Automatic car

I reserved an automatic car in Sorrento for one day in order to drive to the small town that my husband's family is from. The rental is with Hertz for an economy automatic (neither of us know how to drive manual cars). I hear all of these stories where people show up with a reservation and still don't get their automatic, how likely is this? I plan to be there when they open on the day I reserved the car to maximize my chances, any other tips?

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10846 posts

Should be OK since you will be first in line. But you are correct in that an automatic is only viewed as a preference and it is dependent on what is available. This is one reason we have always owned at least one car with a shift and insisted that our sons learn how to drive a stick shift. Be prepared.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7954 posts

Fifty-fifty to fat chance based on what I've seen people in line crying about. That's Europe-wide including major airports with a higher probability and larger inventory. I've never rented from Sorrento, but the time from just before closing to right after opening would seem to be insignificant.

Posted by Maryam
Washington, DC
560 posts

Even if you are there when they open, you may still end up with a stick although I cannot speak directly to the likelihood. There are courses that teach manual, and granted driving it well takes practice, I bet you could pretty much learn it in a day (at least enough to get by). Why take the chance? Learn manual, and not only can you quit worrying about it (and maybe save some money), you have added another skill set to brag about at cocktail parties.
There are also "courses" on YouTube and some other sites that may give you a crash course just in case.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

Before you go: If you know someone with a stick shift vehicle, get them to teach you how to drive it. It's just no big deal.
Rental car operations cannot be assured of having automatics on their lots since most cars they rent are not automatics.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

As a few others have said... find a patient friend and learn how to drive a manual. I have rented an automatic in England and Ireland (don't want to do the left hand thing) with no problem. But in Europe it is often cheaper and one less thing to worry about to rent a manual. I did rent an automatic in Amsterdam as I had my right arm in a cast, and also did not have a problem getting the automatic. Try to learn it if you can... after first gear, the rest is a breeze. Just take your time and in a few days you will have it down. I am teaching my grandson to drive my 6 speed Kia...just a good thing to know, plus he can drive me to the airport and borrow my car when I am in Europe:)))

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3303 posts

Good luck. Finding automatic cars outside of major locations (like airports) is not easy. Expecting an automatic car in the Economy category is even more ambitious because I have never never seen automatic rental cars in Italy that were lower than intermediate vehicles. I am actually surprised somebody told you you could have an economy with automatic transmission. You should check or better yet, as others have suggested, learn to drive a manual car. Rental companies don't have many on their fleet because they are hard to resell over there. Everybody over there knows how to drive manual cars because you can't even take the driver license test on an automatic car.

Posted by Danielle
Oak Park, MI, USA
17 posts

So wait even though you reserve an automatic, you might get a manual? That's crappy. What the heck are reservations even for, then? My husband and I do not know how to drive stick, and since we're leaving next Friday, we don't have time to learn. Not to mention that the only person in either of our families that drives a stick is my mother, and she's going to Italy with us. We are renting from Hertz, through AutoEurope, and picking up at the airport in Venice on 9/14. Has anyone had experience with these companies and this location?

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3303 posts

That is a good question. What are reservations for? That's what I told AutoEurope last month. I rented a minivan or equivalent from EuropCar through them, but when I got there, all they could give me was a Fiat Brava (which is a compact the size of a VW Golf), I had to drive 200 miles to find what I had paid for, 4 days later. Since you are renting from a larger location (VCE airport is the 3rd largest in Italy) you might have better luck.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10846 posts

The reservation in Europe means the same thing as it does in the US. A significant percent of my rentals in the US are not what I reserved. The car companies are dependent on what is on hand and have little control over the inventory other than the numbers of cars. They get what shows up so you need to be prepared for that. On our last trip to Rome (May) we had requested a stick shift diesel and got automatic diesel. You can call it crappy but you are in for some disappointments if you expect everything to be exactly as your requested.

Posted by karen
Long Beach, CA, USA
110 posts

In another lifetime, I spent a summer at a rental agency and it's true. The "reservation" is more of a request. We were dependent on the cars that were turned in. If someone had your car but didn't turn it in that day, I didn't have anything for you. However, we would take deposits on the vans and luxury cars. That way, the agency was willing to sit on a car to forgo the rental fees we could earn by renting that car for the day(s) before your pickup. Most people didn't want to do that though so they took their chances. The same thing technically could happen when you show up to the hotel and your king non-smoking has become a double smoking with a parking lot view.

Posted by Janet
Plympton, MA, USA
27 posts

We always rent an automatic but have always picked them up at the airport in Rome or Florence. Usually we reserve a compact and a few times we have received a full size instead at the same price. 2 years ago we had to wait at the Florence airport for the car to return, maybe they only have one. Funny story, one year we dropped the car off in Venice and the girl waiting on us did not know how to drive the automatic so she had to get someone else to check the car in. Only in Italy...

Posted by karen
Long Beach, CA, USA
110 posts

Janet, I had that happen all the time at the rental agency. I don't have your Geo Metro but take this Nissan 240sx. Or, your Ford Tempo isn't here, would you like the Lincoln Towncar? I never, NEVER had a taker on the 15 pass or 20 pass vans though. You think driving a stick is hard? Try driving into a service drive to pick up a passenger in a 20 pass van and then backing back out again. Ugh. I hated those things.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3303 posts

In another life, during college, I worked as an accountant at a Fiat dealership service in Florence. It was the only one authorized to service automatic cars (of any brand) in all of Tuscany at the time. Our only customers with automatic cars then were US servicemen serving at the Camp Darby NATO base in Pisa (50 miles away). Our lot was full of Buicks, Cadillacs and the likes.

Posted by Janet
Plympton, MA, USA
27 posts

Roberto, I can't imagine driving a Buick or Cadillac in the hill towns of Tuscany. We usually stay in San Gimignano and a compact car can barely fit through the archways to reach the hotel.