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User Content => Road Trips => Topic started by: hbelkins on July 24, 2013, 01:50:09 PM

Title: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: hbelkins on July 24, 2013, 01:50:09 PM
For the first time, I rented a car on my trip to Kansas, but that was only out of necessity because my vehicle broke down.

I know a number of others here have rented cars for long trips (Doug K. when he came to the Richmond, Va. meet; Steve A. when he came to the Ashland, Ky. meet; and a couple of others who drove rentals to the Wichita meet, among others).

Do you prefer to drive your own or rent a car? What do you feel are the pros and cons of each approach?

To me, the cost of the rental, getting used to an unfamiliar vehicle (controls, vehicle width/heigh, handling/performance, etc.) and not being able to set up to run all electronics are huge negatives to renting a vehicle and are the reasons why I prefer driving my own to meets and on trips.

Interested to see others' opinions on this.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Brandon on July 24, 2013, 01:52:09 PM
I'd strongly prefer to drive my own.  I know the maintenance history, I know that everything works properly, and it's a hell of a lot cleaner than any rental I've ever driven.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: texaskdog on July 24, 2013, 01:53:51 PM
Generally for us we rent for long trips because our cars are not in good shape and we don't like to beat on them for long trips.  We have to drive to Kansas (from Texas) next weekend, 1000 miles so we'll probably rent.  That and the fact hers gets 16 MPG and mine has no AC.  If we stay in Texas usually we drive our own. 

Watch out for junk fees (Alamo is the worst) and the unnecessary insurance.  I didn't take the insurance and had to replace the windshield due to a crack.  Cost me $184.  If I took the insurance it would have been $27/day for 17 days, you do the math :)
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: corco on July 24, 2013, 02:16:01 PM
There's a certain cost threshold that it makes sense- typically if I'm going to be driving more than 700 miles a day for more than 3 days, I figure the car pays for itself in depreciation/gas mileage differences. So when I went and met Alps in North Dakota on an overnight trip a couple months ago, I drove my own car. For Wichita, I rented.

I enjoy driving different cars, so that's a nice thing, and I travel light, so I don't have to do much to adjust. Also since it's not my car I'm more willing to take it up to redline to pass and things like that.

If you book with a credit card your card has CDW coverage (Visa has the best) so there's no real reason to pay for the extra insurance, making it pretty cheap. I only have liability on my own car due to the age, but collision on a rental car, so that's a bit of peace of mind.

As for maintenance, if there are any maintenance issues (that are their fault/based on normal wear and tear) that's on the rental car company and they just give you a new car from whatever location is nearby, so that makes life easy- there isn't that risk of being stuck in a repair shop for too long.

For me it's always been a no-brainer though because of gas mileage- my Liberty gets 18 MPG and they Corolla I rented to Wichita got 37, so the gas difference more than pays for itself. I'm inheriting a 2001 Honda Accord with 40K miles on it here in a few weeks that I'll probably use as my roadtrip car, and that gets 27-28, so I'll have to determine what threshold it makes sense to rent when I'm driving it. I basically use the IRS cost to determine what it takes to drive the Liberty since it gets bad gas mileage and is getting older so maintenance costs are up ($.565/mile)- so for Wichita, which ended up being 4200 miles it came out like this:

Liberty - $2373
Rental Corolla - $297 for rental + ~ $400 for gas + $25 to park the Liberty at the Butte Airport + $5 in sunk liability insurance cost for a week on a sitting Liberty + $.53 in sunk registration cost for a week on a sitting Liberty = $727.53

So that's way ahead. The operating cost for the Corolla ended up being $.173/mile, which is awesome, and I can't envision a scenario where it would be cheaper to drive one's own car. In a car with better gas mileage, the IRS rate is way too high but I still think even if I had a car with equivelant gas mileage I came out ahead on depreciation/maintenance.

But yeah, for me it's purely an economic decision with no consideration for convenience. If I can make it cheaper to drive my own car, I do that. If it's not, I rent.

Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: 1995hoo on July 24, 2013, 02:16:13 PM
I prefer to drive my own when practical. If we were to go back to Alaska, for example, driving all the way simply wouldn't be a reasonable option even though I'd like to do it, and of course for overseas trips there's no question. We typically go to Florida once or twice a year, usually for two weeks in summer (though we're not going this year) and for a week at either Thanksgiving or Christmas. We drive one way and take the Auto Train the other. Couple of reasons, not necessarily an exhaustive list:

(a) Driving our own car is cheaper than flying and renting, even if we take the Auto Train home (plus we redeem American Express points for a discount on the train).

(b) More comfortable in our own car and we like our built-in sat-nav. Ms1995hoo has a portable Garmin I gave her some years back, and we have navigation apps on our iPhones and my iPad, but we both find my Acura's in-dash unit to be far easier to operate and easier to navigate by than the other devices. I find the maps on the Garmin and on most of the apps to be somewhat cartoonish, for lack of a better word, whereas the Acura system's maps are plain and straightforward and more like a regular old paper road map.

(c) All three of our cars are manual shift, yet almost all rental cars in the USA are automatic. I'm very uncomfortable driving an automatic.

(d) My Acura has a really powerful air conditioner. I've never had a rental car that came close. For ski trips the seat heaters are nice too.

(e) No TSA issues. This is one reason why we drive at Christmas even if it's only for a week. My wife tends to go a little overboard on the Christmas shopping for our nieces and nephews and if we take our own car, we can take whatever we want in terms of luggage and the like. (This applies on the Auto Train as well because I lock out the remote trunk release, lock the glove compartment, and give the Amtrak employee the "valet key.") The same applies to ski trips: If we go to Mont-Tremblant for a week, it's only about 700 miles if we go via the Montreal route and it's a lot easier to take all our own ski equipment in our own car than it is by plane. This is all the more true nowadays with the airlines' checked-bag fees. 700 miles is one day's drive, and I'll happily invest a day's drive at either end of a week-long trip for the convenience of not dealing with the TSA and the airline luggage handlers.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: kphoger on July 24, 2013, 05:20:20 PM
We never rent.  The only times I've rented a vehicle were (a) when I needed a moving truck, (b) when I didn't own a car of my own, and (c) in a foreign country, having flown in.

we don't like to beat on them for long trips

I've always figured that long-distance highway driving is easier on a car than local stop-and-go driving.  Driving to México and back, for example, our car does less shifting, braking, turning, starting and stopping, etc. than many people's cars do in a typical week of driving around their own city.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: roadman on July 24, 2013, 05:36:23 PM
I have always driven my own car on vacation trips.  Apart from the advantage of familiarity, knowing the car is well maintained, etc., there's another key reason.  As a ham radio operator/radio hobbyist, my cars, including "Sarah" (my current 2009 Contour), have always been fully equipped with a VHF/UHF transceiver, scanner, and CB radio.

It's not practical to bracket mount radios in, or install antennas (other than mag-mounts, which I've never had luck with) on, a rental car.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: hbelkins on July 24, 2013, 06:18:45 PM
I know that everything works properly

Well, I thought the same thing too last week.  :ded:
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: oscar on July 24, 2013, 06:20:24 PM
I rarely drive rentals, for reasons explained above, plus my fondness for bad roads (rental-car-unfriendly, requiring high clearance, snow chains and/or 4x4).  The exceptions have been trips to Hawaii, England (once) and other island places, often for trips to Alaska (but the first and last of my five trips there were in my own vehicle), and sometimes for cross-country trips (especially the shorter ones).  Also, on business trips before I retired, I usually didn't have the time to drive to and from my destination, so a rental was a necessity.

My preference for driving my own vehicle is strong enough that I'm toying with the idea of a one-way trip out West in my pickup truck, and flying one-way back home, leaving the truck behind more or less permanently.  That's what was done by the rest of the East Coast contingent at this year's Presidents' Day hot springer gathering in one of the most remote parts of Death Valley National Park.   
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: agentsteel53 on July 24, 2013, 06:34:52 PM
I own right now, because it is cheaper, given the amount of miles I can write off at 55.5c/mile, as opposed to actual costs.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Alps on July 24, 2013, 06:34:55 PM
I use a rule of thumb of 20 cents per mile difference (taking out gas and potential flat tires/hazards), which covers maintenance, wear/tear, and depreciation. I tried to be conservative in that number, but I've seen estimates as low as 12-15 cents per mile. Anyway, if my rental will cost me $50, I had better be going at least 250 miles in order to make it worthwhile to rent. A 3-day rental may cost in the range of $120-$150, and I'm likely going over 1,000 miles in that time, so it clearly works out.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Brandon on July 24, 2013, 06:58:45 PM
I never include depreciation.  I figure that the miles are fine for the car, and I'm going to keep it for 9-12 years or more, so the amount I'll get back when I trade it in is minimal anyway.  Plus, each year I keep it and do not have a car payment is where the car is making money for me.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: formulanone on July 24, 2013, 07:11:51 PM
I almost always prefer to drive my car: I know its operational limits, it's usually more fun to drive, and it has a manual transmission. :) For work, I make some decent "bonus" money on the mileage reimbursement, since my car's new enough to have no problems, wear-and-tear is rather minimal, and fuel economy is good enough to more than cover gas expenses.

That said, my job means driving rentals a lot, so it's a necessary evil for going places too impractical to drive towards for work. They pay for the rental in its entirety, and any gas required. It also means I get to sample other vehicles, which is nice when you're talking shop with other people in the car industry. But it gets a little repetitive in selection after a while, half the cars I get smell funny, or they aren't very clean...I try to ask for whatever is the newest car on the lot which is in my price category. (If I really don't like the car; well, I try to remind myself that there's no "frequent driving mileage" club, so the airline mileage is my return on investment.)

My least favorite scenario is renting a car to drive towards somewhere I could drive my own car, but only if don't have time to scrape and fastidiously clean love bugs off my car (the entire month of May). Grin and bear it, as it's only happened once.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: hbelkins on July 24, 2013, 09:43:17 PM
My preference for driving my own vehicle is strong enough that I'm toying with the idea of a one-way trip out West in my pickup truck, and flying one-way back home, leaving the truck behind more or less permanently.

I remember you mentioning this at least once before. Where would you park or store your truck?
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: texaskdog on July 25, 2013, 02:26:35 PM
I like how people on both sides make good points!
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: AsphaltPlanet on July 25, 2013, 02:54:24 PM
I have taken to driving rental cars more frequently as my own car ages.  I like how worry free driving a rental is compared with driving my own car.  My car has never given me problems, but I like racking up miles on someone else's wheels more than my own.

Plus, I like driving different cars.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: 6a on July 26, 2013, 11:14:27 PM
You know, I've honestly never thought about renting a car to go on a trip.  Looking at it now though, I don't think I would.  Not only do I enjoy driving my car, and know its quirks, I don't think I would save any money renting.  Plus, when I had my wreck in February, I gave back one rental because it smelled like a wet cigarette.  The replacement stunk too, but at that point I just didn't give a shit. 
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Duke87 on July 26, 2013, 11:27:20 PM
I could totally see myself flying somewhere and then renting to drive around a bunch out there rather than driving my own car all the way out there from home - I've sort of already done this with my trip to Arizona and San Diego earlier this year. But that would be primarily to save time, not to save wear and tear on my car. Meanwhile, renting a car locally and driving it somewhere from here just doesn't make sense to me, especially when you consider that rentals in New York City are (like everything else in New York City) not cheap. Besides, it's extra time and extra bother to get to the rental place, do the paperwork, get used to the fact that you're driving a car other than the one you're used to, etc.

Ultimately I figure that if I have to replace my car sooner on account of putting too many miles on it too fast, then *shrug* that's just part of the cost of the hobby.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: allniter89 on July 27, 2013, 12:55:56 AM
I prefer rentals for trips over 300 miles one way. My car is somewhat of a high mileage beater, 1988 Toyota Corilla with nearly million miles (987k) so I'd rather not drive it above 70mph. In a rental I hammer down and I enjoy driving a newer car. I've havent had a problem with a dirty car (inside). I did have a problem with a car in the Great Smokey Mtn NP, NC and the rental company brought the car to me and the driver even helped transfer our luggage etc to the new car. And I got an upgrade for the original rate for my "trouble". :clap:
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: vdeane on July 27, 2013, 01:02:17 PM
I can see the speed limiting.  After the 4th of July, I decided that my car is never going faster than 65 ever again, for the following factors:
1. My tires are on the edge of needing to be replaced
2. Given the current condition of the car, it's not worth it to replace the summer tires (I'm getting a new car next year if I can at all afford it; even if the rest of the car holds out, I have major rust issues)
3. I had a flat on July 4, and the only cause I can see is a combination of old tires and heat (especially after I gave them quite a beating going 75-80 all the way in NJ)

I may relax this rule in winter.  My snow tires aren't nearly so worn out.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: J N Winkler on July 27, 2013, 01:51:07 PM
I don't really have anything to add to the economic analysis presented upthread, which I think is generally sound.

I have no enthusiasm for renting because part of the fun for me is getting there and back in my own car.  However, I will rent whenever the logistical advantages are compelling.  In Alaska in 2004, my friends and I flew in and rented because the alternative was to spend a minimum of one week getting to Alaska from the lower 48 in one of our vehicles.  (I would gladly have done this, but my friends were on a tighter schedule and that was not an option for them.)  To save time, I once flew in to Tucson and used a car borrowed from a relative for local travel.  Last Labor Day I left from home in a borrowed car for a 2000-mile road trip because my car was then in the shop and the car I drove got about double the gas mileage.

I don't see any sense in driving a rental just to keep mileage off an owned car, as opposed to one that is leased.  Most of the added mileage road enthusiasts rack up as a direct result of the hobby is on the highway; highway miles are easy miles and in fact offset some of the negative impacts of city miles.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: allniter89 on July 27, 2013, 05:19:43 PM
I don't really have anything to add to the economic analysis presented upthread, which I think is generally sound.

I have no enthusiasm for renting because part of the fun for me is getting there and back in my own car.  However, I will rent whenever the logistical advantages are compelling.  In Alaska in 2004, my friends and I flew in and rented because the alternative was to spend a minimum of one week getting to Alaska from the lower 48 in one of our vehicles.  (I would gladly have done this, but my friends were on a tighter schedule and that was not an option for them.)  To save time, I once flew in to Tucson and used a car borrowed from a relative for local travel.  Last Labor Day I left from home in a borrowed car for a 2000-mile road trip because my car was then in the shop and the car I drove got about double the gas mileage.

I don't see any sense in driving a rental just to keep mileage off an owned car, as opposed to one that is leased.  Most of the added mileage road enthusiasts rack up as a direct result of the hobby is on the highway; highway miles are easy miles and in fact offset some of the negative impacts of city miles.
We drove to Anchorage, Alaska from Dover, DE in the summer of 1965, dad was in the Air Force. We drove a 1964 Mercury Comet with a 289(?) engine. I dont remember the route we drove :hmmm:, I wasnt a road geek then but I do remember Staples, MN, Havre, MT and crossing into Canada at Sweetgrass(?) MT. It was all gravel back then and quite an adventure, dust so thick from oncoming traffic you had to stop, wildlife in the middle of the road and when a car came they didnt run, it was  like they were saying "cmon I dare ya", btw NEVER blow your horn at a moose, they WILL charge you, no I dont know this from expierence. The Alcan is totally paved now and I understand they have straightened some of the curves and rebuilt some of it into more favorable topography but I bet its still a kick to drive, its on my bucket list :nod:
On the drive your own or rent topic I am more concerned with the wear and tear on my engine rather than putting mileage on my car. I regularily drive the 70 mile round trip into Ft Walton Beach to see friends, doctors & Sams Club. I try to drive my car gently, speed under 60, slow acceleration from stops etc. Driving like that on a long trip would drive me crazy(er) I wanna go! :wave:
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Laura on July 27, 2013, 08:00:21 PM
I prefer rentals for trips over 300 miles one way. My car is somewhat of a high mileage beater, 1988 Toyota Corilla with nearly million miles (987k) so I'd rather not drive it above 70mph.

Almost one million miles!? That is AMAZING! What is your secret? Also, have you set a world record for mileage?

I've only ever rented a car once, when I was in Southern California. Very very long story short, I had time to kill before my flight left from CA to MD and I had just turned 21, so I rented a car and drove around. I generally try to avoid renting a car unless it is absolutely necessary. Even when my car is in the shop, I borrow cars, rideshare, and use public transit. I get a strange sense of pride telling people that I've driven Cavy (my old car) and Emmie (my new car) on so many adventures. I enjoy taking my cars to road meets. Mike and I will be driving to Canada in three weeks for our honeymoon, and didn't see a need to rent a car since Emmie is in good working order (and I'd rather spend the money on new tires that will last 50k miles than on a rental that I have to return).

That said, I've driven rentals (that Mike rented) and thought they were fine. When we do a cross country trip, I'd definitely consider it, but I'm most definitely too attached to my cars.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: deathtopumpkins on July 27, 2013, 08:11:40 PM
I'm annoyingly not old enough to have renting as an option yet, though one of the times we flew up to Boston before moving here, my mother rented a car to drive around so that we could spend a weekend scoping out apartments without having to take any time off school and work. It worked out nicely, since the car drove great, got excellent gas mileage, and was nice and clean. Was a Hyundai hatchback we rented from Budget.

I'd definitely consider renting on future long trips, because my car doesn't have too many miles left in it, and it'd be nice to not have to worry about anything happening to my car that I need for work every day.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Duke87 on July 27, 2013, 08:52:13 PM
Almost one million miles!? That is AMAZING! What is your secret? Also, have you set a world record for mileage?

He has not set a record. There are several documented cases of someone taking a vehicle well over a million miles in the US alone.

As for how, well, there are a lot of "right conditions" to meet:
- first of all, you have to start with a car that's built real solid. Not all models are capable of making it to that kind of mileage. Certain foreign models from the 80s seem to be best suited. Newer cars with computers in them will not last as long due to the limited life of the vital electronics, and due to being built lighter and leaner to meet modern fuel economy standards.
- you pretty much have to have a diesel. Diesel engines inherently last a lot longer than gasoline engines.
- you have to be very vigilant about keeping the car well oiled and well maintained, and this will mean regularly replacing things that most people would never think to replace
- you have to not wail on the car. Driving fast and aggressively will shorten its life
- you need for a lot of those miles to be highway miles
- it helps a lot if you live in a place where it doesn't get cold or snow in the winter. Snow and road salt put wear on things, as do cold temps.
- it helps even more if it's a dry climate. No rain or humidity = no rust
- it also helps if you have a manual transmission, they have fewer potential complications than automatics if used properly

Even with all these conditions met, though, there is also a lot of just plain old luck involved. Doing all the right things will make your car last longer, but you are still a statistical outlier if you're making it close to a million miles.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: J N Winkler on July 27, 2013, 11:51:39 PM
If you overmaintain your car, it will last as long as you like.  My last car was in the very small minority of second-generation Maximas that had gone for over 200,000 miles without a transmission rebuild, because I used my own shift points and changed the transmission fluid every 30,000 miles.  Toward the end (the car left my ownership at 227,000 miles), I think I was starting to lose a few horses, but the car still hummed along happily at 75 MPH and got better than 30 MPG in the summer.

One longevity story I remember (the source escapes me at the moment) is the Mercedes owner with a 250-mile daily commute.  When his car hit the million-mile mark, as it would have done after sixteen years of regular commuting, Mercedes apparently took it (to make into a museum exhibit?) and gave him a new one in exchange.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Takumi on July 28, 2013, 12:19:06 AM
There's a 1990 Accord that went over a million miles a couple years ago. Honda gave the owner a brand new Accord, but I'm not sure if they took the old one or not.

Back on topic, on the rare occasions I go on road trips, I prefer my own car(s, which one I take depends on where I'm going), for the reasons listed by others. Manual transmissions and the convenience and familiarity.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: hbelkins on July 28, 2013, 12:02:22 PM
I never really learned to drive a manual. Never really wanted to. And I don't get the fascination with them, as some have expressed here. I'm much happier just driving and not having to worry about using my feet (especially my left one) and my hands more than necessary for things such as shifting when there's a device that will do it for me. Besides, on long trips to unfamiliar territory, I usually have my camera in my right hand.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: oscar on July 28, 2013, 12:15:32 PM
I almost always prefer to drive my car: I know its operational limits, it's usually more fun to drive, and it has a manual transmission. :)

When one or both of my cars were stick-shift, between 1988 (acquired my 1982 Honda Accord used) and 2007 (1996 BMW 328i totaled by a drunk driver), that reinforced my preference for driving over renting.  But when I spent a few days in England in 2011, I rented an automatic-shift car bigger and more expensive than I wanted so I could focus on driving on the left side of the road and not on relearning how to drive a stick with the shifter on the left.  Now that I have experience with wrong-side driving, next time I'll rent a stick-shift, especially since those are much more available and cheaper across the pond. 
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: oscar on July 28, 2013, 12:27:12 PM
I never really learned to drive a manual. Never really wanted to. And I don't get the fascination with them, as some have expressed here.

I fried a clutch when I learned to drive a stick (I bought the car used, I wasn't wasting a brand-new clutch), so there's definitely a learning curve.  But I did appreciate that most car thieves don't know how to drive a stick.  :) That probably saved my Honda Accord, which got a lot of damage from someone obviously trying to steal the car, but he couldn't drive it away.

OTOH, working the clutch on my Accord and after it died my BMW in stop-and-go city driving was really a pain, and the stress on my left ankle may have contributed to its mystery fracture in 2006.  (By then I had a pickup truck that didn't have a stick-shift as an option, so I had that as a backstop for non-city driving, plus Metro for commuting, until my ankle completely healed a few months later.)
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Sanctimoniously on July 28, 2013, 01:29:38 PM
I've always driven my own car out of financial necessity (I'm under the age of twenty-five) and the fact that I've never flown to a destination of my own choosing. The only time I've ever rented was when I came back from Afghanistan and didn't have a car, and also didn't have the desire to purchase a new vehicle in a Marine town. I also tried to rent a new 2013 Ford Fusion to try it out, but none of the local renters had one available.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: froggie on July 29, 2013, 02:28:44 AM
Typically drive my own, unless logistics dictates otherwise.  Thus far, that has mainly been overseas trips, when my own car is in the shop, or when I want to get to Minneapolis in 3-6 hours vice 18-20.  That said, one of those times allowed me to test-drive the Chevy Cruze for a week, which was a model I was considering buying at the time...

As a side note, if you ever have to rent a car in Minneapolis, get it in downtown Minneapolis instead of at MSP airport.  It was barely HALF the cost of car rental at the airport the last time I did it, and you can use the Hiawatha LRT to connect between the two.  A 30-minute LRT ride and a $2.25 fare were well worth the $250 I saved.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: 1995hoo on July 29, 2013, 08:17:40 AM
Almost one million miles!? That is AMAZING! What is your secret? Also, have you set a world record for mileage?

He has not set a record. There are several documented cases of someone taking a vehicle well over a million miles in the US alone.

....

Do a Google or Bing search for the name "Irv Gordon." He drives a red Volvo P1800 that has.....a bit....more than a million.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: texaskdog on July 29, 2013, 08:26:07 AM
I've had two manuals which I owned each for about 2 years.  Just one more thing I had to worry about.  First was 1988-1990 and second was 2000-2002 and I hadn't forgotten a thing in 10 years.

Still preferred the automatic though.  Everyone told me to get rid of my 2000 Buick (130,000 miles) instead of the 1999 Civic (170,000) and I did, and enjoying the 25/36 gas mileage over the 17/20.  No A/C though and not that fun in Texas, if only I can find someone to fix it without a huge markup.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: hbelkins on July 29, 2013, 01:00:40 PM
Typically drive my own, unless logistics dictates otherwise.  Thus far, that has mainly been overseas trips, when my own car is in the shop, or when I want to get to Minneapolis in 3-6 hours vice 18-20.  That said, one of those times allowed me to test-drive the Chevy Cruze for a week, which was a model I was considering buying at the time...

A couple of years ago, mine was in the shop for some warranty work and the loaner was a Cruze. Last weekend my rental was a 2013 Cruze. They're nice vehicles.

Eric Stuve had a rental Cruze in Wichita that had 250 miles on it when he got it. It was THAT new.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: texaskdog on July 29, 2013, 01:20:13 PM
what i hate is when you rent one with good mileage and they give you a car with worse mileage.  gotta watch my bait & switch on friday :)
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: oscar on July 29, 2013, 01:40:31 PM
what i hate is when you rent one with good mileage and they give you a car with worse mileage.  gotta watch my bait & switch on friday :)

Thing is, the rental companies always say that they're out of the cars with good gas mileage, and the gas hogs they have on hand are "free upgrades".  That meant an economy car rental at the Providence airport was "upgraded" to a full-size van (not even a mini-van), and one at the Seattle airport to a Lincoln Town Car.  The only time I got what I considered a genuine upgrade was when I wound up with a Shelby Turbo at the San Francisco airport.  Yet another reason why I don't rent if I can possibly avoid it.

Not sure what you can do about it, other than to get there early, or do some last-minute shopping of other rental car agencies (assuming there's no penalty for canceling your original reservation).  That you're renting just before a weekend is not a good sign. 
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: texaskdog on July 29, 2013, 02:04:47 PM
what i hate is when you rent one with good mileage and they give you a car with worse mileage.  gotta watch my bait & switch on friday :)

Thing is, the rental companies always say that they're out of the cars with good gas mileage, and the gas hogs they have on hand are "free upgrades".  That meant an economy car rental at the Providence airport was "upgraded" to a full-size van (not even a mini-van), and one at the Seattle airport to a Lincoln Town Car.  The only time I got what I considered a genuine upgrade was when I wound up with a Shelby Turbo at the San Francisco airport.  Yet another reason why I don't rent if I can possibly avoid it.

Not sure what you can do about it, other than to get there early, or do some last-minute shopping of other rental car agencies (assuming there's no penalty for canceling your original reservation).  That you're renting just before a weekend is not a good sign. 

I'm going to call over there a few hours before and make sure the kia rio is still there or if not tell me what they're giving me so i can check the mileage.  tired of having gas-hogs pushed off on me.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Brandon on July 29, 2013, 02:37:28 PM
what i hate is when you rent one with good mileage and they give you a car with worse mileage.  gotta watch my bait & switch on friday :)

I usually specify an economy or a compact only and refuse any "upgrades".  That, I find stops the bait and switch crappola.  My last rental (in Corpus Christi, Texas) was a Ford Focus.  Not a bad car, but it did have an automatic.  Those never shift as nice as I can with my manual.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Brandon on July 29, 2013, 02:45:31 PM
Typically drive my own, unless logistics dictates otherwise.  Thus far, that has mainly been overseas trips, when my own car is in the shop, or when I want to get to Minneapolis in 3-6 hours vice 18-20.  That said, one of those times allowed me to test-drive the Chevy Cruze for a week, which was a model I was considering buying at the time...

A couple of years ago, mine was in the shop for some warranty work and the loaner was a Cruze. Last weekend my rental was a 2013 Cruze. They're nice vehicles.

Eric Stuve had a rental Cruze in Wichita that had 250 miles on it when he got it. It was THAT new.

I wasn't all that impressed with the Cruze when I got one as a rental last year.  My car (2011 Dodge Caliber) was in the body shop - it was hit while parked in the front right quarter panel.  I found the transmission balky even with the autostick shifter.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: formulanone on July 29, 2013, 02:48:28 PM
A couple of years ago, mine was in the shop for some warranty work and the loaner was a Cruze. Last weekend my rental was a 2013 Cruze. They're nice vehicles.

Eric Stuve had a rental Cruze in Wichita that had 250 miles on it when he got it. It was THAT new.

I had a 2012 Fiat 500 in August 2011 out of DTW with 5 miles on it, which surprised me, since new car manufacturers specify at least 5-10 test-driven miles as part of the pre-delivery process.

I've had a few Avis cars with under 1000 miles, but a fair number with 30,000 miles and up. I had a 2011 Crown Victoria with 37,000 miles that was almost two years old, turns out they're not that popular.

Cruzes are okay, I've had a few, they're decently feature-laden, but the steering feel is non-existent.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: corco on July 29, 2013, 03:21:55 PM
yeah, I was actually hoping to get a Cruze for the Wichita meet- I'm going to buy either a Cruze or a Focus at some point in the next few months. My parents have a Focus that I've driven a few times, so I know what that car's like. I've valeted a couple Cruzes, but never driven one faster than 20 MPH or so.

Got a Corolla instead, which, blech.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: agentsteel53 on July 29, 2013, 03:30:25 PM
I think the fewest number of miles I've ever had on a rental is 11.

brand new Corolla.  six of them had arrived that morning - six consecutive license plates, in fact. 
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Truvelo on July 29, 2013, 03:46:50 PM
I prefer to drive my own but the places I like to travel the most, North America, makes it impossible.

I have never had a rental car die on me and as the vehicles are generally replaced every 6 to 12 months there's always that new smell you get when stepping into one. I did have trouble with one car where the brakes shuddered every time they were used so I returned to the car rental company and was given an alternative vehicle. I suspect a previous renter was performing last minute stops with heavy braking and overheated the rotors causing them to warp.

As for the free upgrades that some on here have called gas guzzlers it depends what you want when you rent a car. For me it's vacation so I want something that's relaxed and entertaining. Cars with good mileage tend to be dull to drive. A tin box with a tiny underpowered 4-cylinder engine won't do when I'm climbing the Rockies with 10% grades. As gas is half price of what we pay over here I couldn't care less whether a car does 20 or 30mpg. I always book a full size car which would be something like a Taurus but the upgrade will be a Crown Vic instead with its 8 cylinder engine. On some occasions I have ended up with SUV's or, as I did last week, I got a Dodge Challenger.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: froggie on July 30, 2013, 12:46:47 AM
Maybe I'm just lucky, but I've never had the "bait-and-switch" issue that some here have alluded to, with one exception.  But that exception was a government rental and I had no control over it (which, BTW, is why I will *NEVER* own a Dodge Caliber...no offense to Brandon).
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: corco on July 30, 2013, 01:12:25 AM
I haven't either, which would probably turn me off renting since I do it for the fuel economy. I've gotten stuck with a Nissan Cube, which didn't get that great of gas mileage. I also got stuck with a Kia Soul when I had booked a Chevy Malibu/Ford Fusion/or similar but I actually really liked the Soul and it got fantastic gas mileage. If I didn't insist on buying an American car, I'd probably buy a Soul- that vehicle is basically perfect for my needs (great gas mileage, I can sleep in it if I have to, decent enough ground clearance that I can take it on a logging road and not feel guilty, quite inexpensive, available with a stick).

Somebody tried hard to upsell me to a Mitsubishi Eclipse convertible once, but I wasn't going anywhere near that.

 I usually don't book the economy class of car, because you usually get stuck with some stripper tin can with the fleet motor and no cruise control and a crap transmission that doesn't get great gas mileage (when I've booked in that class I've gotten a Nissan Cube, a Chevy Cobalt with no cruise, and a Hyundai Accent that didn't even have power windows). I book compact/intermediate to get into the Ford Focus class and will often upgrade to the standard if there's a vehicle on that lot that will get better mileage (I've had great luck with the last generation Fusion especially)/the same mileage but is enjoyable to drive. I don't book in that price class from the beginning because I don't want a 200/Avenger- those are perfectly good cars bought off a lot, but the fleet versions have these terrible 4-speed automatics that get shit gas mileage and aren't fun to drive- the ones off the lot usually have Chrysler's silky smooth 6-speed. I'm happy with a Malibu/Fusion and haven't gotten stuck with a Camry/Sonata/Optima/Galant yet- I had the choice between a Fusion and a Camry once, but since my strong preference is to drive a car built by a company headquartered in the USA I opted for the Fusion. I think I've rented 10 times or so- rented/gotten (Enterprise unless otherwise noted):

1: Rented compact, got 2010 Ford Fusion, so yay
2. Rented economy,  got 2009 Nissan Cube which sucked
3. Rented intermediate, upgraded to 2009 Chevy Malibu that had the six-speed automatic, so that was good news
4. Rented compact, got 2010 Hyundai Elantra which was awesome
5. Rented economy, got upgraded to 2010 Toyota Corolla which was fine
6. Rented economy, got 2010 Chevy Cobalt with no cruise, which sucked
7. Rented economy, got 2011 Hyundai Accent which meh
8. Rented economy, got 2012 Hyundai Accent that actually had roll up windows and locks, no cruise control
9. Rented standard, got 2012 Chrysler 200 with the shit powertrain, got terrible gas mileage
10. Rented standard, got 2012 Kia Soul that was awesome
11 Rented compact from Hertz, upgraded to 2012 Ford Fusion for not much money. Had leather seats, sunroof, cruise control- very well equipped and got great gas mileage. Probably my favorite rental car ever.
12. Rented compact, got 2013 Toyota Corolla. Got what I paid for.

Then I've driven a few motor pool Dodge Avengers out of the U of Arizona and U of Wyoming motorpools that had the same shit powertrain as the 200 I rented.

Now that I'm out of underage fee territory, I'll probably take my business to Hertz whenever possible as they don't make you stipulate what states you will visit in the contract and generally have better cars (my Dad always rents from Hertz, so I've been in a lot of Hertz cars) for not much more money. Under 25, Enterprise almost always has the friendliest underage fees- the place in Laramie always waived them for me, and the one in Butte did as a goodwill gesture for this last trip when I pointed out that I was returning the car the day before my 25th birthday. The people at the Enterprise in Tucson were kind of dicks, which is why I switched to Hertz for the last rental there.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: oscar on July 30, 2013, 03:14:53 AM
Now that I'm out of underage fee territory, I'll probably take my business to Hertz whenever possible as they don't make you stipulate what states you will visit in the contract and generally have better cars (my Dad always rents from Hertz, so I've been in a lot of Hertz cars) for not much more money.

The only time I had that issue was with Enterprise, which at the Baton Rouge airport tried to limit me to Louisiana.   Only problem was, the shortest route to my second business destination cut through southwestern Mississippi, so I insisted on adding Mississippi.  Then I told my secretary to never book me with Enterprise again. 

I did later wind up with Enterprise on a local rental through a dealer, a "free" rental while my car was in the shop.  Of course, there were a few little charges I had to pay (not terribly offensive, and probably not unique to Enterprise, but still).   I've since declined free rentals from any company, using public transit instead.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: AsphaltPlanet on July 30, 2013, 08:45:36 AM
I usually rent with Enterprise.  I have rented with Hertz too which was pleasant, and with Dollar in Texas, which I wouldn't repeat.

In 2011 I too got upgraded to a Ford Fusion and to echo Corco's sentiment it was among the better cars I have driven in the past few years.  Had leather a moon roof, great gas mileage and was quite powerful.  I rented a Ford Fiesta for a daytrip last week and was underwhelmed with it.  I always shudder when I get a Chrysler product.  I rented a Dodge Avenger while in Phoenix in the spring time and I think it was the biggest piece of crap I have ever driven.  Gas mileage sucked, it was way underpowered (particularly for mountain roads), and felt unbalanced while driving around curves.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: jwolfer on July 30, 2013, 09:40:22 AM
We have rented minivans for long trips with the family.  Just nice to have the extra room.  We had a 2007 Sonata and it was nice to have a Chrysler Town and Country with the stow and go for extra storage and we could put one of the center seats flat for the extra room.  In the past we did rental cars for trips when we did not want to drive an old car with lots of miles from Jacksonville to Indiana
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: jeffandnicole on July 30, 2013, 11:06:04 AM
I've never had a problem getting a low-mileage vehicle with Dollar in Vegas - they seem to have quite a bit of turn-around and keeps them current (and I find I go out there often, which is why I brought that up).

My first trip out to Vegas, I rented a vehicle for 11 days (we included a trip to California on that trip).  I wanted to take a long, fun day trip thru Death Valley (in May, it wasn't hot), so I rented a 2nd vehicle for a day - a Jeep Wrangler, which Dollar had at the time.  First thing was taking the soft top off.  2nd thing was trying to take the doors off, but they were specially bolted on so the renters couldn't do that with basic equipment. In the 14 or so hours I had that vehicle, I racked up 535 miles driving all throughout Death Valley.

Normally though, when my travels don't involve flying, I prefer my own vehicle.  Like others said - I know the vehicle, but I also know what fits where within the vehicle, how comforable the vehicle will be for naps, etc.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: hbelkins on July 30, 2013, 12:54:42 PM

The only time I had that issue was with Enterprise, which at the Baton Rouge airport tried to limit me to Louisiana.   Only problem was, the shortest route to my second business destination cut through southwestern Mississippi, so I insisted on adding Mississippi.  Then I told my secretary to never book me with Enterprise again.

Enterprise was the rental company I used because they had an office there in the Chevy dealership where my vehicle was being repaired. I had a couple of options when I was told they couldn't find the part to get me fixed that afternoon. The garage offered a loner with the stipulation that it could only be driven in Missouri, neighboring states and Texas. I had actually given some thought to calling off my trip and driving home Saturday and then driving back to Springfield on Sunday, but that would have required me to take a different route than I-44 and I-64 since Indiana doesn't border Missouri. Or they offered me the option of renting at their rate of $25 per day. To be on the safe side, I opted to rent and continue my trip.

Quote
Chevy Cruze

I enjoyed driving the Cruze. It had plenty of power, handled well, and generally was fun to drive on the two-lanes of Kansas and Oklahoma. Wish I hadn't left my radar detector hookup in my vehicle, though, as not having it with me generally limited to me to 5 over the speed limit.

The only real issue with the Cruze was getting in and out of it. Since I'm a bigger guy, I felt like I was falling into it every time I got in it because I'm used to vehicles that are higher off the ground (Saturn Vue and Toyota Tacoma). And if I was parked next to someone I couldn't get the door open wide enough to comfortably get out without becoming a contortionist.

Maybe I'm just lucky, but I've never had the "bait-and-switch" issue that some here have alluded to, with one exception.  But that exception was a government rental and I had no control over it (which, BTW, is why I will *NEVER* own a Dodge Caliber...no offense to Brandon).


Our IT person's work vehicle is a Caliber. I always liked the looks of that vehicle but I have heard several people who have driven them say they didn't like them. Of course I'll never buy GM or Chrysler again so I wouldn't consider buying one now, but those Calibers must not be much to have heard so many complaints about them.

Quote
Kia Soul

I haven't been in a Soul nor have I driven one, but I like the looks of them. Maybe one of these days I will rent one for a trip just for the heck of it.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: agentsteel53 on July 30, 2013, 01:01:52 PM
I once had a Dodge Caliber get a stuck accelerator on me, on I-44 about 20 miles east of Oklahoma City.  I very vehemently insisted on being met by the side of the road with a replacement vehicle.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: texaskdog on July 30, 2013, 01:14:14 PM
Thanks for the reminder. I just called Hertz about Friday's rental since they charged my fiancee $13/day addl driver last year and since she's my "Domestic Partner" now there is no extra junk fee.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Dr Frankenstein on July 30, 2013, 01:32:21 PM
I would rent a car on some occasions, mostly because my trust in my 2004 Pontiac Sunfire is slowly fading away for very long trips... but I can't. Being under 25, there's this assumption from the insurance companies that I'll abuse the car, and it makes it all very expensive if not impossible.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: texaskdog on July 30, 2013, 01:37:10 PM
BTW I've heard over and over there are only 3 good companies:  Hertz, Avis, and National.  I've stuck by that.  Alamo hosed me big time.  National is not close to me so I only use the other 2.  Though I did use enterprise because they used to only be a block from me.  Spendy but i used them when others were paying.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: PHLBOS on July 30, 2013, 02:36:07 PM
I never really learned to drive a manual. Never really wanted to. And I don't get the fascination with them, as some have expressed here.
The fascination or interest in a manual tranmissioned car is likely due to the following:

1.  Not as/so much w/newer models, but manual transmissioned cars typically get better fuel economy than their automatic counterparts w/the same engine.  With gas prices rising again, those seeking to buy a small car might consider getting a manual for that reason alone.

2.  Shifting through the gears can allow one to obtain more optimum performance/better acceleration.  Many would scoff at driving a sports/sporty car equipped w/an automatic.  To them, standard/manual is the only way to go.

3.  Easier control in an ice or mud situation; one's forced to shift into a lower gear in order to get through such.  Many who drive automatics tend to forget about the use/importance of the lower-gear positions and/or overdrive lock-outs when encountering such driving conditions.  (another topic for another thread)

4.  If one has either a weak battery or starter; one can push-start a manual transmissioned vehicle.  This worked w/a friend of mine's '87 Nissan Sentra that needed a boost.

Back to the topic at hand; for me, I would rather drive my own car(s).  The only times I rented was either:

a.  When traveling to a destination by air and needed a vehicle to get around.

b.  When my own car(s) was either out of commission or not up for the long trip.

c.  When I needed more room or cargo capacity than my own vehicles could handle.

The one advantage/virtue of renting a car, as others have stated, is that one gets to check a different type or make of vehicle than one owns.  If one's in the market for a new/replacement vehicle; renting a different type of vehicle may influence one's decision to be a similar-type vehicle down the road.

One caveat when renting, especially for those that aren't familiar w/car sizes and/or models, is that many rental companies tend to over-classify the size of the vehicle in question.  For example: I've seen many rental agencies classify a Ford Focus (a compact) as a mid-size car.

Being under 25, there's this assumption from the insurance companies that I'll abuse the car, and it makes it all very expensive if not impossible.
It's called profiling.  :sombrero:

I don't know about Canada, but in the States, there are some rental agencies that will rent cars to somebody as young as 21; but the agency may not be either a major chain or offer the newest models.

Nearly 23 years ago, when my car was temporarily out-of-commission due to an accident; I wound up renting a 3-year-old ('87) Ford Escort wagon from a company called Rent-A-Wreck because the major chains would not allow a 24-year-old to rent from them.  Adding insult to injury was the fact that I needed the rental a week prior to my 25th birthday.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: corco on July 30, 2013, 02:55:39 PM
Quote
I don't know about Canada, but in the States, there are some rental agencies that will rent cars to somebody as young as 21; but the agency may not be either a major chain or offer the newest models.

Yeah, as I said above, I rent all the time and I just turned 25 a week ago- been renting since I turned 21. It's a bit more legwork up front, but it can be done. The underage fees are also arbitrary and can be negotiated. The Enterprise in Laramie, for instance, would quote them on the reservation because corporate mandated them but waived them when you actually went to get a car- it was explained to me that Laramie is a college town and a good chunk of their business is college kids, so they never charge the fees even though corporate dislikes that. Maybe try to find one by a college?

Also, if you're enrolled at a college you can sometimes backdoor into a deal that doesn't charge underage fees. It'll probably be buried deep on your university's website, but I've known such promotions to exist (I've researched this in great detail and definitely stumbled on other universities (never one I was attending) having this sort of deal).

I think this is a change that's happened in the last 15 years or so- but at this point all major chains rent to 21-25 year olds at almost all of their locations. The old "you have to be 25 to rent a car rule" is at this point a myth- used to be more or less true, but not at all anymore.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: 1995hoo on July 30, 2013, 03:24:33 PM
....

3.  Easier control in an ice or mud situation; one's forced to shift into a lower gear in order to get through such.  Many who drive automatics tend to forget about the use/importance of the lower-gear positions and/or overdrive lock-outs when encountering such driving conditions.  (another topic for another thread)

....

The same people also tend to forget about the lock-out device when driving on mountain roads or other steep hills. Damn frustrating to get stuck behind someone like that on, say, a two-lane mountain road.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Brandon on July 30, 2013, 03:32:35 PM
....

3.  Easier control in an ice or mud situation; one's forced to shift into a lower gear in order to get through such.  Many who drive automatics tend to forget about the use/importance of the lower-gear positions and/or overdrive lock-outs when encountering such driving conditions.  (another topic for another thread)

....

The same people also tend to forget about the lock-out device when driving on mountain roads or other steep hills. Damn frustrating to get stuck behind someone like that on, say, a two-lane mountain road.

Hell, I've had to use the overdrive lockout to get a Toyota Camry up to freeway speed quickly.  It belonged to a guy who was carpooling four of us back up to Houghton, Michigan.  I found it seriously lacked power and used the overdrive lockout to get to freeway speed on the ramp instead of pulling a FIB-type maneuver and merging at 40 mph.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: corco on July 30, 2013, 03:32:41 PM
Quote
The same people also tend to forget about the lock-out device when driving on mountain roads or other steep hills. Damn frustrating to get stuck behind someone like that on, say, a two-lane mountain road.

I feel like these people never know how to drive sticks at all- anybody who has ever driven a stick doesn't want to be driving up a grade in an overdrive gear, they want to downshift. Another problem is that overdrive lockouts aren't always visible/are weirdly marked. In my Liberty, it's a tiny button on the side of the shifter. Most Fords with column shifters have them marked as a button on the edge of the shifter with a trailer graphic, which makes people think it should only be used when trailering (which is really terrible misrepresentation). Back on the subject at hand, that's the one thing I really liked about the Corolla I rented- the shift out of overdrive just required bumping the shifter to the left- very easy to grab and do without looking.

It's part of why it should be mandatory for driver's ed to teach kids to drive in cars with manual transmissions- there's a certain level of driving (call it advanced driving) and understanding of what your car is doing that is most easily picked up from driving a stick- even if you go drive an automatic for the rest of your life, at least you have some understanding as to what your transmission is doing. Too many automatic drivers clearly don't have that and it's visible on things like steep grades.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: PHLBOS on July 30, 2013, 04:03:56 PM
Most Fords with column shifters have them marked as a button on the edge of the shifter with a trailer graphic, which makes people think it should only be used when trailering (which is really terrible misrepresentation).
My '97 Crown Vic has its lock-out labled as O/D LOCKOUT; my '07 Mustang has O/D embossed on the button itself, located on right(passenger's) side of the T-shifter.

The '91 Ford Club Wagon that my church owned had the O/D LOCKOUT button located on the dash just below the left pod (fuel gauge).

That trailer graphic that you speak of must only be on the trucks and/or SUVs.

My previous O/D equipped vehicles ('85 Grand Marquis & '89 Caprice) featured a separate gear setting for the lockout; D as opposed to a circled D (for overdrive).

Compounding the problem (people not shifting to lower gears on automatics) is that with the increased number of gears/speed settings that today's transmissions have (to yield better fuel economy); most gear-shift positions now only contain 2 forward postions: D for Drive and either S or M  (for Standard or Manual).  The former reminds me of the shift display on my brother's old '70 Pontiac Tempest that had a 2-speed PowerGlide automatic transmission.  It's simply not practical (in the case of Chrysler's new 8-speed transmission) to have a P-R-N-D-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 arrangement.

The days of new vehicles equipped with 3 and 4-speed transmissions are gone. 

Anyway, in order to set today's cars to a lower gear, one needs to place the shift on S (or M) and either push the shift either right or left, or press a button on one side or the other.  I wonder how many will forget to do such?  Again, another topic for another thread.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: corco on July 30, 2013, 07:15:31 PM
Quote
That trailer graphic that you speak of must only be on the trucks and/or SUVs.

Yeah, it's a change that's happened only in the last five or six years. It's definitely on the trucks/SUVs/vans. I don't think any other Fords have column shifters anymore- the Crown Vic did but I think in the last years that shifter's button was just totally unlabeled (though pressing it still activated a dash light).
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Duke87 on July 30, 2013, 11:27:58 PM
Anyway, in order to set today's cars to a lower gear, one needs to place the shift on S (or M) and either push the shift either right or left, or press a button on one side or the other.  I wonder how many will forget to do such?  Again, another topic for another thread.

My car requires no such thing. My shifter is P-R-N-D-L, and merely putting it back to the "L" setting keeps the transmission in first gear.

This isn't as useful with hills or ice than full manual, though, because 1) if you want to keep the car in second or third gear, tough - it's either just first or full automatic, and 2) you need to come to a complete stop before you can switch between D and L.

As for O/D lockout, I will confess I have never used it. I wouldn't think to unless I were somehow having a problem by not doing so.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: J N Winkler on July 30, 2013, 11:28:37 PM
It's part of why it should be mandatory for driver's ed to teach kids to drive in cars with manual transmissions- there's a certain level of driving (call it advanced driving) and understanding of what your car is doing that is most easily picked up from driving a stick- even if you go drive an automatic for the rest of your life, at least you have some understanding as to what your transmission is doing. Too many automatic drivers clearly don't have that and it's visible on things like steep grades.

I don't disagree that there are strong advantages to taking driver's education with manual-shift cars.  But that background is no guarantee that a person will be able to handle an automatic safely on steep grades.  I have a friend who was used to driving stick-shift and was behind the wheel of a Dodge Caravan (automatic) going down the 10% grades on US 14 Alternate in the Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming when he smoked the brakes because he had no idea he needed to shift to a lower gear range.

There is just no substitute for knowing what you are doing--no matter how many transmission types you have used.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: J N Winkler on July 31, 2013, 12:14:18 AM
Compounding the problem (people not shifting to lower gears on automatics) is that with the increased number of gears/speed settings that today's transmissions have (to yield better fuel economy); most gear-shift positions now only contain 2 forward postions: D for Drive and either S or M  (for Standard or Manual).  The former reminds me of the shift display on my brother's old '70 Pontiac Tempest that had a 2-speed PowerGlide automatic transmission.  It's simply not practical (in the case of Chrysler's new 8-speed transmission) to have a P-R-N-D-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 arrangement.

The days of new vehicles equipped with 3 and 4-speed transmissions are gone. 

Anyway, in order to set today's cars to a lower gear, one needs to place the shift on S (or M) and either push the shift either right or left, or press a button on one side or the other.  I wonder how many will forget to do such?  Again, another topic for another thread.

Frankly, I don't mourn the three- and four-speed automatic transmissions, much less the old two-speed automatics (Dynaflow and its cousins).  I also don't see the simplification of the gearshift layout in automatics as a problem because in newer cars with clutchless shifting (for which a "S" or "M" position is provided on the gearshift), there are usually secondary gear indicators.  For example, if you use clutchless shifting in a second-generation Honda Fit, which has paddle shifters in the steering wheel, the gear setting is shown in the gauge cluster.

I think the lack of standardization in how clutchless shifting is implemented in newer automatics is a secondary problem.  The primary difficulty is that hill-handling techniques have more or less dropped out of the usual driver's education curriculum.  Novice mountain drivers therefore have to "learn by doing," generally without the benefit of advance study of their owner's manuals to understand how the transmission (whether manual or automatic) can be used to hold a steady speed on hills.

If you don't even know that using engine compression to control your speed on downgrades is a key element of safe mountain driving, then you are likely not going to familiarize yourself with the gear controls to the extent necessary to handle hill descents without relying on the brakes.

Returning to the topic of clutchless shifting:  I would much rather have the present state of affairs, where most automatics have some form of it with imperfectly standardized ergonomics, than what came before, which was to simplify the gearshift layout on four-speed automatics by making it impossible to select certain gear ranges.  My 1986 Nissan Maxima, for example, allowed progressive lockout of higher gears all the way down to first (overdrive lockout, then a "2" range which limited gear selection to first and second, and finally "1").  My current car, a 1994 Saturn SL2, allows lockout down only to second gear (no "1" equivalent).  As a result, I don't feel comfortable taking it down steep downgrades which the Maxima would have handled without difficulty, such as the portion of Marin Avenue in Berkeley that has a 25% grade, or the portion of FM 170 in Texas near the Rio Grande (about midway between Presidio and Lajitas) that has a downgrade of 15% or 17%.  The slopes I encountered for which first gear was necessary were at least a hundred times rarer than the ones requiring second gear, but once the brakes smoke and fade, you crash just as hard at the bottom.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: corco on July 31, 2013, 01:11:16 AM
Quote
As for O/D lockout, I will confess I have never used it. I wouldn't think to unless I were somehow having a problem by not doing so.

You probably aren't dealing with massive mountain grades so much, so probably not much chance to use it.

One place I do really like using it, and I'd encourage you to give it a try because I bet you'd like it too, is when you're passing another car on a two lane road. You probably push the gas right before you pass and wait for the transmission to kick down as you accelerate, which is great, but you have to hit a sweet spot because if you press too hard you'll downshift two gears which is really bad for the car (jerky, you're downshifting to near-redline) and don't get to maximize your acceleration because of it. Try kicking off overdrive a second before you pull out into that other lane- you'll have access to a lot more of your high-end torque than you would otherwise since you're not also trying to convince the transmission to shift and can complete that pass more quickly and a lot smoother.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: briantroutman on July 31, 2013, 03:26:35 AM
I rent cars when mine is on the other side of the country—usually in the SFO long-term lot. Otherwise, I don't think I'd ever rent a car for a road trip. Other than for a capacity issue as mentioned. There have been too many times I've received a stripped out Nissan Versa or Hyundai Accent with no USB connectivity, no cruise control—and definitely not anything as whimsical as a sunroof, like I have on my own car. Now, if I had a curiosity about a particular car and could reserve that specific model with certain features guaranteed, I might do that.

And add to that that you absolutely can't rent cars with manual transmissions in 'Murrica anymore…

I never really learned to drive a manual. Never really wanted to. And I don't get the fascination with them, as some have expressed here.

I suppose this is one of those "If you have to ask…" sort of situations. Yes, I originally learned to drive on a car with an automatic (a minivan with column shift, no less), but I later self-taught driving a manual transmission—and did so on the streets of San Francisco at that. One clutch and a couple years later, and I'm enjoying driving more than ever before. I previously owned an identical model of the same car (Toyota Matrix) with an automatic, but the manual allows me to make most of the small 1.8 liter engine. And I can thrash through the gears, accelerate as fast as I want, and I'll still get 35 MPG without trying. While still having lots of fun.

But sadly, it seems post people don't consider driving to be fun. To them, it's a chore, and actually having to shift gears would make it even more of a chore. I wish these people would make it official and get on public transit. Seriously. Their begrudging presence on the road makes everything so much less pleasant (i.e. roads more congested) for people that actually do enjoy driving.

BTW I've heard over and over there are only 3 good companies:  Hertz, Avis, and National.

When I do rent (from airports), I use Hertz. They used to be ridiculously expensive, but now I find them to be in line with the other majors, sometimes less with a AAA discount. In my experience, their equipment is typically the newest and best kept of the major companies, even if the cars aren't always well equipped. If you belong to their Gold Plus club, they'll send an email when you land with the type of vehicle you've been assigned and the space number—then you just walk past the counter, get in your car, and drive away. I'm sure other companies are doing something similar now, but after several queue-from-hell experiences in the past, this has been a joy by comparison.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: PHLBOS on July 31, 2013, 08:27:14 AM
My car requires no such thing. My shifter is P-R-N-D-L, and merely putting it back to the "L" setting keeps the transmission in first gear.
Given that your Ford Focus is of the 2008-2011 vintage; I'm a tad surprised.  I do know that the 2012 and later models (equipped w/the 6-speed automatic) offer the ability to shift into all the gears on the 'S' setting. 

I do realize many Ford vehicles equipped w/AOD from the 80s and even 90s that didn't have shift positions for each gear (usually P-R-N-O/D-D-1, ...O/D-D-2 on '91 and earlier Crown Vic Police cars).  But one would've thought that Ford changed that when it introduced the O/D LOCKOUT button in the early 90s... at least by the later 2000s.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: hbelkins on July 31, 2013, 11:30:55 AM
But sadly, it seems post people don't consider driving to be fun. To them, it's a chore, and actually having to shift gears would make it even more of a chore. I wish these people would make it official and get on public transit. Seriously. Their begrudging presence on the road makes everything so much less pleasant (i.e. roads more congested) for people that actually do enjoy driving.

I enjoy driving. I just don't enjoy shifting.

If you don't even know that using engine compression to control your speed on downgrades is a key element of safe mountain driving, then you are likely not going to familiarize yourself with the gear controls to the extent necessary to handle hill descents without relying on the brakes.

I get concerned about the engine revving at high speeds for long periods of time using engine braking.

The Mount Washington Auto Road has a list of vehicles that are and are not allowed to use that road. My '08 Saturn Vue is allowed because it has a shiftable automatic transmission (for lack of a better term).
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: agentsteel53 on July 31, 2013, 12:40:32 PM
2) you need to come to a complete stop before you can switch between D and L.


that's unusual.  mine can be thrown into 2 and L while moving. 

are you sure the restriction against L was not invoked because you were going too fast, and the resulting RPMs would have been past redline?
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: jeffandnicole on July 31, 2013, 12:49:32 PM
A fellow carpooler of mine was complaining that when he rented a car on a recent trip to Denver, then drove into the mountains, the car was having problems and he had to pull over for a while.  When he returned the car, he told the person that the car wasn't made for the mountains, and that they should ask each and every customer where they will be driving so they won't have the same issues.

This particular carpooler comes up with many insane answers to problems that don't exist, or only apply to him.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Brandon on July 31, 2013, 01:13:32 PM
2) you need to come to a complete stop before you can switch between D and L.


that's unusual.  mine can be thrown into 2 and L while moving. 

are you sure the restriction against L was not invoked because you were going too fast, and the resulting RPMs would have been past redline?

I attempted once to get a neighbor's Hyundai unstuck in the snow by rocking it back and forth between D and R.  It turned out that the damned car would not let me shift from D to R without using the brake and coming to a complete stop.  That completely defeated the purpose of rocking the car out of the snow.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: corco on July 31, 2013, 03:31:49 PM
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I attempted once to get a neighbor's Hyundai unstuck in the snow by rocking it back and forth between D and R.  It turned out that the damned car would not let me shift from D to R without using the brake and coming to a complete stop.  That completely defeated the purpose of rocking the car out of the snow.

Good heavens! Why in the world would you want to shift from D to R without stopping? That's the worst possible thing you can do to a transmission- if you tried doing that in a car with a manual it would grind like crazy- that's probably an intentional lockout. Even at the lowest of low speeds that's terrible for your car.

D to L though...if you're going less than, say, 18 MPH in a Focus there's no reason that shouldn't work. My parents have an 08 MKX that has a similarly annoying PRNDL shifter with nothing else but an overdrive lockout, and it definitely goes into L at low speeds- they use it all the time to get out of our neighborhood in the winter.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: J N Winkler on July 31, 2013, 03:40:08 PM
If you don't even know that using engine compression to control your speed on downgrades is a key element of safe mountain driving, then you are likely not going to familiarize yourself with the gear controls to the extent necessary to handle hill descents without relying on the brakes.

I get concerned about the engine revving at high speeds for long periods of time using engine braking.

I generally don't, because even at those speeds the engine is still hydrodynamically lubricated--in other words, the parts that would otherwise be in contact with each other (such as the piston rings and the cylinder wall) are actually floating on films of oil.  Because the oil pump is gear-driven off the crankshaft, oil pressure is broadly proportional to RPM and thus is quite high when engine compression is being used to limit downhill speeds.

In descending order of the damage they do to the engine, the following are to be minimized when they cannot be avoided:  (1) cold starts (an old rule of thumb is that one cold start produces wear on the engine equal to 500 miles of driving), (2) warm starts, and (3) high revs before the engine reaches normal operating temperature.

I wouldn't want to go down a 25% slope on a cold engine on a regular basis, but with a warm engine I wouldn't give it a second thought.

Quote
The Mount Washington Auto Road has a list of vehicles that are and are not allowed to use that road. My '08 Saturn Vue is allowed because it has a shiftable automatic transmission (for lack of a better term).

Do you mean it has clutchless shifting?
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: Duke87 on July 31, 2013, 10:16:18 PM
My car requires no such thing. My shifter is P-R-N-D-L, and merely putting it back to the "L" setting keeps the transmission in first gear.
Given that your Ford Focus is of the 2008-2011 vintage; I'm a tad surprised.  I do know that the 2012 and later models (equipped w/the 6-speed automatic) offer the ability to shift into all the gears on the 'S' setting. 

Actually, I looked up the owner's manual and apparently the L setting does allow access to all gears, it just significantly raises the shift points. I was assuming it never left first gear in L because I haven't seen it do so... but then, the only occasion I can recall using L for a significant period of time was going down the Moki Dugway, which was something I wasn't going to do at more than 25-30 mph (and the car was still in first).

2) you need to come to a complete stop before you can switch between D and L.


that's unusual.  mine can be thrown into 2 and L while moving. 

are you sure the restriction against L was not invoked because you were going too fast, and the resulting RPMs would have been past redline?

I don't know whether it will actually stop you from shifting while moving and I haven't attempted it. I'm just going based off of having been taught both by my father and by drivers' ed "never change gears on an automatic while moving, you'll destroy the transmission" - i.e., you shouldn't switch while moving, even if the car will allow you to.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: corco on July 31, 2013, 10:42:19 PM
Quote
I don't know whether it will actually stop you from shifting while moving and I haven't attempted it. I'm just going based off of having been taught both by my father and by drivers' ed "never change gears on an automatic while moving, you'll destroy the transmission" - i.e., you shouldn't switch while moving, even if the car will allow you to.

That's definitely true from drive to reverse- and I'd suspect that's what your driver's ed teacher meant (which is why they put neutral between the gears). It can be true from drive to the lower gears if you really don't know what you're doing. Shifting from D to L at 60 MPH is probably really bad for the car. At 15...not so much. Do take your foot off the gas when you shift though.This is where knowing how to drive a stick can come in handy- you won't destroy the transmission at all if the revs are in the right place. I can see the merits in not shifting from D to L just to be safe- but shifting from L to D is totally fine, possibly even good for the transmission at all times. The only time you risk damaging is if you downshift while your RPMs are too high- because then your RPMs will be even higher and you're harassing your transmission. Going from L to D will drop the RPMs and you'll be fine. That's why you'll note you have to depress your gear lever to go from D to L but it goes from L to D with just a bump.

Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: J N Winkler on August 01, 2013, 02:02:57 AM
Good timing, as well as closing the throttle, helps prolong transmission life when downshifting.  It is much smoother to shift into lower gear at the top of the grade, before the car starts to gather speed from the incline.

When I negotiate hills in the mountains, I have two basic rules:  (1) I shouldn't have to apply the brakes just because of the incline; and (2) if the transition from one gear to another feels smooth, it is good.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: froggie on August 01, 2013, 04:32:23 AM
No, you don't want to swtich from forward to reverse (or vice versa) while moving, but if you're going forward, you can easily shift gears in an automatic while moving and not have it kill the transmission.  I habitually lock-out overdrive and/or downshift to slow down if I'm coming up on a situation (stop sign, red light, traffic jam, etc) where I need to slow down or stop and I see it ahead of time.  Not only have I gone over 160K in my Corolla without a transmission issue, it also saves on brake wear.  Went 110K on a single set of rear brake pads (which don't wear out as quickly as the front pads in my car).
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: djsinco on August 03, 2013, 03:24:03 AM
I never rent, enjoy my road trips in my Lexus way too much. Pretty solid 31 MPG on the highway, and plenty of comfort. In the last few years I have done 2 trips over 8,000 all over the country, and 3 trips of 4 - 5,000 miles. Despite this, my 6 year old ES still only has 60K on it, as I work from home and combine errands as much as possible.
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: BuffaloSabres on August 04, 2013, 02:44:17 AM
I prefer renting a car even though I enjoy driving my truck on long trips. The way I see it you save money (MPG) and you do not have to worry about a breakdown somewhere along the way. I broke down once on the MI/IN border in mid December and lost my hotel reservation in Chicago. Total loss mounted to well over $400.00 for repairs, a last second hotel stay, tow truck fees, and the lost hotel reservation. A rental would've set me back $130.00 (standard car unlimited miles).
Title: Re: Rent or drive your own?
Post by: texaskdog on August 05, 2013, 03:25:10 PM
Funny they offered us a much smaller car with worse gas mileage for the same $58.  Then offered us a bigger car that cost more but said if we could get it back by Sunday it would be $52.  They charged my card $252 Friday and another $100 today, so supposedly this $352 will only be $52...I think it will be okay.