car has the most unpredictable acceleration issues. Overall the acceleration was extremely weak, but that could just be the the make. The big issue was when I hit the gas in I did not know what would happen. I guess it fits the Vegas theme, it was gamble. About 80% of the time it would accelerate at a reasonable pace, albeit a bit slow. However, the other 20% of the time nothing would happen for a solid two to three seconds before the car would finally go.
This was extremely freaking dangerous. The first time it happened was completely unexpected and I was pulling out into traffic. I almost had someone barrel into me. Despite having sufficient time to get into the lane, the extra 2-3 seconds before the car moved caused me to cut him off. By the end of the trip I was extremely hesitant to anywhere without the protection of either a light or an all way stop. It became really hard to predict when the issue would occur and how much time it had to have the accelerator floored before the car would go.
Returning the Car
Returning the car was as seamless as pick up. I put the keys back in the lock box and the Turo app had my go through the process of marking off any new damage, taking pictures from each side of the vehicle, and verifying the odometer. No problem, easy peasy.
I let Turo know about the issue with the car I rented, and in their defense they responded quickly with an adequate response.
In all, if they follow through with what they claim, they are going to ensure that the all of the host’s cars meet Turo’s standards and requirements. While this is something that should have been done already and maintained on an ongoing basis, the response was sufficient. If I choose to give Turo another chance I will definitely utilize the $35 credit.
Turo, the AirBNB of cars, can save you a lot of money, but is it worth it? That is still a very tough question. The lax vehicle maintenance requirements could make Turo an extremely dangerous proposition. My rental was legitimately a death trap, but I could have booked a lemon. Personally, I will likely not be using Turo again unless I am really saving massive amounts of money or I indulge myself in renting a luxury car (as I would assume someone would make sure their Tesla is running properly). In all other circumstances I will go the traditional rental car route.