I was in Bengaluru with my partner for a corporate meeting. It was our first visit and we don’t want to miss this chance to drive by the neighboring cities like Mysuru and Ooty. So, we decided to stay in Bangalore for 4 more days after the meeting and before coming back to Home. However, we have not planned or booked any tickets in advance as we knew Diextr has covered all these places in the blog. Well, the only Question remain was how to visit these places without any hassle on an average budget with complete independence.
Self Drive Car
So, the first thing that came to our mind is to book the self-drive car and whenever we say Self-drive car in India, the foremost brand option is Zoom-Car, but wait we are in Silicon Valley which is famous for solving all day to day life problems through technology and there is not only one player to solve the problems but there are multiple players. In so time, we found brands like DriveEzy and few others. We compared prices and pick up locations and found that Zoom-Car was offering a good deal with a further 20% discount on a particular Card payment(By luck we hold that card).
Zoom Car it is!!
After comparing lot of factors like price, power, pick up, durability, we booked the Ford Figo Diesel 1300cc version. We Booked our car on Tuesday from Wednesday morning to Friday Night and It cost us ₹ 5300 inclusive of fuel and other weekend charges. It was my first time so I have to upload the license and one Government ID proof to get approval, and it took less than 1 hour after I uploaded my licenses and ID proof to get account approval. Note if there is more than one person who is going to drive the car along with you then do add that person in the Zoom Car account email id(if it is not registered then he/she will get the email to register on that email id) as co-driver, Zoom Car booking comes with a comprehensive insurance which limits our liability. they take a small, fully refundable security deposit of Rs. 10,000 for every booking. In the rare case of damage to the vehicle, they deduct the cost of it from the above-mentioned deposit. In case of higher damage, our maximum liability is limited to Rs 10,000. I would advise to confirm these figures from zoom car website based on car and city.. This comprehensive insurance will not be liable if any other person is driving your car at the time of damage and you forgot to mention that person as your co-driver.
Benefits of Digitization
We were all set for our Journey and just have to pick our car from the pick-up point provided at the time of booking. We saw our car was standing at the first spot in the first row 🙂 There started the most awesome experience with Zoom-car, we don’t need to contact any person everything is going to happen through your mobile app (although persons were there for any help). Open your app, it will navigate to your booked car, the app will ask you to verify the different parts of a car and you have to answer whether it is damaged, heavily damaged, or scratched. Along with your answers, you can upload the images of all these parts. I understand this is time-consuming but equally important to avoid any extra charges or hassles when you will end your journey. Once you are done, there come magical options ‘unlock your car’, just click on this option in-app. Voila!! you can now enter in your car, you will find the key in the glove box or near the gearbox or dashboard. It is time to start your car and upload/enter the odometer reading in an app, enter the fuel gauge reading (don’t worry app will ask for reading based on the car you are riding. Check the music system, verify headlights and all other basic features. Well, you are all set to start your journey in your own car now.
Zoom car offers two options to ride the car with fuel and without fuel, we choose with fuel but there is a very rare chance you will get enough fuel in the car for your complete Journey, so you have to fill the fuel in the car. Zoom car app will also help you to navigate to nearby Petrol pumps where you can fill the fuel, don’t forget fuel bill from petrol pump because you have to upload the bills on the app to claim your fuel cost in ‘with fuel’ options. Here is something I want to share, petrol pump guys will identify the self-drive car based on your number plate and may play some dirty trick to earn from Company/Zoom car pocket. In our case, we asked him to fill the tank, after filling the tank he said he will provide us the bill of a higher amount than actual and asked for his share. I said no straight forward as I was aware that I had entered the fuel gauge reading before starting my journey and Zoom car can easily calculate the amount of fuel required to be filled. So, a word of prudence here, avoid such things or ask a petrol pump guy it is a without fuel car and never ask to fill the full tank.
The fuel tank is full, Excitement is full and we were set to zooom, we drove the car on Banglore-Mysore highway without any problem. You have to pay the Toll tax, state tax from your own pocket. We have reached our first destination without any major issues except some music system add-ons like Aux Cable and USB device not being available in the car. Yes, FM was there but we are from North India and can’t understand Kannada and another south Indian language. So, we bought our own AUX cable but unfortunately, the aux input point was not working properly in music system of our car, Moreover, there was not any car charger though car charger point was there so don’t forgot to bring Three things before starting your journey
1. Aux Cable
2. Car charger
3. USB device with lots of songs
On the next day, we started our day from Mysuru to Ooty. This highway goes through Bandipur National Park and Mudumalai National park. Hence, you can spot many wild animals while driving and the drive limit is 25 Km/Hr . This feels like you are having jungle Safari free of cost.
On the way to Ooty
On the way to Ooty, our car tire got punctured, thanks to coconut vendor who spotted the less air while we were sipping coconut water. Thankfully all four tires were Tubeless, so you can ride to the nearest repair shop before it gets completely de-inflated. Fortunately, we found the repair shop within 2 km, he repaired it within minutes and verified the tire pressure in all four tires, but again, that we were driving the self-driving car, so he charged little more than market rate considering company will going to pay for this repair. Soon after, he provided us the bill of repair and I uploaded the bill but unfortunately, zoom-car did not consider it. I did not go in any discussion with zoom-car CC over this but don’t know the exact reason why they did not consider the repair bill, here are the tips to avoid any major hassles while driving:
1. Keep on checking tire pressure whenever you stop in the journey
2. Do check everything before starting your journey
3. Also, keep your ears open for any un-friendly sound from a car or engine.
36 hair Pin way
We drove through the short cut, the 36 hair Pin Hilly way from Bandipur National park to Ooty, see below image to have better idea of different route from Bandipur to Ooty, we did not face any major issue while driving the Zoom-car on this route, we drove in 2nd gear max but everything was fine from pick up to car handling.
While returning If you are not a local guy or taxi driver from Tamil Nadu, you will not be allowed to drive on this route. You have to take the long route but that route is one of the best scenic routes I have traveled in India. On this route, there are two shooting points, one with a lake view surrounded by pine forest and the other one is a green meadow view. These places are worth exploring if you are not running late, and do keep in mind that road through Bandipur National park gets closed at 9 PM for 4 wheeler and 6 PM for two-wheeler and remains closed till 6 AM.
As soon as we entered into the Tamil Nadu region from Karnataka we got a message from Zoom-car, don’t forgot to pay the single entry state permit to Tamil Nadu at RTO post, we thought someone will stop us and will charge for state permit, but it is our responsibility to spot and pay the tax at RTO check post else while returning cops can fine you for not carrying permit because Zoom car is going to reimburse this so don’t forget this at any cost if you are entering into different states while riding Self-drive car.
We forgot to pay for the permit so we faced some issue with Tamil Nadu cops while returning but we request them to sort out and they listened to us and did not harass us but the tip here is
Never forgot to pay state tax if you are entering into a different state
My first Self-drive/Zoom car experience was really good, I have thought of hiring it many times before in Chandigarh & Delhi but dropped it after listening to bad experiences from different people but this time we did not have much choice, but at the end, we experienced lots of good things from digital magic to national parks drive and made lots of personal memory along with Zoom-Car
In the end, I have some tips for Self-drive cars
- Always carry your Driving license while driving
- Register co-driver if someone will going to drive along with you
- Never ask for Tank full at petrol pumps and if they ask do mention it is without fuel car
- Keep on checking the tire pressure on every stop
- Always pay for state permit if you are driving through multiple states
Do you have questions or do you want to share your travel stories? Leave a comment below.
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