How To Use A SunPass While Hiring A Rental Car In Florida

Florida has over 700 miles of toll roads, bridges and causeways, the most of any US State. These can all be easily navigated by use of the state’s SunPass e-tolling system.  All of the rental car companies have signed up to use the e-tolling system in one form or another, to make it easy for their customers to whizz through the toll roads without having to pull off all the time to pay cash. Our separate post discusses which methods are used and how much is charged by the rental car companies for the privilege of using their system. In this post we will look specifically at the physical transponder favoured by Budget in Florida.

Budget Rent A Car has chosen to equip most (if not all) of its Florida fleet with a physical SunPass transponder. The transponder communicates directly with the overhead gantries on toll roads and because the pass is linked to a specific car, the toll is billed directly to you, the customer, along with the facility charge from Budget which is currently $16.95 per rental month.

Some clients are happy to use the SunPass system, others have their own portable SunPass to use, and other clients have no wish to use the SunPass system, preferring to pay cash as necessary. In the past, this has proved a little problematic as not all SunPasses had an on/off switch.  But a new system has been developed which makes it really easy.

The transponder is positioned behind the rear view mirror on the windscreen so that it does not impact forward vision.  It is so well hidden in fact, that it is easy for the driver to miss its presence, despite its size. The first thing to do in your rental car, before leaving the airport or where-ever you have collected your car from, is to look behind the rear view mirror and check the status of the SunPass.

SunPass Turned Off

This SunPass is Turned Off

In this position with the red tab showing, the transponder is switched off. If you can see a green tab showing as below, then the transponder is switched on.

SunPass Turned On

This Green Tab Shows the SunPass is Switched On

The way that this transponder frame works is a joy of simplicity itself.  To be effective and communicate with the overhead gantries correctly, the transponder needs to be in touch with the glass of the windscreen.  If you look at the photo below you can see that when the tab is moved into the on position this forces the transponder into contact with the glass. You can also see the strips of hook and loop at the sides which are used to attach the transponder to the windscreen.

SunPass Switched On

SunPass Device in On Position

In the photo below, you can see that moving the tab to the off position retracts the transponder from the windscreen, breaking the contact with the glass and therefore the communication with the sensors in the overhead toll gantries.

SunPass Turned Off

SunPass in the Off Position

The photo below shows a front-on view of the transponder as it would be pushed up against the windscreen.

SunPass turned on from the reverse

Reverse View of the SunPass in the Engaged Position

If you make the decision not to use the SunPass facility as provided by Budget, whether you intend to use your own portable one, or pay cash as you go (this is still perfectly possible in the Central Florida region) I would advise removing the transponder via the hook and loop and stowing it in the glove compartment.  This is a ‘belt and braces’ approach, and should ensure no nasty surprise bills on your return home, and also has the benefit of freeing up the space behind the windscreen for your own transponder if you are using one.

I hope this article demonstrates how easy it is to use – or not use – the SunPass, and puts you in control of your car hire.