AutoSlash.com: Car Rental Price Search Engine

It’s always fun to find out new tools to save you time and money. Started by some regulars on the Flyertalk travel forum, AutoSlash.com is a website specifically made for car rentals. Yes, all the big guys like Expedia and Hotwire do car rentals. However, this one is a bit different.

First, you need to remember the unique quirk of car rental reservation systems. When you make a reservation at most car rental shops, you simply get a quote and make a non-binding reservation without giving any payment information. You can cancel at any time, without penalty. Heck, even if you just don’t show there is no penalty, besides the bad karma of knowing that you maybe messed up their inventory management for others.

Second, you add in the fact that for us deal-hunters, there can be hundreds combinations of discount codes, CDP numbers, and promotional codes that must be found to get the actual lowest rate on a rental. Autoslash uses computers to test out the codes in its database for you. The best part? It keeps checking every single day to see if it can get you a lower price. If it does, it automatically cancels your last reservation, books the new one for you, and sends you the new reservation code.

Last week, I was searching for a week-long rental in Orlando, FL next month. I checked the usual suspects like Expedia and was getting about $700 for a week-long rental of a mid-size car. Must be some huge event going on that weekend?! So I tried Autoslash.

  • Day 1 – I was bummed to see the lowest price was also $665.61 including all taxes and fees, with Payless.
  • Day 2 – I was rebooked on Dollar Rent A Car at $346.18.
  • Day 3 – I was rebooked again on Dollar for $320.41. Sweet!

The primary drawback that I can see is that they don’t support all the rental car agencies. Specifically, I did not see Avis or Budget in my comparison matrix. Also, the quality of their results depends on the quality of the coupon codes in their database. Basically, it may be possible to get a better deal on your own. However, given the fact that I can always cancel, AutoSlash does provides a very good baseline deal for almost zero work.

Comments

  1. The problem with this is it doesn’t take into account the business practices of the companies involved. I recently rented a car and was a nickel short at a 50cent toll booth in Florida. Thrifty billed me $25.00 (it was somewhere in the contract that they could) because they had to pay the toll.

    I also recently rented a car (different company) and turned down the insurance as my own auto and CC cover this adequately. They informed me that if I had a accident I would be billed for a daily rental for every day the car was out of service getting fixed.

    Got a bargain rental a few years back and the cars were at a lot five miles away and the shuttle to the lot was very hard to find.

    Any time I rent on price alone I have to deal with the bait and switch awaiting me at the rental counter.

    Bottom line, I just use one rental company that I like (Hertz). It is usually not the lowest price, but it is worth avoiding the aggravation.

  2. Wow, this is fantastic! I just made a reservation in San Francisco that was already $10 cheaper than the one I made a few weeks ago using Kayak. But within an hour, I got an email that said AutoSlash had found a discount code and a new reservation was made for another $50 less! Woo hoo!

  3. @ddelj: Except Discover, CCs provide loss-of-use coverage.

  4. @ddelj – I agree that some companies are really horrible, but they’ve varied by location for me. I’ve had pretty good experiences with most national chains. Heck, most of them are owned by the same mother companies now anyway. National, Alamo, and Enterprise all have the same owner. Budget and Avis. Hertz and Advantage.

    Hertz is actually #3 here:

    http://travel.usatoday.com/news/2010-11-16-businesstravel16_ST_N.htm

    That said, I really don’t know the “Payless” brand and was a bit reticent to rent there. In general, I find that if I’m a member of their frequent renter club or whatever they are nicer since I am likely a repeat customer.

    All charge for “loss-of-use” in the case of actual damage, especially when trying to get you to pay CDW/LDW. Cheaper places definitely tend to push the insurance harder, although again it depends on the manager of that branch and how hard they train the employees.

  5. Thank you! Excited to try this. Car rental searching drives me batty as I have no allegiance to any company an STILL can never find a decent price. Do you know if this works with a special category like a minivan?

  6. @Aari,

    It does indeed. When you first reserve a car, you choose the type of car (usually a category, like you said — “Honda Odessey or Similar”). When they find you a better rate, they will only do so within that category. Otherwise anyone who reserved a van or suv would immediately be re-booked for a 2-door golf-cart equivalent!

  7. Car and Driver had a brief article on rentals. It was not really consumer oriented, but they did publish a $308.12 bill (for 2 days) on a car they had been quoted $63/day on. They obviously just let National charge whatever they wanted to and let them hang themselves. http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/comparisons/11q1/rental-car_olympics!-comparison_tests

    @bb, thanks good to know. I had turned it down, but it’s galling to deal with.

    @Jonathon, thanks for the list. Good to know.

  8. This is pretty sweet….I always thought expedia was a little lacking in the car rental department and i usually just check out individual sites. Bummed to see Avis is not a part of this as I usually prefer them when I travel, but I’ll definitely check it out for my next trip.

  9. @ddelj AutoSlash does not try to steer you toward one company or another. We offer a range of options, and let you choose. If you like to book Hertz, then book Hertz through AutoSlash. We’ll automatically figure out the best Hertz coupons and discounts to apply to get you the lowest rate.

    Then we re-price your rental multiple times a day. If rates drop, we automatically re-book you at the lower rate. You really can’t lose–especially since we are 100% free.

    I’ll be the first to admit that experiences vary by company and location. That’s why we put the control in the hands of the customer, and then we just work to help them get the best deal possible.

    @Car Negotiation Coach – As far as some companies not being supported, we hope to have them all at some point. In the meantime, we offer a free service to track rentals booked elsewhere. Just click on the appropriate tab on our homepage and you’ll see what I’m talking about. We’ll notify you via email if rates drop so you can re-book at Avis.com or wherever. :-)

  10. @AutoSlash – Thanks for responding to comments. If I could make a suggestion, it may be to let users choose the list of car rental companies that they want to rent from. For example, I might like the lowest price from all the rental companies except Payless.

  11. @Jonathan We present a grid today with all the various companies and options, so the user can easily choose what works best for them.

    You can also filter by a specific company, so for example, the user above who only wanted to rent from Hertz could show options for Hertz only.

    We plan on adding user profiles eventually to allow users to define their preferences at a much more granular level.

    In the grand scheme of things, we’re just getting started. We’ve really only been launched a few months, and to be quite honest we’re growing very quickly. We have big plans for the site, so stay tuned!

  12. Justin M says:

    Tried it for an upcoming trip and have already saved $22 when Autoslash rebooked the next day. Now I am anxiously awaiting more delicious savings to show up in my emailbox.

  13. Brian H. says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I tried it and they found me a rate that I had already found, but maybe they’ll find something cheaper. I have also used rentalcarmagic.com in the past, and they seem to do a better job in finding the big discounts right away. I’m all for anything to make travel planning easier and cheaper!

  14. Just a tip, when going out of town and renting a car, its often times cheaper to take a shuttle to the hotel and rent the car there (with a reservation) and select drop off at the airport. While you typically pay the shuttle fee ($15-$30) my experience has been that the rental rate off site is about 35-65% cheaper than the rate at the airport.

    A recent trip to Orlando car rental at the airport was $500 for the week (yikes!) paid $220 instead by getting the car at the hotel next door to ours, and because they didnt have the car we reserved they gave us a free upgrade (smaller selection than the airport). We dropped the car off at the airport on our way home, so no shuttle fee there. Same experience in Anaheim last year. Airports frequently have special taxes on rentals (sticking it to the visitors) which is I believe a big part of the reason for saving.

    Another advantage of doing it this way is if the hotel charges parking, its usually free if you rented the car there, potentially saving another 20-$25 a day…

  15. @John Renting off-airport can definitely be a great way to save on your rental. Part of the reason for this is that both the rental companies as well as the local municipalities tack on lots of fees at airport locations. Some of these fees are per day, so it can add up–especially on longer rentals. We’ve detailed some of these here:

    http://www.autoslash.com/blog-and-tips/categories/fee-detective

    All of that said, I want to caution people not to automatically assume that renting off-airport is always cheaper. We’ve had customers book with us for over $900, and we’ve been able to drop their price by more than half.

    My recommendation is to book both on and off airport with us if either would work, and see what we come back with. After pricing tens of thousands of rentals, I can honestly say that the answer to which will ultimately be cheaper is, “it depends”.

  16. We just posted our new video to YouTube. You can check it out here:

    http://www.youtube.com/AutoSlashDotCom#p/f/0/FRt9xKfVY3U

  17. The rental car industry faces a completely different environment than it did five years ago. According to Business Travel News, vehicles are being rented until they have accumulated 20,000 to 30,000 miles until they are relegated to the used car industry whereas the turn-around mileage was 12,000 to 15,000 miles five years ago. Because of slow industry growth and narrow profit margin, there is no imminent threat to backward integration within the industry. In fact, among the industry players only Hertz is vertically integrated through Ford.

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