All you need to know about car rentals in San Diego – How to rent a car in San Diego

Did you know that 1.1 million airport rental car transactions occur each year at San Diego International Airport (SAN)? In fact, 14 percent of all arriving passengers into SAN rent a vehicle for an average length of is 4.6 days.

To accommodate this demand, San Diego’s Airport Authority has constructed a 1,400 feet long Rental Car Center that will accommodate 5,400 rental cars. The $316 million project, set to open in mid-January 2016. will house many of the rental car companies currently serving San Diego International Airport in one building.

When visiting San Diego, we recommend renting a car in order to fully appreciate all that San Diego has to offer. Now, renting a car will be easier, faster, and less confusing. Gone are the days of waiting for each rental car companies shuttles to arrive at the terminal – now, one consolidated shuttle bus will transport rental car customers directly to the Rental Car Center.

Rental Car Center Shuttles in SAN

New SAN Rental Car Center Shuttles

Best of all, the 16 25-passenger shuttle buses use a dedicated bus line within the airport campus, bypassing North Harbor Drive. We timed the route on our media tour of the new facility. It takes about 8 minutes between the Rental Car Center and Terminal 1 and about 10 minutes between the Rental Car Center and Terminal 2.

Returning a rental car will also be easier for customers because the consolidated center takes the guess work out of which rental car company driveway to turn into. Plus, all the GPS-equipped cars will have routes enabled to get you back to the new Rental Car Center. The new entrance for returning car is off of Sassafras Street.


Directional Signs at SAN Rental Car Center

Directional Signs at SAN Rental Car Center

Plenty of signage will ensure that you’re going to the right place and in the right direction. The Rental Car Center also includes Arrival and Departure viewing screens so you can check on the status of your flight as soon as you return your rental car.

The actually address of the new Rental Car Center is 3355 Admiral Boland Way. This 1.8-mile stretch of road hugs the airfield and was named after former San Diego Navy Mayor, Bruce Boland. Admiral Boland served on the Capital Campaign for the many improvements made to SAN that we now see today. Sadly, he passed away in 2015.

Another memorial resides within the Rental Car Center itself in the form of a living wall dedicated to a construction worker, Eduardo “Eddie” Lopez, who died during the construction of the project.

Those who have noticed the public art at San Diego’s International Airport and at other airports will be happy to see various public art installations at the new Rental Car Center including Amy Landsberg’s creative use of side view mirrors from Ford F-150 trucks and tail lights from Hyundai Elantra cars as well as 2, 54 feet tall MetroGnomes by Los Angeles-based artist, Christian Moeller.

The Rental Car Center also includes an outdoor Pet Relief area, recycled water car washes, oil change/tire pressure bays and 72 gas pump filling stations, so 72 cars can be refueled at one time. Speaking of refueling, if you’re hungry, thirsty or need a quick pick-me-up, Hillcrest’s Big City Bagels will be operating a kiosk in front of the rental car ‘terminal.’ Future plans for full-service dining with a view and valet parking are forthcoming. Stay tuned!

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