Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Self Drive Car rentals in India- A complete Guide

Updated March 19th, 2014:
Added Zoomcars and refined Hertz section, downgraded Avis.

The concept of self drive is slowly picking up momentum in India. Unlike west, manpower is pretty cheap here and coupled with the facts that driving in India is best left to professional drivers, the idea of self drive car rentals doesn’t seem to have really taken off. While in every street you’ll find couple of travel agencies offering Sumos, Qualis and Indicas for rent, the number of car rental agencies who dare to give their machines on self drive is very very few. Also, driving is not considered a respectable job and drivers are treated at par with watchmen, cleaner and such other unskilled or semi skilled jobs. Many of us do not have an idea what self drive is and if that option is really available in India.
BMW 320d from Zoom
I took my first self drive rental way back in 2008 (Skoda Octavia from Carzonrent- My trip experience). And thereafter have rented close to 50+ cars from various agencies in different cities. Based on this experience and general observation and knowledge, I am listing some notes which will be useful to travelers considering self drive options in India.

Quick Navigation:
Advantages of Self Drive* Risks involved in self drive (in India) * Suggestions to those planning to take cars on self drive rentals in India * My feedback on Hertz India (Carzonrent)* Eligibility for taking cars on Self drive * Companies renting cars on self drive in India

Advantages of Self drive:
1. You get an extra seat
2. If you enjoy driving, it will be better experience driving yourself
3. Some intercity highways are pretty good-one can enjoy driving.
4. It gives privacy
5. In many instances, self drive works out cheaper than regular cab rental- particularly for long drives.

6. Sometimes cab drivers might be extremely stressed, due to several long trips and not enough rest in between. Some drivers also tend to be rash and negligent. If you’re confident of your driving skills, self drive might give you an advantage over these factors.
7. Automatic cars are also available, if you're not comfortable with Manual transmission.
8. Can be rented on hourly/daily/weekly or even monthly basis- easy booking process on zoomcar & Carzonrent

Risks of taking a vehicle on Self drive in India:
1. Liabilities: If anything goes wrong you’ll be answerable, and there're lot of things which can go wrong (vehicle break down, flat tyre, accidents, road blocks, getting lost and so on). In a chauffeur driven rental, you can enjoy the ride while the driver will be responsible for both driving and overall care taking of the vehicle. If the vehicle breaks down you can leave the driver and his vehicle and continue journey in another vehicle. (if possible) With self drive, a small incident can ruin all the fun.

2. Rental companies usually buy the cheapest available variant of a car and the vehicle may not have basic safety facilities or convenience accessories. 
Update: This may not be true always- I find mid to top variants on offer these days. Do check with rental company if you're very particular.

3. As per RTO norms vehicle given on self drive will have yellow numbers on black background. With Hertz sticker and this yellow number plate, rest of the road users take it as a taxi and the driver is taken for granted as an experienced taxi driver. So you may not get the respect of a car owner and since your expertise as driver is taken for granted you won’t get much consideration on the road either.

4. Driving in India is an art. Besides knowing how to drive you also need a strong mouth. When two vehicles touch each other, irrespective of whos fault it is, one driving the expensive vehicle is held guilty by default. You'll need a strong mouth (and muscle too, sometimes!) to survive an argument.

5. Besides knowing how to drive, you should also know the roads to take and knowledge of local language will be essential if you wish to take help from localities during the journey. (Zoomcars will have tablets for easy navigation and maps on your mobile are fairly accurate these days)

Is it advisable to take cars on self drive in India?

If you enjoy driving, if you're tempted by the advantages and are comfortable with the risks listed above, then you can try self drive in India. If you're risk averse and wish to play safe, go for regular taxi rental

If you plan to take cars on self drive in India:

1. Take a car made by either Maruti/Tata or Mahindra if going on long trips. These manufacturers have dealers all over India and if something goes wrong finding help will be easy. I am not saying don't take other cars- just be informed that service network for other brands is poor. Shouldn't be an issue if you drive around city only, or when a car is fairly new

2. Insist on a relatively new vehicle which is less than 2-3 years old and that vehicle should have relatively newer tyres. (Most of the cars with Carzonrent and Zoom are pretty new)

3. Take a vehicle with high ground clearance. Most of the Indian roads will be in bad condition and may have unscientifically designed humps. Vehicle with low ground clearance will make driving tough.

4. Driving in India is not as easy as driving in other countries. Attributes for this are many-bad roads, irresponsible follow road users who might make unpredictable movements, lack of road sense, not having proper navigation facilities.

5. Consider keeping an Indian friend as co passenger (preferably one who knows local language and also knows driving)

6. Take rental from a reputed company. Some operators may resort to unethical practices like charging a huge amount even for a negligible scratch, handing over a vehicle which is in bad condition, refusing to reimburse you if you had to spend money replacing a faulty spare, renting out vehicles without genuine documents etc.

7. If you need to rent a vehicle for months, better to buy a second hand car, use it for few months and sell off again. Check with a used car dealer for this.
Ertiga from Carzonrent
Eligibility to take cars on Self drive rental in India

1. A driver’s license (India or International, LMV) which is min 2 years old and without any endorsements

2. Age 23+ (it was 25+, recently brought down to 23 by Hertz, with some other operators it is still 25+)

3. A credit card with sufficient credit limit (A security deposit ranging from 30k to 1 lakh could be blocked on your card by Hertz, depending on value of the car). Zoom doesn't charge any deposit and private operators accept cash but insist on original Passport or other documents.

Terms and Conditions you should be aware of:

1. Please check with rental company on limitations on No of kms, if any and additional charges- Zoom's rental includes about 250kms worth fuel per day and a per km charge thereafter, some operators put a max cap of 200 or 300kms a day.

2. Car will be delivered full tank and needs to be returned full tank. Else 15% extra on fuel filled by the company- (This is not applicable in case of zoom, some private operators give empty tank and ask you to return empty).

3. Insurance is provided against theft, accidents and major damages. However renter will have to compensate the car company in case of minor damages (dents, scratches etc) which can’t be claimed under insurance.

4. If there’s a fault with the vehicle and if you replace the spare, car rental company will reimburse the expense (Condition: Not when damage is due to reasons like driver’s negligence, driving on bad roads etc.)
Check with respective rental agencies for complete list of terms and conditions.

Whom to contact for self drive car rentals in India?

There’re very few companies which give cars on self drive in India. So your choices are fairly limited. Only if the awareness about self drive increases, we can expect more players to come in, bringing in more options and cutting down prices.

Option 1. Zoomcars - Only in Bengaluru as of now, expected to open in other cities soon. Zoom has huge collections of vehicles all around Bangalore. Unlike others, Zoom is a pure play self drive company and this 1 year old start up has been expanding rapidly Read my complete review of ZOom here.  You need to sign up in advance- pls use
 referral code X9PDcd

Option 2: Carzonrent (Hertz India franchisee) is the leading one. Carzonrent has relaunched their self drive initiative with MYLES- now the cars are pretty cheap and options are good. They've cars all over India. Read my Chennai rental experience here 

Option 3. Autoriders: Their rates are slightly cheaper than Hertz, but do not have much options. Ford Ikon is the best car they have on self drive, as per their website. They haven't responded to my enquiry since weeks.

Option 4. Eco Rent a car -In and around Delhi

Option 5. Avis -Avis was once my preferred option, but not any more. The options they have and the rate they charge are just not worth it. Their rentals come two times the amount charged by Carzonrent. I've stopped using their services currently. Hopefully they will soon refine their self drive portfolio
Avis Ford Endeavor- Now discontinued
Option 6: Individuals: If you can scan local newspapers or web forums, you may come across individuals who have a vehicle or two on offer for self drive. They are usually vehicle owners who may wish to make some extra money out of their cars. Such cars are usually well maintained and really Cheap (Someone in Bangalore was offering Ford Ikon for Rs 3000 for weekend (Friday evening to Monday morning) which is quite cheap- Hertz charges nearly 3 times that amount). Downside here is that the deal is unofficial and often based on mutual trust. Not much clarity exists about insurance, how much you may have to compensate if there's a damage etc. Not much paper work either.

There are other city specific operators- like in Pune

Go to TOP

Finding a self drive car rental in Bangalore-another detailed account

Please feel free to share your ideas/experience/suggestions in this regard.

Related post: Hyderabad-Bengaluru by bus-Comparison of operators * Skoda Octavia self drive experience * Zoomcar Impact on Hertz & Avis * Zoomcar anniversary *


Joel said...

Hmmm...Those are really good tips you have given. You've covered up everything what had to told...
Thanks for those tips.. :)

Rajesh Kumar said...

Excellent post. You should make it a downloadable PDF, a ready reckoner kind of thing. I can already see another winner-of-a-post from you.

Shrinidhi Hande said...




Thanks. Will think of providing a pdf version.

Srinivas said...

Excellent summary!

I took a car on self-drive a month ago from Autoriders and I am extremely satisfied with the experience. Their people are very helpful and they let me pick up the car at Pune and drop it off at Mumbai. I got a diesel Indica in good condition which had done around 30K kms.

The booking process (with any provider) is painful, requiring multiple calls, confirmations and follow-up: none of them allow web-based booking.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Dear Srinivas,

Thanks for sharing your experience. So one way rental also available in India...

I could do booking within couple of email exchanges-didn't find it painful.


Nikhil Narayanan said...

Thanks for sharing this info.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hi Nikhil,

Thanks for visiting by and for link in Desipundit...

gbristow said...

This is very interesting article.I always had my doubts about"self drive" and wanted to know more about it.Your words in this post clearly state that, you strongly believe in yourself and have complete knowledge self drive car rentals in India.The point"Advantages of self drive" was elaborate enough and well versed.
Gary Bristow
RateTag - India's World Class Online Shopping Mall - Experience the Magic. Buy Mobile Phones, Computers, Electronics, Gifts, Flowers, Apparel, Shoes, Toys, Video Games, Music, DVD, Software, Digital Cameras, Musical Instruments, Camcorders and thousands of other products.Online Shopping of Gifts to India

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hi Gary,

Just like Diana's comment, me yet to decide what to do with your half spam and half legitimate comment...

Anonymous said...

It's Maruti not Maruthi

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Oops! Corrected. Thanks

Swami Nathan said...

I think you have done a fabulously fantastic job of going thru every detail. kudos. very well done indeed.

Swami Nathan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Swami Nathan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shrinidhi Hande said...

HI Swami nathan,

Thanks. deleted your repeated comments

Sanjaya H S (Hasthak) said...

Good writeup. Thanks.
Anyone in Mumbai renting a Innova for this monthend (3 days)?
contact me on 9820638705 - Sanjaya

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hi Sanjay,

A comment here may not fetch a reply. Check local newspapers for classifieds...

Narayan said...

Very Informative indeed. Thnx.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Narayan

Anonymous said...

HI Nidhi,

Excellent peice of information and a lot of help for others to be cautious. You gave a real gud check points.



Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Sreenath

Thejesh GN said...

Thanks for the post. Extremely useful. I am planning to rent out one for my next drive.

Adarsh B Hegde said...

Hi Shrinidhi Anna this is a great post. Very helpful. But I wanted to know which option is best if i want to hire cars like Santro or Indica for one whole month in bangalore.

Shrinidhi Hande said...


Good to see you here. Hertz had quoted 1.1 lakhs for Scorpio 45 days rental. So for Santro/Indica it should cost about 20-25k per month-check and negotiate with the agencies.

For long duration rental-say multiple months- another option will be to buy a used car, use it for few months and sell off- at times depreciation could be less than rental amount.

Pratap said...


Wonderful post. Actually i have plans to visit places in Karnataka. Since i have moret han 7 guests, going by my own car is ruled out. I was searching for self driving options, found your post as an oasis in the Desert. Awesome. Thanks to such nice helpful post.
Definitely helpful to many like me.
Keep writing such.

Thanks Again!!!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Enjoy your drive and tell us which one you rented, from whom, how it went etc...

Pradeep said...

Superb!! ultimate post..keep it up

Shrinidhi Hande said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Pradeep

vaibhav said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vaibhav said...

A pioneer in shaping the personal ground transportation industry in India, Carzonrent (India) Pvt. Ltd. (CIPL) is India’s # 1 personal ground transportation service provider today offering a complete bouquet of end-to-end long and short term car rental solutions through its fleet of 5000 cars across the country. A brainchild of Mr. Rajiv K. Vij, CEO, Carzonrent (India) Pvt. Ltd., was launched in the year 2000 with a short-term objective of offering a safe and reliable medium of travel to customers and a long-term vision of giving form and structure to the unorganized Indian personal ground transportation industry and helping the industry get its due recognition. “COR” the branding of Carzonrent signifies the fact that Personal Ground Transportation is the “Core” business of Carzonrent. Carzonrent is perhaps the first and the only player to offer complete 360 degree solutions to completely transform the Indian personal ground transportation industry into an organized business. Ensuring passenger comfort to the minutest detail, Carzonrent has pulled out all stops, from bringing in the latest technology to setting up 24x7 customer support centers; to bringing uniformity in operations; to introducing customized solutions for all customer segments, the company has focused all efforts towards organizing the largely unorganized Indian personal ground transportation industry. Services Offered:-
Airport Transfer,Chauffeur Drive,Self Drive,Limousine,Operating Lease
Driving Holidays, Corporate Travel,International Booking
For Reservation
Toll Free Number: 1860 500 1212
Single Number: (011) 4184 1212

Sanjeev said...

Dear Shrinidhi,

Hats off to you. After reading your article got a fair picture of self driven car rental procedures in India. Excellent stuff for the time taken for jotting down the line in details. By the way know of anyone providing self driven automatic cars like Honda City in Mumbai. If yes appreciate feedback

Shrinidhi Hande said...

you're welcome

hardik said...

Hi Nidhi,

Excellent post... Kudos to you:-).
Need some help though.... I am looking out to rent a car (selfdrive option) which can accommodate 8 people, however, ain't able to freeze on 1. I've chked it wit autoriders and they dont have any eight seater.. same is the case with others can u pls help me know where can i find one.... Thanks Hardik :-)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

which city?
Few agencies have Scorpio and innovas

YMI said...

Try wide variety of cars and totally dedicated to self drive cars rental

happy said...

hey.. very verrryy helpful post. thanks a lot buddy.. just wanted to ask u one last thing...
im goin for the same company for a self drive car.. but they are asking me for a photocopy of both sides of my credit card!!! did u give it too?is this ok? i understand giving the front side copy but giving the back side copy is like giving them cvv number too! please help. fast! :(

Shrinidhi Hande said...

WHich company? Hertz? Car club?

Usually they block an amount on the card which is fine

Don't let them have photocopy of both sides. If I give credit card copy, I take the photocopy myself and darken out the CVV part and few other details.

happy said...

im taking a self drive swift from which is the dealer for Hertz in delhi. so i can give them with cvv blurred. right?also how much deposit did u give for ur car? theyre asking me for 20,000 for swift.

happy said...

i am planning to take a self drive swift from which is a dealer for hertz in delhi.

please telme which details do u darken when giving the credit card copy. any idea as to wat is the minimum requirement for them to block the amount?

also they are not accepting debit cards..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Carzonrent are reliable people. I've rented from them 3 times- twice in Chennai and once in Bangalore- they're good.

Yes they block 20k, which is reasonable, since they;ll be trusting you with a 5 lakh Rs car.

Only credit card and not debit card is accepted-this is because if you own a credit card, it means in all probability bank has verified your address, income, identity etc and their risk is reasonably less.

deposit depends on value of the car, can start with 10k and go upto 30k. Avis people insist on deposits as much as 70k for higher end cars

Yes you can give photocopy with CVV blurred. Its a risky practice if it goes to wrong hands, but lot of airlines also insist on photocopy of credit card used to book tickets. Since most of the cards now have an additional 3Dsecure authentication for online transactions, its ok.

Chandrashekhar said...

Dear Srinidhi, thank you so much for the detailed article. Its very informative....!

Anonymous said...

Hey, something is wrong with your site in Opera, you should check into it.

Car Rental Services Delhi said...

Nice post sir, thanks for sharing. keep posting

Anonymous said...

I rented car from Autoriders for 7 days, they provided me INNOVA with 7 seater including driver. It was really nice trip and the service and response was excellent.


panwar said...

thanks a tonne nidhi,
a real all time handy info
keep it up.

MIB said...

Contact 9405026888 for self driven cars on hire in pune.

Alok said...

hey nidhi, gr8 article. Its a piece of gr8 research.
I am a car enthusiast and love driving cars myself no matter how long the journey is. I also am thinking of starting a business with the same thought in my mind (Self Drive rental) catering to niche market with niche vehicles.
Could you please help me with this regarding the risks involved and profitability of this business.

Kindly reply back on my e-mail
awaiting your response......


Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hi Alok

Which city you're targeting and how many cars/how much budget you plan to begin with?

Gowtham said...

An Informative post.

Shrinidhi Hande said...


Priyesh Khunteta said...

It seems that autorides is the only option that is available in Mumbai for self drive option and the best car available with them is Swift dzire :(

I have called almost everyone who has advertised on internet for car rental on self drive basis but in the end all replied that they dont provide the service anymore :(

btw avis too provide cars in Mumbai, but it was a bit on higher end for me :(

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Avis has said they're introducing Etios, Ford and few other cars soon in Delhi and Mumbai

Bangalore Selfdrive EON said...

If you are looking for Self Drive cars in Bangalore... Contact below mail id.

Where u will get Brand New Hyundai EON at Affordable price Aprox 1400/- per day.

Bangalore Selfdrive EON said...

Bangalore Selfdrive contact

Where u will get Hyundai EON for 1400/- per day.

Anonymous said...

what if the car company provides us whiteboard car on rent, and it mets with an accident - does the rental agreement still holds true.. as in tamil nadu only taxi no. vehicles can be leagally given for rent ?? please reply urgent and important.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

White board cars are not supposed to be rented out for commercial purpose.

Branded car rental agencies do not rent out white board cars. Some individuals do that.

In case of accident the terms are to be discussed between the renter and the owner. Usually owners insist renter pay for entire damage. They take Original passport/DL etc as security

Rikzu said...

Hi, we have a family owned truck renting business in India. We are planning on extending the business into self drive car rental as well. I see a lot of comments on this article from customers point of view. Do you all have any suggestions for someone who wants to get into this business as a vendor. Especially, legal aspects??

Shrinidhi Hande said...

One of my blog reader started a self drive rental business, but eventually sold off the cars and returned to US... He says he faced lot of issues with Goondas

There'll be some rogue customers who may not return the car on time or may not pay for damages etc.. You should have a mechanism to handle that

Anonymous said...

I need a car this saturday (14th july) for 1-2 days in Pune. Guys plz let me know if u have any authentic source who rents out the car on self driven basis.

sayak biswas

Vivek said...

Hi Shrinidhi,
Thanks for sharing useful info on renting cars for self drive.
Could you please provide the contact number and website address of Budget cars?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Try this address.. but their website is not operational- not sure if they're still in business

Budget Rent a Car
No 150,Kadabisanahalli,
Opp. J P Morgan Chase,
Behind Unwind Island Hotel,
Marathahalli -Sarjapura outer ring road,
Phone -080-41126711 Fax:080-41706306

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Sayak: try

Lnpk said...

Hi Nidhi, very informative article. Recently, I had learnt car driving on Alto (as I'm short person); now, planning to purchase a 2nd hand alto or similar car - in order to improve my car driving skills and to gain better control for 2-3 months. For the last 30 days, I had tried a lot to purchase car as said above. But unable to get the same. After reading your post - thinking of self drive car on Mini lease or long term rental basis. Is it a good idea ? Can I get any 800 cc or 1000 cc for a cheaper rent say 600-800 INR per day (assuming 2-3 months);

Right now, I'm in chennai. If you know any private party also fine. Some insights and contact details of any interested persons?

I'm reachable -;



Shrinidhi Hande said...


You'll definitely get under 1000cc car on monthly rental in major cities. Not sure which city you live in, just google for self drive rental in your city.

Instead of directly going for 3 month rental, I suggest take first for 2-3 days, to familiarize yourself with the process and to be sure that rental agency is good. Once you're comfortable, rent long term

Happy riding

Anuj said...

Hi Shrinidhi,
I today rented from carzonrent and was asked to take a permit in Noida (UP), because the car had Delhi registration. But I was refused registration by RTO stating that this is a commercial vehicle and i have a private vehicle license, I am not illegible to drive this. Have you come across this in any other state, or are you aware of legalities around this. Thanks in advance

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Carzonrent self drive cars will have a certificate authorizing self drive. Typically self drive cars will have yellow numbers on black number plate, but in delhi, they seem to be having regular black on yellow number plates.

Also, there is no need to go to RTO for interstate permit. Border areas will have check post where permits are issued- there is one near Anand Vihar bus stand.

May this year I travelled 5 states- Delhi, UP, Punjab, HP and Haryana without any problem with carzonrent self drive car

Hope this helps

Srini Bangalore said...

Very informative. Lot of people are getting the benefit of information as a result of the pain taken by few people like you in documenting your experience. Hats off !!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Srini

Mitali Mahadik said...

I suggest you to check through Voler cars in Delhi, When i had a visit in delhi normal car rate were starting from Rs. 30 per hour. I am suggesting you the same because i myself had a a car on rent from here.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Will try in Delhi next time when I have the opportunity

Anonymous said... is not a well established start up like zoomcar still they have traditional way of accepting the bookings where in a person will call you after the booking to confirm it. They change their rules of renting a car as per thier convinience. On new years they are not renting a car to youth. What a vague excuse. Suddenly they changed their age limits to 28 years from 31 to 2 Jan. What non sense and they automatically cancelled our bookings without informing us. They have miles to go to reach a zoomcar level but if they continue operating it in a desi style i doubt whether they'll reach that level. not recommend to anyone as you plan your trip and they can ruin it anytime

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for sharing the insights about - Yes, their process was complicated when I tried renting from them- like 0000 hours to 2330 was counted as one day- if you need from 1PM today till 1 PM tomorrow it was 2 days... lots of taxes were not declared upfront and would be shown only in subsequent pages, pickup/drop off charges were expensive etc. Wanted to try their Beetle, but things didn't work out

Viraj Shah said...

Thanks for the post your information is very usefull while traveling to other places, last time when i went to Delhi Volar Car Help me out with budget friendly cars like a Swift on self drive.

The Buddha Smiles said...

Thanks for the inputs,

Unfortunately, I was too late reading your blog. Dear SD,

I booked a Ford Figo online from (22 May-01 Jun 16) from Delhi. The car was leased out by Pannu Travels, who are one of the dealers for the company in Delhi. I took over the vehicle at 2000hrs on 22nd May little realising what lay in store for me . When they topped up the fuel, the indicator did not show that the tank was full. I indicated this to the boy who accompanied me from Pannu Travels to top up the fuel. He mentioned it was a faulty indication. However, on three different occasions when I topped up the tank, the indicator showed it as full. On returning the car in absolutely the same condition, their microscopic inspection started. And they found a small tear in the front tire which was supposedly not there when they handed over the car to me in darkness. In a very underhand and surreptitious manner Pannu Travels robbed me of Rs 3,800/- for a new tire and fuel they did not fill. I guess that is the way they earn their money. But I have promised to myself that I'll never use or recommend SelfDrives to anyone else. It's shameful and so cheap.


Rajesh Kumar said...

Thanks for the guide about Self Drive.
I belong to Hyderabad and i generally take Self Drive cars from Myles or ZoomCar in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam. Recently i see a small company expanding - Ganesh Self Drive Cars & Bikes in Visakhapatnam and the same had set their business in Hyderabad too recently.

I felt they are doing this better - Faster Deliver, Customizing the pricing plan as per our requirement, Transparent in Pricing, Easy Paper work etc., I was confortable with them in VIsakhapatnam (Vizag) and Hyderbad and getting car from them when in need.

Yes now the awareness has been increased and we see many guys coming in.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for heads up. Do they have yellow on black number plate?
Will keep in mind when I visit Hyd/Vizag next