Rental car models - the meaning of "or similar" in car hire

In car hire industry a regular replacement of vehicles in rental car fleet is common.

Very rarely a standard passenger car is used for more than 3 years by a car hire company; in some countries rent-a-car companies will dispose of rental vehicles before they are one year old or have reached the maximum mileage of 40.000, 50.000 or 60.000 km.

When renting a car in a European country or in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand you are very likely to be handled at the counter of a car hire company a key to a new, or nearly new car.

Selecting make and model of a rental car - what does "or similar" mean in a car hire offer?
However, in most of the large car hire providers, such as Avis, Sixt, Europcar, Alamo, Enterprise, etc. it is rather difficult to guarantee rental of a particular make and model.

The offers of hire cars available online always refer to a category, or rental class defined by general characteristics of the vehicles, amongst them type, dimensions, equipment and the price range.

This is due to the logistic reasons: with so many different makes and models in the car rental fleet it is a major challenge for a car hire company to comply 100% with the customer desire to book a particular car, especially if the desired vehicle, for example the most sought after VW Golf, happens to be currently elsewhere in the country.

VW Golf VII 2013 model © Photo:

Additionally, car hire companies are unable to control or foresee late return of the vehicles from customers or the occurrence of damages and time needed for fixing them, resulting in a temporary unavailability of the car.

For the above reasons, in the majority of car hire offers, the expression ‘or similar’ is always used next to the make and model chosen to represent a particular rental group/category. In other words, a VW Golf of your online booking can materialize in the form of an Opel Astra, Ford Focus, Renault Megane, Peugeot 308, Hyundai i30, Citroen C4… ‘or similar’ at the counter of the car rental station.

Car rental model guarantee
It is not, however, impossible to book the exact make and model of a hire car online.

Since the summer of 2013, the search and booking system available on introduced a new, interesting feature, the car model guarantee.

With offers marked as ‘Guaranteed car model’ (this information appears next to the image of a car displayed),  you can be sure that the car you book is the exact model of a car you will be handed by the car hire agent.

When no car model guarantee is mentioned, you will see the standard ‘or similar’ clause on the offer displayed.

Car model guarantee is still a novelty in car hire business and available only in some destinations and within certain classes of hire vehicles. Given the positive response from the customers, it is expected that the concept will spread to more car hire locations and to different rental classes.

Rent a sports car - guaranteed car make and model
Car model guarantee is available mostly for special, non-standard cars, although not unseen in case of popular models. In quite a few Spanish holiday destinations, for example, offers of a VW Golf with car model guarantee were available for online booking on

Please note that the offers available online change constantly and it may sometimes require several searches to find an ideal hire car and, preferably with the car model guarantee. On the plus side, the guarantee does not necessarily imply higher costs of the rental.

A good example of a type of hire cars most likely offering a car model guarantee are the most expensive sports vehicles (usually Ferrari, Aston Martin, etc.) to rent at London-Heathrow Airport. When hiring one of those ‘exotic’ cars you will often have a chance to book a particular model, for instance a Ferrari California Spider.

Ferrari California Sixt Cartrawler

Rental of Ferrari California through Cartrawler in Heathrow Aiport with guaranteed car model.

Related page: Hire a Convertible - Rent an open sports Coupé

Rental car models - the meaning of "or similar" in car hire
Article: Rental car models - the meaning of "or similar" in car hire
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