A few weeks ago I rented my Tesla Model 3 on Turo on a 1-Day rental. I’ll share exactly how it works, how much money I made, and why I’ll never do it again.
If you’ve never heard of it, Turo is like AirBnB but for your car, well I should say it’s probably more for your sexy car. No one is going on there to rent a (insert crap car of choice here).
Spoiler: My car is fine. This post is about being transparent about everything that goes into renting the car so you know all the time and costs associated.
I purchased a Tesla Model 3 in Dec 2018; at 31 it’s my first car and biggest personal purchase ever — I didn’t even have a driving license when I got it.
I had the car in my possession a month before I’d even gotten a driving license for the first time (that’s what happens when you live in New York, no driving required).
FAQ: Why did I buy before I even had my license?
I knew I was going to get one and I wanted that sweet $7,500 tax credit before it disappeared on Dec 31st, 2018. I was impatient for my license but the Austin DMV was booked out for 6 weeks on drive tests so I wasn’t able to get my license quickly enough.
I’m an entrepreneur and I like the idea of creating an asset out of liabilities so I wanted to experiment with the idea of renting the car out on Turo when I didn’t need it. Since I work from home and live pretty close to everything I could do fine without a car for a few days a month which would cover the car payment.
When I researched I saw that my Tesla Model 3 could pick up anywhere from $129 – $311 for a day. Pretty cool.
They seemed to have legit insurance so if anything happened they would cover it.
- Sign up for Turo (get $25 credit if you use this link)
- Create your car listing
- Select your insurance choice
- Set calendar availability & pricing (if you want to do custom)
Here’s my listing:
You’ll see I have 1 Five Star review for the grand whopping one time it’s been rented out.
I chose Turo Premium insurance as I wasn’t willing to take any chances for an extra 10%, which meant I collected 65% of the rental cost. Here’s what the insurance looks like:
My first booking
My first booking came in at 2 am and asked that the be car dropped off at 10 am that same day (8 hours later) about 20 min away. It was pretty darn inconvenient.
Due to it being too short notice for me, I had to cancel it. Usually, a cancellation costs you a $50 fee but due to it being my first time, I didn’t get charged.
Action: Updated my settings to require a 24-hour notice period for bookings and didn’t allow for instant bookings that required drop-off somewhere else.
When I got my next booking I had a few days' notice so that was do-able.
The Catmobile was going on her first big trip! How exciting it would be to start to pay her way in life…
To prep the car for the trip I had to charge to 200+ miles. I don’t have a charger at my apartment building so I either charge at a Tesla SuperCharger (and work from my car which I weirdly enjoy) or there’s a spot 2 min away I can charge for free and just leave the car there for a few hours.
Unfortunately, due to Austin being overtaken by SXSW that week my usual spot was closed off and the supercharger didn’t seem worth it as it’s 15 min away and I wanted to enjoy SXSW.
Time & Costs Associated with Rental
Charging — 30 mins
Between dropping the car off to charge and picking it up later it took around 30 mins and cost $8.30.
Car wash — 30 mins
I wanted the car looking pretty so I decided to get it washed for my booking. Due to the Tesla needing to be hand washed (the chemicals in the machines can damage the paint), I got a year membership for unlimited car washes at a local Austin spot. It can be expensive otherwise at around $45 per wash.
My membership is $450 a year, I average 2-3 washes per month = $18.75 per wash
Pick up & Tesla instruction — 40 mins
Unlike most regular cars, if you’ve never specifically driven a Tesla then you need a walkthrough on how to drive it. This makes it a higher-touch rental that most cars don’t require.
The guy who’d booked the car had never driven one before and wanted to test drive it before he purchased his own. This meant taking 40 mins to explain the car to him, self-driving features and how to charge, etc.
Pre-Trip Photos — 5 mins
Before pick-up, I needed to photograph the vehicle so there was a record of the car before them taking it for insurance purposes.
Post-Trip Photos & Drop off — 10 mins
At drop-off, I’m also required to take photos to document the condition of the car.
Here’s an overview of the trip:
Turo Fee’s & insurance: – $52.85
Expenses: – $27.05 (for car wash & charging)
Wow. All that for $71.10.
Unseen costs associated
Peace of mind
One thing I hadn’t considered before renting it out was how much mindshare it would take, just planning the car wash, charging and Tesla coaching took up valuable space in my brain and day — and the car hadn’t even been picked up yet!
Once it was picked up I would occasionally find myself checking the Tesla app to see where it was. The great thing about Tesla is you can see everything that’s going on with the car within their app, from where it’s parked to if it’s driving and how fast, etc.
Side note: What’s the helicopter parent equivalent for your relationship with your car?
Wear & Tear
Wear and tear is damage that naturally occurs with regular use and is a form of depreciation. While the car came back in relatively the same condition that it left in, with 81 miles more on the odometer there is an unseen cost associated with allowing your vehicle to be rented out.
The standard setting on Turo is 200 miles per day included, while you can change it they don’t recommend it. According to AAA an electric car depreciates 3.68 cents per mile, so at the daily rate that’s $7.36 of depreciation per day.
My first Turo booking couldn’t have gone better as far as what the platform is supposed to be used for. The guy was super friendly and brought the car back pristine and with the same amount of charge he left with.
That should be great, right?
Once I did an audit of the resources that went into the booking I realized I had actually lost money.
Earning $71.10 for two hours of my time is $35.50 per hour.
Not to mention all the unseen costs associated with what I mentioned above. I can 100% guarantee a significantly higher ROI if I take that time and put it into my work and business.
Renting my car on Turo is not going to move the needle in my life, and in fact is a net negative on my time.
There is an opportunity cost to everything we do. If you go to see a movie, that’s 2 hours you’re choosing to spend on something rather than something else.
Some costs are worth it for the payoff, some are not and this varies from one person to the next. The important thing is to understand what we’re willing to put up with.
This is why it’s likely the first and last time I’ll be renting my Tesla on Turo.
(I also realized I don’t want strangers driving my car.)
Opportunity for other Tesla owners or buyers
Tesla has recently changed their business model and decided to close down their dealerships, making it more difficult to test drive a Tesla before buying.
You have 7 days to return a Tesla if you have never test driven it before so Turo is going to be a great place to go test one out while still being able to return the car. Whether you’re looking to rent or host, it’s a good place to try.