Self drive cars vs Ola cabs/Uber: Which is better and when? - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Self drive cars vs Ola cabs/Uber: Which is better and when?

My typical roadtrips involve renting a self-drive car in one of the cities and drive around in it. This usually costs Rs 1500- 2000+ per day in rental (depending on type of car) plus fuel,another Rs 500 a day approx.

During my last weekend's trip to Madurai, there were no self drive options, so I had to look for alternate options. I used city bus in couple of instances and used Ola for rest. This post compares pros and cons of both modes of options.

Situations where self drive is favorable
Self Drive
High Availability
Once I get the car, it is always with me, so no need to wait for a cab
Need to book each time, with waiting time of 5-10 min approx, subject to availability and surge pricing etc
Long drives
If I plan to go long distance- say Madurai to Kodai or so- 100-200 kms, self drive is lot economical (rental+fuel) than per km + per min fare of Uber/Ola
Ola/Uber is mostly not available for outstation trips. Regular taxi rentals cost more.
Seats 5 (small car/sedan)
Seats 4 (small car/sedan)
Carry more
With a car at my disposal, I can check out early or carry more goods, which will stay in car while I go out
Can’t carry too much if I plan to hire multiple rides
Enjoy the driving
I can enjoy driving (when not stuck in traffic
Can’t drive
Better cars
Can experience more premium cars
Mostly standard taxi vehicles- Indica, Indigo, Etios and Dezire

Situations where Ola/Uber is favorable
Self Drive
Need to pay for parking and spend time
Just hop off and enter, no need to worry about vehicle entry fee, parking fee, security etc.
Airport to Airport
If self-drive agency doesn’t have a base in airport, will have to spend a few hundred reaching their address from airport
Can be hired from airport to airport
Share a ride & Save
Can’t be shared. Full expense even if one person
Share option, where available, can save extra money
Accident Damage
Have liability up to Rs 5000 in case of any damage to vehicle (Read my experience here
No risk/liability to passengers
Human factor
With self drive car, I am on my own
With a taxi rental, I can speak to driver to find out what’s latest in town or what is best thing to do etc , and improvise on my plans based on his/her inputs.
When I have to drive, need all my time and attention on driving
With a driver, I can focus on other things- taking a nap or putting status update or calling family or refining my plans etc
Fixed and variable Costs
When I rent a car for a day, amount I have to spend is largely fixed, irrespective of usage. If I use too less, ROI is low
If I am not planning too much of  a driving and say just relax, then taking a few Uber/Ola rides may be lot cheaper than renting the car for whole day
Public transport
If I have a car to take care of, I can't leave it and use bus/train
Can use public transport where possible and save some more.
During my 24 hours in Madurai, I spent about Rs 800 on 6 to 7 Ola rides, which I hailed point to point on need basis. Ola cab fares were at par with what auto would have cost me (checked with few auto drivers for their fare before booking Ola- auto drivers randomly quote Rs 100/150 etc, Ola proved to be same or even cheaper in most cases) Overall the Ola experience proved to be lot cheaper than self drive rental (which costs about Rs 2000 a day for small cars) in this trip. But then, on the other side, if I had a car at my disposal I would have probably driven to Kodai or other attractions outside Madurai. Without a self-drive car I had to confine to city limits.

Summary: Self-drive is preferred if driving long distance/out of city or lots of back to back trips. Ola is convenient if it is just a few trips within city limits

What are your thoughts?

Similar: Buying a car vs renting *


  1. You have written well, and thanks for summarising the inputs. It was helpful in making my decision. Also, one more thing that would be good to add to your list is what to expect for things such as flat tire or if the car develops a snag for self drive cars.

    There are some companies that are now offering self drive car with the fuel costs included in the price (mileage and cost per km would depend upon which package you choose)

  2. Self driven cars are costly rather than ola/cabs ....
    Bcz self takes us per day 1500-2000rs. And the ola/Uber also takes 1500-2000 per day approximate......
    Now see..... In self driven fuel amount is our, toll taxes and parking charges also ...
    And where we use ola/uber there is no charges includes of fuel and parking......
    So, self driven is not costly v/s ola / Uber.

    Thank you 😊

  3. Great post, in my opinion self drive is not good because they don't have much experience than professional outstation cab drivers. Always go with cab drivers for your outstation trip. Thank you, keep on sharing.


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