Should You Rent a Car for a Road Trip?

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It might be cheaper to rent a car for a road trip vs. taking your own.
It might be cheaper to rent a car for a road trip vs. taking your own.

Perhaps you are already planning a road trip in the new year? A road trip is an exciting adventure, but one of the major decisions to make before your trip is whether to rent a car for your road trip or drive your own. We look at several aspects of renting a car for a road trip for you to consider before making your decision.

Should You Take Your Existing Car on a Road Trip?

Here are the questions to consider before deciding to drive your car on a road trip:

  1. Is your vehicle relatively new? If so, do you want to put 3,000 or 4,000 miles on it on a road trip, which will drive down its resale value?
  2. Do you own or lease your current vehicle? If you lease your current vehicle, you will probably have to pay a penalty of up to 30 cents per mile for each mile you drive above the amount specified in your contract.
  3. If you are driving an older model vehicle, is your car roadworthy for a long trip?
It might be cheaper to rent a car for a road trip vs. taking your own.
It might be cheaper to rent a car for a road trip vs. taking your own.

Advantages of Renting a Car for a Road Trip

  1. You can choose a larger vehicle

Perhaps your current vehicle is not spacious enough for a long road trip, particularly if you are travelling with additional family members or friends. Your existing car may also not have enough room in the trunk for suitcases and sports equipment. Renting a car means you can choose the right size vehicle to suit the needs of your road trip.

2. You can test drive a new vehicle

A road trip is a great opportunity to test drive a new vehicle including new technology such as Bluetooth audio, in-screen satellite navigation and rear seat entertainment.

3. You can travel on rugged terrain.

With your own car, you might not venture off-road since it could damage your car. If you choose to rent a car such as a sports utility vehicle, you are free to drive off the beaten trail.

4. You probably won’t have to pay rental car insurance

If you have collision and comprehensive on your auto insurance policy, that will extend to cover rental cars, so you won’t have to pay additional rental car insurance of $20 to $40 per day.

5. Renting a car could be a cheaper option overall

To determine whether renting a car will be more expensive than driving your own car, you have to compare costs such as total mileage, gas prices, as well as wear and tear on your car and additional oil changes that will be required as a result of a longer trip. Keep in mind that a newer rental car may be more fuel efficient. Research estimates that depreciation rates for road trips are approximately $.20 per mile.

Disadvantages of Renting a Car for a Road Trip

  1. Your trip may not justify the expense of a rental car

Before you decide to rent a car for your trip, map out your itinerary. If you are visiting a big city and plan to check out museums, theatres and shopping, you may be able to get around easily by public transit or even walking. Renting a car that you don’t use often is a waste of money.

2. You will have to learn how to drive the rental car.

Keep in mind that you will be driving in unfamiliar territory, which will require all of your attention. Having to learn how your rental car operates may be a distraction you don’t want or need.

3. Renting a car could be more expensive than driving your own.

This may be true if you have a used auto with a fair amount of mileage on it since a used car has already depreciated significantly. Furthermore, a used Volkswagen may be more roadworthy than U.S.- or Canadian-manufactured cars due to its superior engine.

 

 

 

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