DEAL­HUNTER

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY STYLE -

Ready to hit the open road but lack­ing ac­cess to a car? We com­pare six lead­ing rental com­pa­nies to fig­ure out how to get a bar­gain on four wheels when you want them.

So you’re do­ing your part for the en­vi­ron­ment by liv­ing a car­free life. And what a life it is! No idling in traf­fic, no end­less cir­cling for park­ing spot, no cring­ing as you fill up the tank. But what about those dayswhenyou re­ally need to hit the open road? Maybe it’s for that life-chang­ing sale at Ikea, maybe it’s to whisk your sweet­heart away for a cruise along Sky­line Drive— some­times you just need wheels. The key is to get a car­when you need it (and on­ly­whenyou need it) with­out spend­ing a for­tune.

We put six lead­ing com­pa­nies— Avis, Bud­get, Dol­lar, En­ter­prise, Hertz and Zip­car— to the test to find the best week­end deal.

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THE BOT­TOM LINE: Car rental com­pa­nies op­er­ate by sup­ply and de­mand. As the num­ber of cars avail­able de­creases, prices in­crease. So pick the com­pany with the most lo­ca­tions in your area. For the very best deal, head to Na­tional Air­port. It’s worth the cou­ple of bucks you’ll spend on Metro fare, con­sid­er­ing that the av­er­age price for a 24-hour week­end rental is about $19.50 when book­ing a week in ad­vance.

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