Monday, February 23, 2015

My Second Enterprise Adventure

We rented another car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car over the weekend for yet another trip to UCSF. I'd called them weeks earlier to make a reservation but couldn't remember if I was supposed to show up there at 1 or 2 o'clock on Saturday. Not that I think it matters much. As it was, I called them anyway to tell them I'd be in around 2pm. They didn't seem to care.

I went down Saturday around 2pm and give them my credit card and driver's license info. Quick enough. Then the gal says to just wait a bit while they get my car ready. Their car clean up guy was sitting at the back of the office. He got up, went out to the lot, got in a car and pulled it up next to the building where they do the clean ups.

I was a bit disappointed with the car he picked. A Toyota Camry(?). Not sure, but a little bigger than I'd prefer. I'd mentioned when I made the reservation I wanted an "economy car", but knew they pretty much just gave whatever car was available. This one was smaller than the last one we rented- a Chrysler 200- but still bigger than I would have liked.

What really confused me was why they waited until I showed up to get the car ready? I would think the way to do it would be to immediately clean it up after it's returned to get it ready for the next job. Why wait until someone shows up to get it ready? 

No biggie. I'm easy and, as it turned out, that got me a better car.

So the gal at the desk goes out with the guy for ten minutes or so and there I sit when another car drives up and pulls in behind "my" car. It was a smaller Toyota Corrolla. I thought to myself I'd really prefer that one, but I didn't say anything. 

The girl driving it happened to be one of the employees apparently having taken the car somewhere for some reason. Perhaps to take a customer home? 

After about 15 minutes the girl I was dealing with comes back in and asks me to come out with her to inspect the vehicle. They record any damage, gas level and all that stuff so there's no disagreement over the condition of the car. Much to my surprise, the car the other girl drove in is backed up in front of the office and "my" girl hops inside, starts the car and records mileage, gas level and such. Cool! I get the one I wanted. She gave me the key and I drove the car home.

Maybe they thought that car wasn't going to be back in time so went ahead and started getting the other one ready? Still, I would think it would be good operating procedure to get the cars ready to go back out as soon as they're returned from rental. Oh well. I was happy at that point.

The Car

Now I had to figure out all the unique operating stuff in the car. The newer cars are a bit confusing to me. One of the first things I noticed about this car was the same as many newer cars: the view out the rear window is wanting, at best. With the back of the car higher than the front, and the back window not every wide or tall, it's really hard to get a good view out the back. I don't like that at all.

I also hate this thing with newer cars where only the front driver's side door accepts a key. This one was just like the last in that regard. I also don't like the doors locking automatically when you start the engine, but maybe that's just me (my work truck does that). So, two things I'm not comfortable with but I also know that's just the way things are nowadays. Best get used to it.

When I got home I started looking at the dashboard. I couldn't see any way to open the trunk, although there was a button on the key that had a symbol for opening the trunk. That worked.

When we loaded up the next morning I suggested to the wife we're not going anywhere until we know how to open the hatch to the gas cap. I'd actually looked at the manual briefly but the type was too small for me to read easily. I asked Connie to grab the manual to see if she could find out how to open the gas latch.

She found it quickly, along with the location for the button to open the trunk from inside the car. Both were next to each other on the floor to the left of the driver's seat. Good to go. After loading, we left. As I backed up that LED screen, or whatever you call it, in the middle of the dashboard showed the rear view via one of those cameras on the back of the car. Hmmm??? Kinda neat, but I'm not sure I trust that camera view.

Now we have to figure out how everything else works.

First order was the air and air conditioning. I don't usually need A/C but I do like having the air on to make it fresh and cool. There was some button on the dash with a fan symbol on it. Pressed that but nothing happened. Pressed it again and again. Came on too strong then lowered as I fiddled with it. I wasn't sure what I was doing but somehow stumbled on getting it just the way I wanted.

Then the radio. We found the channel we wanted. Then we got on the freeway and I tried to figure out how cruise control worked. Pressed some buttons on the left side of the steering wheel and the radio got all screwed up. Ok, that's not it. Another one of those radio controls on the steering wheel, just as on the last car we rented. I wasn't interested in figuring that out yet. I told Connie she had to figure out how to get the radio back to normal using the controls on the dash. 

She starts fiddling with the radio. Can't figure it out and ends up saying, "How do you do this?". I tell her rather abruptly if I knew how to do it I would have done it myself(!!!). That's her job and she's got five and a half hours to figure it out. Shortly after that she got the right channel back. Later on we kinda figured how to do it pretty well, but I'm not gonna bother with the controls on the steering wheel.

I finally found the cruise controls on the steering column but couldn't quite figure out how they worked. Somehow I managed to get it to hold on my desired speed, but I wasn't sure how I did it. I stayed on cruise control for an hour or so before turning it off due to traffic. I wasn't quite sure how I turned it off, either. 

A few more hours down the road and I finally figured it out. You press the button on the end of the control. That starts the speed tracking. When you get the right speed figured you just tap the control rod down and it locks your speed in. There's a light on the speedometer that says SET when you've got it right.

I also noticed a green light on the tachometer that would light up and say "ECO". I figured that was the thing someone here mentioned earlier that tells you when you're using the right gas vs speed ratio. Kinda neat, but I'm not sure what practical application there is for it. It would be near impossible to train yourself to always keep that light on. You drive according to conditions, not the light.

Mileage wise it's hard to say just how well we did but we left with 3/4 of a tank and used only a quarter of it by the time we made Willits. Only $19 plus change, but hard to say how much had to do with lower gas prices vs. good mileage. Plus, we filled the tank, so put more gas in than we used. Still, a quarter tank to get to Willits was pretty nice. 

Coming back north, we refilled at Brown's in Willits. Forget how much gas we got as their stupid pump wouldn't print the receipt, but I figured we made it down on a quarter tank. We should make it back on a quarter, too. Nope. Actually a bit more than a quarter since the tank fills up beyond full on the gauge. 

I was surprised it went down as far as it did, but I realized something I never noticed before: from at least Piercy on northward, you seem to drive a lot more uphill. Anyone else ever notice that? First time I did. As it was I can't complain as we got home with about the same amount of gas in the tank, perhaps a hair more, than was in the tank when I picked it up. Pretty cool.

Overall, I was pretty happy with that car. Drove well. Cornered well and handled hills very well. I wouldn't mind having one, depending on the price. I'm guessing next time I rent a car from Enterprise I'll probably be wasting my time asking for that particular car again? I'll still ask.


At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. The rear view window shrinkage is offset by the back-up camera and blind spot detection (a logo lights up in the side mirror when there is a hidden car, and your dash will beep if you activate your turn signal). All of this is null if the rental company didn't pay for one or both of those features. In a few years, back-up cameras will be in all new cars by default (by legal mandate, like all good 'innovation' in the car industry).

2. If you have keyless entry, then the FOB (the thing that also had the trunk opening button) will open any door just by pulling the handle (because your FOB is detected near the door). If the rental company didn't pay for that feature, too bad.

With that upgrade, you can also lock doors by running your finger over a sensor on the door handle. You can also configure the car to lock the doors after X minutes when you've left the area (in case you forget to lock the doors). And you can configure all doors to unlock when the person with the FOB unlocks one door. Or, just press the FOB unlock button a couple times fast while you're walking toward the car.

Best of all, it's impossible to lock your keys in the car with keyless entry. The FOB will be detected inside the car, and the car will refuse to lock the door -- beeping at you about it.

3. The setting for the door locking when you start the car can be changed using the dash screen.

4. FWIW, Toyota has the easiest to use dashboard interface, both in the GUI design, and the screen material you're touching (which seems to be a thin flexible vinyl). Other car manufacturers use glass, which means you have to press hard on the screen to do things, and if the sun hits the dash wrong, you've got really bright light shining in your eyes. I have to drape a towel over the screen in a lot of cars. Dust also settles on the glass within a day of cleaning it, making the screen hard to see as the dust reflects light. I love the Toyota screens.

5. A practical application for the ECO mode display is one you've talked about in the past... coasting to save gas. When you coast, the ECO display will be spiked green all the way. And, it *is* impossible to keep the green light lit. Go uphill and you'll be seeing red.

At 7:02 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Thanx for the info and tips. I don't think they had that upgrade on this car. A number of times I'd go to open the door and it was locked. I kept the FOB with me pretty much all the time as I was afraid of losing it.

I kept telling myself to try opening and locking the doors using the FOB, but I was too paranoid. When I tried doing that with the last car, I came back and used the key to open the door and the car alarm went off. It went off after I put the key in the ignition.

I was still a bit nervous, though. On my truck, the car alarm will shut down the vehicle if you don't turn it off right. I certainly didn't want that to happen. Heck, I didn't know how it really worked, so just satisfied myself by using the key.


Post a Comment

<< Home