11 Hot Tips for Alamo Car Rental in LAX

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Have you ever though of taking a leisurely drive along one of the best coastal roads on the planet? I’m talking about a Road Trip along the Pacific Coast Highway in California. If so these tips for an Alamo car rental in LAX airport may be your best starting point.

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A self drive road trip is one of the best holidays money can buy. You have the freedom to go and see anything you want, anytime you want. You can stick to the main tourist route, or avoid it completely.

On your road trip you can change the itinerary at the drop of a hat if something catches your eye. And a great, no-fuss way to have a road trip is to hire a rental car.

On our family’s California Road Trip we hired a medium-sized SUV from the car rental company “Alamo” at LAX Los Angeles International Airport. After comparing the prices, terms and conditions of several major car rental car companies, Alamo came out on top, all things considered. And importantly we read heaps of Alamo rental car LAX reviews, and they seemed positive.

We then drove our rental car around California for 17 days and had a wonderful family travel adventure. Along the way we discovered a few do’s and don’ts for hiring a rental cars at LAX.

Alamo Car Rental in LAX Driving the hire car to Glacier Point in Yosemite
Spectacular road side scenery in Yosemite National Park.

Booking on Rentalcars.com

Google searches all seemed to point us to one place for the best priced car hire at LAX – rentalcars.com. Here we found some great deals. They also have a phone app which seems to offer the same results as Google searches.

As an international customer I found that the deals offered to us included many extras which were not available on the hire car company’s own web-site.

By booking our Alamo car rental in LAX through rentalcars.com, we were able to get some great free extras including collision damage waver, unlimited miles and extended protection. These extras would have added some hefty extra costs if we booked directly on Alamo’s company website.

Alamo Car Rental in LAX Driving to Yosemite NP
Magnificent road side stop in Yosemite National Park

Using My Overseas Drivers License in USA

It is absolutely necessary to research the licensing requirements for your home country. Coming from Australia I discovered that all I needed to do was hold a valid driver’s license and produce it when I picked up the car. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Makes me wonder why I paid for an international drivers license before I left Australia! Be sure to research the license requirements for your home country, because the rules do vary depending on where you are from.

Alamo Car Rental in LAX Driving the hire car to Sequoia NP California
Roadsite stop to throw snowballs in Sequoia National Park

Which Size Car to Rent

Naturally you need to size the car according to the number of people in your group. Too small is uncomfortable. Too big may be wasting money. You also need to size your car to suit your luggage requirements.

For instance, I really wanted to hire a Mustang convertible for that iconic Californian road trip experience. And my LAX rental car research found heaps of Mustangs available for hire. However, a Mustang only fits 2 small cases according to the rentalcars.com website. Our 2 large cases would not have fitted, lucky I did my research!

Since we were travelling with 3 people and 2 large suitcases, we chose the mid-size SUV class instead. On rentalcars.com it clearly states the luggage capacity of each class. For the budget conscious, the smallest car possible to fit the luggage would offer the best deal.

We found there is a large jump in price from standard SUV to large SUV, from US $522 per week to $731 per week. So this little bit of research saved us $507 in rental cost, not to mention extra gasoline costs for the bigger car.

The sizes available on rentalcars.com are:

  • Small Car – 5 people, 1 large case, 1 small case
  • Medium Car – 5 people, 2 large cases, 1 small case
  • Large Car – 5 people, 3 large cases
  • Convertible – 4 people, 2 small cases
  • Premium car – 5 people, 3 large cases
  • People carrier – 9 people, 5 large cases
  • SUV – 5 people, 3 large cases
Alamo Car Rental in LAX Parking our Hire Car at Morro Bay
Our medium sized SUV was the perfect size

Terms and Conditions

Here are the main Terms and Conditions included for free in our Alamo rental LAX deal:

  • Unlimited miles
  • Full collision damage waiver (covers cost of damage, loss or theft of vehicle)
  • Extended protection (third-party liability protection)
  • All taxes and fees
  • Free cancellation

Overall we felt we got a pretty good deal. Back in Australia we would normally be slugged about half the hire car cost to reduce the huge insurance excess. I have to say we found that LAX rental cars much cheaper than Australia.

Alamo Car Rental in LAX California Car Road Trip Twin Peaks San Francisco
Twin Peaks in San Fransisco is easily accessible by car.

Hiring a GPS with the Rental Car

Hiring a GPS through the car rental company would have cost about $8 extra per day, or $136 for our 17 day road trip. Instead of paying $136 for GPS rental we chose to purchase a 4.3” Tom Tom GPS outright for $95 from Target upon arrival, since we don’t own our own GPS.

The nearest Target store was only about a 10 minute drive from the hire car depot and easy to find. Not only did we save ourselves $41, we also have a GPS for our next trip to USA. Another option is to bring your own GPS, just be sure to pre-load it with USA maps!

Before leaving home I pre-printed a Google Map showing the route from the Alamo depot to Westfield Calvert City Mall. But to make life even easier the man at the Alamo Counter was nice enough to draw me a mud-map to Westfield Calvert City Mall.

With his local knowledge the new route was slightly quicker and easier than the Google Maps route. So it’s a good idea to research your nearest GPS store, then ask the counter staff for directions.

By the way, this does not only happen when you get a car hire at LAX. This is a worldwide car hire trap, so be careful wherever you are.

Alamo Car Rental in LAX Driving around San Francisco
Navigating around San Fransisco suburbia

Shuttle Buses from LAX to Alamo

The shuttle bus from LAX to the Alamo depot was very efficient. We missed a bus by seconds when we first arrived at the bus stop. Not to worry, we only had to wait 10 minutes for the next free shuttle bus, then it was just a 10 minute bus ride to the pick up point. The bus driver even helped all the people to lift their heavy bags onto the bus. It was a very smooth trip, well done Alamo!

The rental car return at LAX was even more efficient. There was no paperwork involved when dropping off the car, just leave the key in the car and jump onto the bus. There were two buses waiting and we left within 1 minute of me hopping onto the bus.

Overall it was less than 5 minutes from driving in the front gate of the Alamo drop off centre to driving back out again in the bus. Very impressive service, well done Alamo!

Picking Up Your Rental Car

Picking up our rental car from Alamo at LAX was an interesting experience. The man at the pick up counter was very efficient. The whole discussion and signing procedure took all of about 3 minutes. In fact is was so fast that I was left scratching my head, thinking “is that it?”.

He instructed us to proceed to the pick-up bay and informed me that we could choose any car we want out of the line-up. Keys are in the cars.

Then it felt like a mad race, where all the customers were trying to get the best car in the line-up. There were about 20 cars in the medium SUV line-up, and about 5 other customers looking for a rental car at the same time as us. We felt like we had to beat those other guys to find the best car.

We took the most comfortable looking car, a nice Ford Edge Titanium with leather trim and a classy entertainment system. Alas no console GPS in this, or any other cars in our medium SUV lot.

It was a pleasant experience compared to hiring a car in Australia, where the car rental company chooses the car for you, and hands you the key.

Alamo Car Rental in LAX California Car Road Trip in Sequoia NP
Interesting driving in Sequoia National Park

Gas Stations

I was warned by one of my Australian friends that US gas stations are very different to Australian gas stations. In Australia we pull up to the fuel pump and the console operator turns on the pump remotely. Then you fill up your car. Then you go in and pay. It is very different to the United States.

In the United States you need to pull up at the pump, then go in and pay the console operator. If you suspect it’s somewhere around $30 to fill up the fuel tank, just pay $40 to the console operator.

Then walk outside and fill up your car. After filling up you simply walk back inside and collect your change. Easy when you know how.

Alamo Car Rental in LAX California Car Road Trip in Sequoia NP
Spotting bears along the road in Sequoia National Park

Research the Road Rules

Traffic rules are very different in California than in Australia. First of all there’s the obvious differences, like driving on the left side of the road. But there are also major differences with “give way” rules at intersections.

In California there is an “All Stop” traffic rule where all cars stop, then the first car at the intersection proceeds first. Don’t try this in Australia or you may end up with a fender bender! We have very different “give way” rules.

The lesson here is to research the local traffic rules before you start driving. In California I went onto the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) website and they have a wonderful video series to explain the basic rules.

It took me about 40 minutes to learn all I need to know to drive safely. Not doing this can be a risky and frustrating mistake. This is probably the most important step of the whole car hire process, knowing how to drive safely and obey the road rules.

Alamo Car Rental in LAX California Car Road Trip near Monterey
Driving around the Big Sur region

Rental Car Return at LAX

After 17 days of driving through California our car was a little dirty and the front bumper was full of bugs. So I called Alamo and enquired on how clean the car must be upon return. “In the same condition as when you picked it up” they told me.

I asked what is the penalty if it is not as clean as when I picked it up. “That will cost you a $250 cleaning fee” they told me. So I spent 2 hours and $8 going to a car cleaning centre for a clean and vacuum. It was spotless when I finished cleaning.

When I dropped the rental car at LAX off the attendant asked me if I washed the car. “Of course I did”. “Why did you do that” the attendant asked, with a funny look on her face. I explained my phone call the previous day, and my aversion to paying a $250 fine. She laughed and asked me to look around.

“All the cars are dirty, yours is the only clean one” she joked. “You don’t have to clean the car, next time just return it dirty and there will be no extra cost” she advised me. Now I know. Next time I do a rental car return at LAX it’s not going to be so clean.

Alamo Car Rental in LAX California Road Trip in Morro Bay
Otters can be seen from the car park in Morro Bay

Overall Experience

Our rental car experience was a overall pleasant one. But we did have some minor hiccups. Here are a few of the minor dramas we experienced along the way. None of these were serious enough to upset our trip.

  • First time we went to start the car we could not figure out how to do it. We had to read the book, and learned that the keyless start won’t work unless you touch the brake lightly.

Lesson learned: Be ready to read the book in the glove compartment of the car.

  • We did not know that cleaning the car was unnecessary when returning the car.

Lesson learned: Ask at the counter when you first hire the car, what how clean it must be when you return the rental car at LAX.

  • In Australia the speedometer is always about 5% below the actual speed. Not so in USA, the speedometer is exactly right.

Lesson learned: Drive to the GPS speed to be sure.

Alamo Car Rental in LAX California Road Trip in Yosemite NP
Even roadside stops can be fun in Yosemite.

Hot Tips for Getting Rental Cars at LAX:

  1. Choose a car with a reversing camera, they are priceless.
  2. Learn how to use the cruise control quickly, if fitted. Read the instruction manual for this. This may save you a ticket for speeding.
  3. Photograph the car extensively before you leave the pick up location, especially all noticeable defects. There will be less chance of being charged for damage this way.
  4. Make sure you have a pre-printed copy of your agreed terms and conditions when you pick up the car. Then confirm that the counter staff honor these in your contract.
  5. Ask the front counter staff to draw you a map to the nearest shopping mall to purchase your GPS upon arrival. Also pick up you phone sim cards at the same time. It pays to do a little research of your own for the nearest location to buy these.
  6. Make sure you fill up at a gas station before returning the car. I found at least 4 stations very nearby the drop off point.
  7. Research Drivers License requirements before you rent.
  8. Research the road rules before you arrive, definitely before you pick up your Alamo car rental in LAX.
  9. Ask the counter staff what condition requirements there are for rental car return at LAX.
  10. Check the rental car website for number of suitcases and people which will fit in each size class, and choose you size to suit.
  11. Try the rentalcars.com site if you are from overseas, it will probably give you extras not available on the car company’s website.

Alamo Car Rental in LAX California Road Trip in San Francisco

Facts and Figures for our Alamo Rental Car at LAX

  • Booking agent = rentalcars.com
  • Company = Alamo
  • Pickup address = 9020 Aviation Blvd, Inglewood, California
  • Car = Ford Edge 5 seat, automatic with air conditioning.
  • Cost = $45 per day, $95 Tom Tom 4.3″ GPS from Target, $8 cleaning
Alamo Car Rental in LAX California Road Trip in Silicon Valley
A necessary road side stop at Facebook HQ Silicon Valley.

Terms and Conditions for our Alamo Rental Car LAX

You should get the below inclusions for free. If we can do it, you can too!

  • Intermediate SUV Auto A/C – Ford Edge(RAV4 equivalent)
  • Unlimited miles included
  • Full collision damage waiver included (covers cost of damage, loss or theft of vehicle)
  • Extended protection included (third-party liability protection)
  • All taxes and fees included
  • Free cancellation
Alamo Car Rental in LAX California Road Trip in Sequoia NP
Entering Kings Canyon National Park.

Here are a few ideas to spice things up along the way.

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