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Author Topic: Rent or drive your own?  (Read 20565 times)

hbelkins

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Rent or drive your own?
« 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #1 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #2 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 :)
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #3 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.

« Last Edit: July 24, 2013, 02:47:22 PM by corco »
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #4 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #5 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #6 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.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2013, 05:40:40 PM by roadman »
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hbelkins

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2013, 06:18:45 PM »

I know that everything works properly

Well, I thought the same thing too last week.  :ded:
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oscar

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #8 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.   
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #9 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #10 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.

Brandon

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #11 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #12 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.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2013, 07:16:45 PM by formulanone »
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hbelkins

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #13 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?
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texaskdog

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2013, 02:26:35 PM »

I like how people on both sides make good points!
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #15 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #16 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. 
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #17 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #18 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:
« Last Edit: July 27, 2013, 01:00:17 AM by allniter89 »
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vdeane

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #19 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #20 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #21 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:
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #22 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #23 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.

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #24 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.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2013, 08:57:53 PM by Duke87 »
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If you always take the same road, you will never see anything new.

 


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