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Author Topic: Rent or drive your own?  (Read 21138 times)

hbelkins

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #50 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.

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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.

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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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #51 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #52 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #53 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #54 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #55 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.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2013, 04:24:26 PM by PHLBOS »
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corco

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #56 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.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2013, 03:27:36 PM by corco »
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #57 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #58 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #59 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.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2013, 03:42:20 PM by corco »
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PHLBOS

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #60 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.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2013, 08:14:16 AM by PHLBOS »
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corco

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #61 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).

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #62 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #63 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #64 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #65 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.

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #66 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #67 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.
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hbelkins

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #68 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).
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #69 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?
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #70 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.
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Brandon

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #71 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.
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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #72 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.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2013, 03:38:04 PM by corco »
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J N Winkler

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #73 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?
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Duke87

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Re: Rent or drive your own?
« Reply #74 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.
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