Getting a driver's license without insurance or car
November 26, 2011 7:37 PM   Subscribe

I have been driving for two years under permit. I took the written test. I just now have to pass the driving test. I am just as good as my friends who now have driver's license, except I didn't take the test. I am eighteen. Recently, my grandparents told me to get out of their lives, so I have no access to their car. But since I am in LA, it would be convenient if I can get a driver's license and rent a car. I can't drive unless I have a car. But then I can't get my driver's license without a car. I barely have money, so I am on a tight budget. I can't rent a car because I need a driver's license. I also need someone over 21 to watch over me when I drive, but there were no close adults in my life except my grandparents. How the hell do I go about this? Most of my friends don't have cars either, and the ones that do... I am not close enough to borrow their cars. I don't want to overwhelm them with my shitty family situation either. Only if I had a car. I am in Los Angeles.
posted by kopi to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Places that give driving lessons often give you access to their vehicle for the driving test, at least locally (in New York state). You just have to pay the amount that a lesson would cost. Not free but not too bad for a one -time charge.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:42 PM on November 26, 2011 [7 favorites]

Yeah thats how I got my license. Took a few classes and then took the test. They actually came to the school it self which saved on an extra visit to the DMV.
posted by Captain_Science at 7:46 PM on November 26, 2011

You get closer to your friends through situations like this. Ask one of them if you can borrow their car (and have them drive you) to a driving appointment. You don't have to get into all the nitty-gritty of your family situation, just explain that you suddenly found yourself in a tight space and would really appreciate the favor. Pay them back by making dinner, or cookies, or a sweet homemade card. Make sure they know there's no pressure, but I imagine some of them would be truly eager to assist if they knew your circumstances.
posted by lilac girl at 7:50 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Be aware that most large rental agencies in the US require you to be 25 to rent a car. You might be able to rent at a local rental agency.
posted by fshgrl at 7:50 PM on November 26, 2011 [5 favorites]

I would go with the driving lessons idea, since I don't think you can rent if you're under 21, period, pretty much. Under 25 is tough, but under 21 I don't think you'll be able to.
posted by Slinga at 7:56 PM on November 26, 2011

I've noticed storefronts that rent vehicles specifically for driver license tests are often conveniently located next to California DMV offices in many of the poorer towns in SoCal.
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:56 PM on November 26, 2011

Here's one from Fontana, CA. you can search your own area for something similar and/or less expensive.

If you reside in Fontana the rent a car is $75.00 without instruction of geting familiar with our school's vehicle. With instruction it will be $85.00

posted by buggzzee23 at 8:03 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing going through a driving school. I'm from CA and couldn't use my parents' car for the test (because of a cracked windshield!) and the driving school let me use one of their cars for free. It's worth calling around to see what you can work out.

FYI, I rented through Enterprise before I turned 25 and just had to pay an extra fee. I think it was $25 extra for a 2-day rental. I was over 21 though.
posted by apricot at 8:40 PM on November 26, 2011

Maybe an older person you know through church, school, job, etc. would take you? I know most of my bosses I've had would go above and beyond the call of duty like that if it could plausibly mean solving an issue with getting to/from work. And I had a serious, "hey I've got a problem I need your advice on" conversation, not expecting anything. I think most people who are kind of responsible for you in some sense, like a teacher or boss would do that if you haven't burned bridges by having a bad attitude with them.

Another possible obstacle to the overall plan, though: You probably also need a credit card to rent a car.

Not to mention that renting is not sustainable for long. I'm sure you've thought about that already but... if you're planning to buy a car anyway...

When I bought my first car, I didn't have a license either. I was 22 and had previously had one, but let it expire due to lack of interest in driving. I bought a used car, but from a dealership. You would. not. believe. what a car sales person who thinks there is only one obstacle to making a sale will do to make that obstacle go away. My salesman drove me to the DMV, let me use a car, AND got me a bunch of quotes for insurance.
posted by ctmf at 9:54 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

But since I am in LA, it would be convenient if I can get a driver's license and rent a car.... I barely have money, so I am on a tight budget.

If you barely have money then you can not rent a car. A car rental with a debit card, in Los Angeles, while you are under 25 will require that you have about $500 on a debit card (over the cost of the rental itself) for the deposit. For $500 you could get a beater car to get you around.

I do not think that you actually need a car. You need money. Use public transport . Get a job. When you have enough money then get a car.

Also - your post indicates that you are under 18 and are now possibly homeless (grandparents kicked you out - no adult in your life - need someone over 21 to drive with you). You need to stabilize your housing situation long before you think about getting a car. Hopefully some Mefites here can assist you with some L.A. social services for your situation.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 10:31 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, you can basically forget about renting a car if you are on a tight budget and under 25. They will screw you mercilessly. (The major rental companies, anyway. Maybe not some fly-by-nights, but I'm sure they just screw you in some other fashion.)

That said, I got my license via a car provided by the driving school I took lessons through, and I would look into that. Then at least you will have your license and can legally drive someone else's car, if they were to loan it to you, or you could save up and buy a clunker to call your own, if that's your desire.

Honestly I would probably put your money towards moving to someplace that has better public transportation, but if that's not an option buying some sort of cheap used car may be the best of a number of bad options.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:49 PM on November 26, 2011

Driving schools have packages you can buy, sometimes without the lessons and only a 30 min pre-test refresher. It was cheaper than I thought it would be.
posted by meepmeow at 11:49 PM on November 26, 2011

"But since I am in LA, it would be convenient if I can get a driver's license and rent a car.... I barely have money, so I am on a tight budget."

Oh what the hell. Did I write that? No, I meant I would SAVE UP for a car. I would never rent a car for that long. Holy shit. Sorry, birdbrain moment. :s

I am 18. I have my dormitory that is walking distance to my school. I afforded this place with some money in my savings account, but I might get kicked out for next semester as I cannot pay for the cost up front. I have until December 15 to leave my dorm as I cannot pay for it (unless I ask the school for loans or to use my grant to pay for it)
If I leave my dorm, I'll also have to have someone transport me to my new location (which is probably going to be driving distance from school). I have no one. I have only one friend in LA who can drive, but I don't trust her driving skills as she barely survives the roads when there is a friend around.

I am seeking new places to rent just in case I really do get kicked out for not paying my cost up frnt. Preferably a new place that is cheaper and near the bus systems (which I am also learning atm as I am new to LA).
posted by kopi at 1:14 AM on November 27, 2011

what area is your school in?
posted by hal_c_on at 6:13 AM on November 27, 2011

I took my driving test in a not-that-close friend's car. It felt really presumptuous but he helped me out anyway. I had never driven his car before the driving test and I left the parking brake on the whole time! Sorry, Rob! But I got my license, yay. So what I'm saying is, ask around; someone who you wouldn't expect to help you out may be willing to help you out after all.
posted by mskyle at 6:51 AM on November 27, 2011

My zip is 90045

You're right, mskyle. I should. I am nervous but I may have to. Ack.
posted by kopi at 10:04 AM on November 27, 2011

If you are just looking to rent a car once in order to use it for the driving test, don't do it. Ask a friend, even not a close friend. It could certainly feel awkward, but think of it this way: What is the worst, in terms of real, concrete consequences, that could happen?

Answer: They say no. (Plus, a little queasiness in your stomach from asking a favor of someone you don't know that well.)

That's it! That's all! If they say no, you can ask someone else. But I think you'll find that people are more likely to be helpful than you think.
posted by lewedswiver at 10:28 AM on November 27, 2011

Why exactly do you need a drivers license now? It sounds like you have plenty of other things to focus on first. Like place to live, work, friends. The license can and should come later. This is not a priority.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 10:49 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're right, lewedswiver. I think it is better to ask someone I know (or not know that well) than spend a fortune renting for a day.

I guess the driver's license is redundant if I don't even have a car to drive. I feel fucked. I'll keep tab on this page for future reference though. Thanks guys.
posted by kopi at 1:23 PM on November 27, 2011

A good friend of mine made it all the way through school in LA without having a driver's license. So many kids in college don't have cars at their disposal, regardless of where they live, and ESPECIALLY as freshman, that it wasn't that big of a deal. (It helped that I drove her everywhere.) If I were you, I'd focus on finding a way to stay in your dorm -- living in a walking-distance-to-campus dorm means you don't REALLY need a car, especially if you get an on-campus job, and generally a dorm-and-meal plan will be cheaper for you in the long run than getting an off-campus apartment (rent, plus moving costs, plus security deposit, plus utilities -- it's expensive). Go to financial aid and figure out your housing situation before you even worry about a car. Then, if you need to, get an on-campus job to save up some money. Colleges are set up so that students don't NEED a car -- it's just, as you said, convenient. Housing, on the other hand, is a must.

Sounds like you need some help with all this -- that's what your RA, advisor, and the financial aid counselors are for. I hate asking for help, so I am sympathetic, but colleges really are set up to help you, so see someone who can help you figure this out.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 1:31 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Owning a car is a huge money pit. Is Zip Car in your area? If so, I'm pretty sure you can join once you've held your driver's license for a year. Have you taken out Stafford Loans? Student loans are less than ideal, but if its the difference between not having housing and having housing, the student loan is the way to go.
posted by oceano at 3:29 PM on November 27, 2011

There are some car rental places that will rent you a car to take your driving test, as long as you purchase their insurance and get a letter from them saying that they are letting you take the car for your test. I looked into this once, and I think Budget was willing to do that.
posted by number9dream at 9:24 PM on November 27, 2011

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