A Rental Car Puzzle

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall via Compfight cc

Have you ever noticed that whenever you rent a car, when they give you the keys to the vehicle, there are always two sets of keys?  But the two sets of keys are attached to the same key chain, and no matter how hard I’ve tried, I have never figured out a way to detach one set of keys from the other.

What could possibly be the point of giving customers two sets of keys that can’t be separated?  The downside is that if the keys get lost, two sets of keys are gone.  Also, the keys are much bulkier in my pocket than otherwise would be the case.

The only possible explanation I can see is that since no one carries around two attached sets of keys to the vehicle they own, people are less likely to confuse their own car keys with those of the rental vehicle.  It just doesn’t seem like that could be the logic, however.

So can anyone explain to me the real reason rental car companies do this?

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  1. Jeff says:

    Two random, under-developed thoughts…
    1) If bulky keys are harder to lose, maybe they should attach the keys to a big stick like they do for the gas station bathroom keys.
    2) Lost keys are very expensive to replace… maybe they are doubling down on the replacement fee!

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  2. Eliseo says:

    Another reason can be that eventually one set of keys might fail or got broken in a distant place. So you could avoid a big problem using the spare keys, without losing them.

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  3. Michael Larsen says:

    When you take delivery of a new vehicle it comes with two sets of keys. When the rental companies remarket the cars its done (generally) close to its last drop location as is economically possible (auctions bearing significantly better results are sought out and if transporting the vehicles to said auction will bear a better price they will do so).

    When wholesalers purchase there is a deduction for missing equipment (spare tires etc…) so the rental companies affix both keys to a braided cable that’s nearly impossible to break. The rental companies remarket hundreds of thousands of vehicles a year so even a marginal deduction from the price would result in a very measurable loss.

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  4. Michael Larsen says:

    When you take delivery of a new vehicle it comes with two sets of keys. When the rental companies remarket the cars its done (generally) close to its last drop location as is economically possible (auctions bearing significantly better results are sought out and if transporting the vehicles to said auction will bear a better price they will do so).

    When wholesalers purchase there is a deduction for missing equipment (spare tires etc…) so the rental companies affix both keys to a braided cable that’s nearly impossible to break. The rental companies remarket hundreds of thousands of vehicles a year so even a marginal deduction from the price would result in a very measurable loss.

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  5. Eric P says:

    I think the answer is two fold, most new cards have laser cut keys which make it very expensive to replace and also the logistics of getting the keys replaced is a pain to the rental car companies. Also, most rental car companies today have a segment of their business that sells the rental cars to customers after a few years. Knowing that customers have the ability to rent a car in one location and return it to another you would never be able to keep both sets of keys together so the solution was to always keep the two sets attached.

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  6. Shehzad H says:

    Average key replacement is $200. If you lose two keys, you owe the rental companies $400 as opposed to $200.

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  7. Michael Larsen says:

    When you take delivery of a new vehicle it comes with two sets of keys. When the rental companies remarket the cars its done (generally) close to its last drop location as is economically possible (auctions bearing significantly better results are sought out and if transporting the vehicles to said auction will bear a better price they will do so).

    When wholesalers purchase there is a deduction for missing equipment (spare tires etc…) so the rental companies affix both keys to a braided cable that’s nearly impossible to break. The rental companies remarket hundreds of thousands of vehicles a year so even a marginal deduction from the price would result in a very measurable loss.

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    • josh says:

      And then they buy 400 dollars worth of keys and the car sits making no revenue while we wait for new keys… Wear a scam how dare them expect you to return the keys!

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