By on March 21, 2016

Lotus Elise At Hertz

It’s the triumphant return of Ask Jack, the question-and-answer series that has proven to be significantly less popular than Ask Bark. Today’s question comes from several commenters on the Malibu LTZ Review, and it can be summed up like this:

If you’re only driving 500 miles or so during the weekend, why would you rent a car instead of taking your Accord/911/Boxster/Neon/Tahoe/Fiesta/motorcycles/bicycles/Uber/Southwest/Car2G?

I’m glad you asked. Really, I am. ‘Cause otherwise, today’s column would have been a long snd slightly sorrowful re-telling of a time I accidentally let my S5 roll downhill into a concrete parking block because I had both of my hands between some young mother’s legs in the passenger seat and my foot slipped off the brake when I leaned all the way over towards her.

It’s probably safe to say that I’ve driven at least 30,000 miles in each of the past seven or eight years. From 2010 to 2012, my work-day commute alone was 90 miles a day. This past week I’ve driven just over 3,300 miles and that, sad to say, is not entirely out of character for me.

No surprise, therefore, that I’ve thought long and hard about what it actually costs to drive a car. I’ve given special and particular thought to what it costs to drive my Accord. Here’s my back-of-the-envelope calculation.

Depreciation: From the purchase cost of $29,500 to the estimated value of $5,000 with 150,000 miles: 16 cents a mile.

Servicing: $100 every 6,000 miles, $500 every 30,000 miles, $1,000 for 90,000 miles, up to 150,000 miles: Approximately five cents a mile.

Break-fix: Based on what I’ve read and conversations with other Honda owners, I’m estimating $5,000 in unscheduled maintenance over the course of 150,000 miles. Three cents a mile.

Tires, brake pads: It eats $1,000 worth of tires every 45,000 miles, minimum, and $500 of brake pads. Four cents a mile.

I don’t calculate fuel because the Accord uses fuel at the rate of most four-cylinder rental cars so it all evens out. Put it all together and it adds up to about 30 cents a mile. (I’m using “about” a lot because I’m not approaching this with any significant digits’ worth of precision.) It follows, therefore, that any time I can rent a car for what amounts to 30 cents a mile, it’s worth doing. Take the 500-mile Pittsburgh trip: if I can get a car for under $150, it’s worth doing. Since my cost to rent that Malibu was $52.71, it was definitely justified on that basis alone.

But wait, there’s more. In the above calculations, I’m neglecting a few things. The first thing is that Mile 1 and Mile 149,999 on the Accord are not actually of equal value. Mile 1 on the Accord is stress-free and it’s chock-full of aromatic plastics and new-car enjoyment. Mile 149,999 is done in an old car that could break down without warning and stick me with a bill for anything from an accessory drive belt to a new engine block. Therefore, I want to delay the arrival of that final mile as long as possible, and preferably until I’m completely done with my prole-ass 60-month payment plan. (Sorry, TTAC, I only buy motorcycles and Porsches with cash. Dave Ramsey would have some harsh words for me.)

There’s also the element of risk. If I back my rental car into something … well, that’s why I have a platinum Amex, because they cover it. If I back my Accord into something, I’m either making an insurance claim or writing a check. Probably both. Traveling to the Detroit Auto Show, with a guarantee of rocks, salt, mud, sub-freezing startups, and long idling? I’ll spring for the rental, thanks. Taking a long road trip to New York and letting the valets of a half-dozen hotels have their way with the car? Enterprise it is.

Naturally, there are some drawbacks, both real and perceived, to this strategy. Using a rental for a trip means making sure that everything from your sunglasses to your phone charger makes it into the rental and back out at the end of said trip. There’s a minor but not insignificant additional risk that comes when you operate an unfamiliar car in challenging conditions, while fatigued, or at night. In my experience, cops tend to pay closer attention to rental cars — and so do carjackers, if you’re in certain places.

Last but not least, there’s the fact that I simply like my stick-shift, six-cylinder, leather-lined, modest-subwoofer-equipped Accord Coupe considerably more than the average Malibu or Altima or Focus. The difference in satisfaction between driving something that chirps in third and doesn’t bear any visible interior signs of tobacco or spilled food is not something that I can easily or entirely discount. It’s my car. I like driving my own car. That’s why I bought that car.

The way I justify it to myself is that I save the best miles for the Accord: the evenings with my son, trips to the Hocking Hills, dinners out with friends. I also save the worst miles for my Accord: morning commutes where I just want to zone out and listen to the stereo and not worry about whether I have the power to zip up to the next open spot in traffic or whether my rental du jour was delivered with enough tread depth to handle a surprise Ohio thunderstorm.

So there you have it. I rent cars for trips because it’s cheaper than driving my own car, it saves expensive wear on my car, and it allows me to save my car’s best miles for the times that truly matter to me. Of course, some or maybe all of those excuses could also be used to justify having a mistress in addition to a wife. Which brings me right back to that story about rubbing the Audi’s nose on a parking block — and I’ll save that for the next installation of Ask Jack, in which we answer the question, “What’s more dangerous: dating the wife of a combat-trained Marine sniper or dating the wife of a psychotic six foot four, 280-pound firefighter?”

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

126 Comments on “Ask Jack: When To Rent?...”


  • avatar

    a) When you can’t afford to buy

    b) when you are waiting for something better – but just need something in the meantime.

    c) when you’d rather use someone elses’ than your own.

    Personally, I don’t usually drive that much. If I had to drive right now 500 miles or further, I’d rent a big, spacious, wide comfortable minivan (Town and Country) so I could relax and wouldn’t mind if the interior got messy or dirty from rest stop food.

    Even when I go to the Mopar events I don’t need to drive that far. I may have to for Virginia. I’m not renting a trailer.

    • 0 avatar

      d)when someone else is paying for it

      I’ve rented cars a few times for work to go to training. It’s especially good if you have multiple people going and are taking shifts driving, so that you don’t have to let someone else drive your car.

      (It’s especially good when one of your coworkers doesn’t drink and you can make them drive you back to the hotel).

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      I’d add a few more cents per mile for registration, insurance and taxes. These could be fairly high in the early years and decreasing during the life of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        Quite true. Here in Colorado, annual registration for a $40,000 new car is almost one grand. But these costs don’t change, whether you drive the car additional miles or not.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Jeez!

          $100 is more appropriate yeah?

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            I never thought I’d be grateful for Maryland taxes. Recently renewed the registrations on both cars, $135 for two years, each. They’re both 2009 models, but registration cost isn’t based on the age of the car.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Well, in Maine it depends on both the age and what the car cost new. A 2009 has bottomed out at this point, so a car that costs $135/yr would have been a ~$20K car new. If it were a $10K car new in ’09, it would cost 1/2 as much to register forever.

            I don’t love our personal property tax scheme here, but at least it gives you control over how much you pay. Don’t want to pay big money every year? Don’t buy cars that cost a lot new. If they did not have the income from this tax, other taxes would just be higher, and I have *no* control over the valuation of my house.

            Really, my only grip with the personal property tax is that it should be based on what the car is worth NOW, not what it cost 15 years ago. My ’01 Range Rover that is worth $5500 should cost the same to register as whatever year Corolla is currently worth $5500, not 4-5X as much.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yuup. Ours is just based on whether it’s car, truck, or heavy truck.

          • 0 avatar
            wagonsonly

            @krhodes1 – Connecticut does this – the big variable is which town you choose to live in. A Range Rover valued at $5500 will have the same bill as a Corolla valued at $5500 so long as the motor vehicle tax is the same rate and/or they’re registered to an address in the same town. But towns with exceptionally low rates (Greenwich hovers around $10 per thousand of valuation due to the very high total property valuation of the grand list of taxable property) will show much lower bills – about $55 on that Corolla in Greenwich versus $275 in Waterbury, and closer to $400 in Hartford (both of which have low real estate values and a correspondingly low grand list/high tax rate). This is as opposed to Massachusetts’ motor vehicle excise taxes, which while based on the initial purchase price, range from a high of 90% of the original purchase price (for a 2016 model in 2016), set to bottom out at 10% of the original value after six years, and are subject to a state-wide rate of $25 per thousand in valuation.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            In Maine the state sets the rates, so it is the same everywhere. The money goes to your town though. Unless you don’t live in an incorporated area, then it goes to the state. We have a lot of those, but not many people live in them!

            Rate varies from 2.4% of MSRP+fees for a new car, to .4% of MSRP at year six and up.

            The real fun one here is that sales tax on a lease is at MSRP as well. Not sure how they would handle a lease of a used car. I suppose the taxable transaction would still be from dealer to leasor, so it would be full asking price? On a new one they don’t care if you negotiate a discount on the price, it’s still at MSRP.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    The only people I know that rent cars to go on long trips do so because their own vehicles are not reliable enough to handle a trip outside of town. If I traveled frequently like you do, I’d probably rent as well. But, considering my wife and drive a total of less than 12,000 miles per year on each of our cars, we just pick one and drive it on trips (since we obviously don’t take that many).

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      zoomzoomfan, I’ve rented cars 3 times for long road trips of 2000 to 3000 miles. Besides taking advantage of unlimited mileage on the rental, if the rental breaks down the rental car company deals with getting it fixed. If your own car breaks down, you have a mechanic you don’t know in some far away place doing repair work.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Every time I look into a long roadtrip rental, the “you can’t leave the state and the adjacent states” rule pushes the price way too high to be practical. It was something like $2k for a 10 day rental to drive to and from Yellowstone from WV when I did that in 2008. I opted to take my own car because, per Jack’s calcs, 2500 miles doesn’t come anywhere near $2k per my own cost.

      • 0 avatar
        zoomzoomfan

        A 2,000 to 3,000 mile road trip? Man, that’s a pipe dream for me. My wife and I are driving my car (2016 Mazda6) from Kentucky to Florida this summer (800-ish miles) and that’s astronomical for us. I guess if I was driving cross country, I’d rather put that wear and tear on a vehicle that wasn’t mine. But for the once or twice a year beach trip, I’ll save the rental expense and drive my own.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          My longest solo trip with a
          F250 was over 6,000 km when I went North to Alaska and the Territories. I’ve done similar distances on bikes.
          Since getting married my longest trip was around 800 km one way.

          I used to work 4 on 5 off and sometimes I’d get up in the morning on my second day off and flip a coin to decide which direction I’d go riding.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I’ve rented even though I had reliable vehicles.

      When my kids got their drivers license I rented some teeny-tiny car for their road test that was easy to maneuver and park, like a Celica or Supra or even (gasp) Yaris!

      I’ve rented one-ways when picking up a new car I bought, if I could not get a ride to the seller or dealer, far, far away.

      I’ve rented to see if a Lincoln Towncar was worthwhile to buy and own. It was. My wife loved it!

      I’ve rented trucks, vans, cars for when the job was just toooooo nasty to want to use my own vehicles. And I returned the vehicle in trashed condition.

      I’ve rented 15-passenger Vans to haul people from/to the airport for family reunions at my house.

      I’m sure others can give many more reasons why they rented from their own anecdotal experiences.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Lol, a Supra for a driver’s test?! Those were faqing huge, and also powerful. Are you sure you mean Supra?

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          Maybe a Celica-Supra from the 80s? Those were more on the Celica side of things size-wise.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          CoreyDL, Yes, it was a Supra! It was the car my oldest son wanted to use for his drivers test.

          And after he passed he took his then-girlfriend, now his ex-wife, on a trip for the duration of the rent period. I believe that was three days.

          We have pics! They were Celica-Supra of the eighties.

          The word picture was just to describe the reasons I rented back then, and continue to rent even today.

          Bottom line, why trash my own vehicles when I can trash a rental?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            When was this? You’re old enough that it could have been any Supra model in history!

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            It was during the eighties when he turned sixteen.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Quite the liberal parent on that one, eh?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Corey, I have written often that it is very difficult to classify me as either conservative or liberal because I actually espouse some of either philosophy in my life because I can see the merits of both sides.

            I also think that young unmarried people having sex is super! Why not enjoy it? I did when I was young and continue to enjoy it in old age.

            The only stupid thing is not to take precautions against pregnancy and STDs when you’re young.

            So we slapped the girls on Depo-Provera right after their first menstrual period, and gave the boys a huge box of rubbers when they got serious with girls, along with a tube of Nonoxynol-9.

            I think all my kids and grand kids turned out just great, and a whole lot better than some.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            I’m sure the ones you had aborted would disagree if they could.

            What a sad and horrific philosophy.

      • 0 avatar
        Frylock350

        @HDC,
        Guy in his 30s here who would buy a new 5.0L Panther Town Car as fast as I could get to the dealer if Ford made it.

        I always used to rent before I buy; you can rent pretty much any mainstream and even luxury make and model if you look around. I will also rent if its something I don’t have, but want, but also don’t want to own. I, like you, daily drive a 1/2 ton truck. Sometimes I wish my truck was a convertible. An occasional Mustamaro or Wrangler rental is way cheaper than owning a second vehicle for that purpose! I can satisfy my desire for cool cars by occasionally renting and still own my practical reliable truck for daily use.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Another consideration is whether it’s on your own dime, or for work. Using Jack’s math, I am happy to drive all day on the company’s dime in my own car if the company pays me 55 cents/mile, while it only costs me 30 cents/mile.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Money isn’t everything if someone has a need. But if you have no money than your options are limited.

      • 0 avatar
        redliner

        This. I happily drive my car on OPE (other peoples electricity) while my employer reimburses me at 55 cents/mile. I actually don’t mind driving 100-200 miles to meet a client, because I’m getting paid for something I was going to do anyways.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      I drive 25,000 miles a year on my personal car due to job and family locations. And that total includes multiple times I have had employment related rental cars to use to pick up my children or commute back to work before dropping the car at the agency.

      Last personal rental we had for spring break 2015 put 2500 miles on the car in 9 days….

  • avatar
    redapple

    Guys that get a lot of tail dont constantly talk about it.

    • 0 avatar
      formula m

      I’m sure that beard smelt great after

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Guys that claim that guys that get a lot of tail don’t constantly talk about it don’t know any guys who get a lot of tail.

      • 0 avatar
        hybridkiller

        Guys who claim that guys that claim that guys that get a lot of tail don’t constantly talk about it don’t know any guys who get a lot of tail are usually internet bloggers (and wtf did I just say…)

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        JB I will call you out on that comment. In life you should know that when a guy claims any of the following three things about himself that he is lying. 1) If he claims that he is honest, check your fingers after you shake his hand. You know he is a scammer. If he really was honest he wouldn’t have to tell you, his reputation would precede him. 2) If he tells you how tough he is. Unless he is a pro fighter working the microphone, he will let his actions show you just how tough he is. And again his reputation would precede him. 3) If he tells you how much action he is getting. If he was getting that much action he wouldn’t have the time or energy to talk about it. And he would know enough about women, that he would realize if he publicly bragged about his accomplishments, that his targeted talent pool would soon figure out that he was just looking to add notches to his misogynistic headboard and would treat him like an oncoming case of STD.

        Or as The Old Man told me “people that can do, those that don’t talk about it”.

        Other than that I agree with the posting and personally tend to rent a vehicle, usually a mini-van for any round trip over 500kms.

    • 0 avatar
      everybodyhatesscott

      You ever get laid (with someone new) and not talk about it?

      Joke I ran across a couple weeks ago I found funny and relevant

      ‘A guy’s stranded on a desert island alone with Kate Upton. There’s nothing to do and no one around so they do nothing but bang like rabbits for a week. But after a while, although the guy originally seemed to be in heaven, he starts moping and seeming depressed.
      What wrong? Kate asks him, wondering if he’s already losing interest in her. Is there any particular fantasy you have that you want to try, or anything special that I could do?
      Well….he says, actually….there is one thing. Could you put on this baseball cap and my clothes, and then walk around the island and when you meet up with me again, pretend you’re my best friend Dave.
      Kate thinks wtf?! Does this guy have gay fantasies or something? But she does what he asks, dresses up in the man’s clothes, walks around the island and then comes up to him and says “hey dude, long time no see.”
      And the guy answers, “Dave! So good to see you! Dude, you’ll never BELIEVE who I’ve been banging all week!”’

  • avatar

    “What’s more dangerous: dating the wife of a combat-trained Marine sniper or dating the wife of a psychotic six foot four, 280-pound firefighter?”

    I think I’d be more worried about the Marine Sniper.

    6’4 280 pounds doesn’t scare me.

    I’m 6’6 and weight 350+…

  • avatar
    sirwired

    All I have to say is: The IRS doesn’t give out 54 cents a mile tax in deductions for business driving because they like giving away money; it’s a pretty fair approximation of the costs of operating a motor vehicle for a mile (and is close to AAA’s estimate of the same figure.)

    Naturally some vehicles will be cheaper, some will be pricier, but overall, it’s not a bad guide. If you drive an expensive car as your Daily Driver, it’s totally rational to rent one for a road trip and let the rental rack up those miles.

    (That said, if you LOVE your daily driver, and you end up getting a Chevy Spark from the rental lot, it may have been a rational choice to get a rental, but not a great one.)

    P.S. I will say, that with the improved reliability of today’s cars, driving one with 150k on the clock (esp. of a vehicle of well-known reliability) is not exactly a white-knuckle experience where you must fear catastrophic failure at any moment.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      “I will say, that with the improved reliability of today’s cars, driving one with 150k on the clock (esp. of a vehicle of well-known reliability) is not exactly a white-knuckle experience where you must fear catastrophic failure at any moment.”

      Especially a Honda Accord. My 09 Civic just rolled over 100K and it feels no more clattery or loud than a brand new 9th gen. I bought my last Z with 168K miles and sold it with about 190K if I remember correctly. Z felt a little worn but ran like an absolute top. Nothing but maintenance and a clutch bleed over the time I had it.

      I generally buy my cars used so I think just driving my car pays off in the long run. One huge piece that got left out of the analysis was insurance, which adds a good bit on both sides. For me it works out to about $0.07/mile. Similar coverage on a rental increases the cost by about 70-80% in my experience. So for me just driving my car is another win.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      The IRS $0.54 allowance includes fuel which Jack left out in his calculation. Assume 25MPG and $2.00 gas would add $0.08 to the total cost.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I would have no fear of taking my 186,000 mile, but expensively maintained, Legend on any road trip of any (on-road) nature. Engine runs like a sewing machine, hoses, belts, brakes, and tires are all pretty new, and the steering and suspension have been recently inspected with some parts replaced — what’s left to fail?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I had to rent a van this weekend, which I plan on writing a review of for here. Less’ee if they publish me.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Both your hands?

    I think Jack should start writing car cleaning tips.

  • avatar
    david42

    Jack, I’m particularly curious about your point about damage to the vehicle. Do you have any experience with Amex taking care of it? And how often have rental companies tried to charge you for damage–both legitimately and otherwise?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I haven’t damaged a rental car and gotten charged for it — note the combination statement there — since 1999 or thereabouts.

      With that said, Amex assures me they take care of it. It’s one of the few things that makes the Platinum annual vig worth it.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        The only two people I know who kept their cars for 15 years were both Accord owners, oddly enough – and neither one a car person.

        C’mon, you’ll sell your car when something better comes out to replace it — like the self-driving Neo-Brougham (TM) Boudoir Carriage, the Preferred Transport for Amorous Owners, with Spicy (no)Restraint devices, adjustable for cats and fractures, too!

      • 0 avatar
        david42

        So now I decided to check my cardholder agreement. Interesting exceptions:
        -“Exotics”; the list includes… Mitsubishi 3000GT!
        -Full size SUVs such as Tahoes.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Due to my age, I’ve been driving less than ten years, but I’ve had about seventy or eighty rental cars in that time. I’ve never been charged for one, either…but then, I don’t remember damaging one. I do remember driving off of the road and into a ditch in a new-ish Acadia SLT, but the car was unscathed.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I’ve damaged one rental car (moment of inattention combined with piece of metal debris in the roadway) and been charged for damaging one rental car. They weren’t the same car. I was charged for a crack in a W-body Impala windshield that happened spontaneously overnight in 40-degree wet weather. After a chargeback and about five nasty letters to the rental company and their collection agency they stopped pursuing it.

      • 0 avatar
        montecarl

        I totalled a Monte Carlo in the nineties I believe it was an Avis car…Nothing happened….I guess I got lucky

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      My experience with AMEX rental car insurance – I have the version where you pay $25 or $35 per rental (can’t remember the exact amount) and you’re covered if there’s accidental damage: I scraped the holy hell out of the side of a rented Toyota minivan while on vacation (underground parking garages in Honolulu are a pretty tight fit). Returned the minivan to Hertz, showed them where the damage was and wrote on the accident report “I accidentally scraped the side of the minivan when parking it”.

      I called AMEX when I got home and they had me complete some paperwork. Some back and forth with emails over 2 months and AMEX paid for the damages – something around $800 worth. This insurance is definitely worth getting, as there was no messing around with your own insurance company.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Jack, Your math is off. I can’t argue your methodology for computing per mile depreciation, but depreciation continues even if your car is locked in the garage. There must be some time consideration included in depreciation, and that aspect continues to lessen your personal vehicle’s value even as you cruise in your rental.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I agree.

      BUT.

      I won’t sell my car based on time — I’ll sell it based on mileage.

      If it takes me twenty years to get 150k on it, I’ll keep it the whole time.

      If it hits 150k in five years, I’ll sell it.

      That’s my personal methodology.

  • avatar
    michal1980

    thanks Jack for making my life harder.

    Just planning on a 3000 mile road trip. Its either the 2 series or a rental. Its a lease and I have plenty of miles. But at the same time, 2400+ of those miles are going to be flat, straight and boring.

    Or I can rent a full size for ~230 bucks and just completely beat on it. hmmm.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Following on gasser’s apt observation above, you’re also putting most of the roughest miles on your own car. As I understand it, there’s little wear on a car that’s warmed up, up to speed and cruising. In that situation, only the wheel bearings are operating at peak load, right? So when I’m considering buying your used car, I might want to know that those weren’t easy “highway miles” on your Honda’s odometer.

    Your most compelling personal reason to rent cars might be to write these useful reviews – and deduct the rental deduct them as expenses, as just the cost of doing business.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Given the number of racetrack laps my Accord has under its belt, and the number of times it’s been to 130mph or thereabouts, you’d be right to assume they were hard miles!

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        Honda engines are happiest at high RPMs.

        I don’t dog my V-6 Accord because it is a 2002 model, 138K miles, with the “glass” transmission.

        I probably need to sell it before and if it goes out. Other than that, I am fully confident it would do a 5,000 mile trip at any time without a problem.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      From 2002 to 2014, I commuted 150 miles a day. It was 95% interstate at 65-70 mph. Traffic volume limited max speeds. I decided to test the “highway mileage” meme in 2004 when I bought a new Saturn Ion with a 5 speed manual. Shortly after buying this car, I started on and off car pooling which brought down my average annual mileage to 25,000.
      I assumed that the car would be worn out at 150 K miles.
      However, it held up much better than I expected, and was running like new at 250K miles when I decided to replace it in 2014. In fact, it still has the original clutch. I only had one instance of a no start when the starter motor went out after a fuel stop on my way home.
      Total cost of the car, repairs and maintenance over the 12 years came to about $12.5 K for an overall operating cost of $0.20 per mile not including fuel.
      I gave the car to one of the kids so there was no residual value to bring down the cost even further. It’s still running like a top, but only gets driven 5K miles per year now.
      I hope the Honda Accord I replaced it with does this well.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “…otherwise, today’s column would have been a long snd slightly sorrowful re-telling of a time I accidentally let my S5 roll downhill into a concrete parking block because I had both of my hands between some young mother’s legs in the passenger seat and my foot slipped off the brake when I leaned all the way over towards her.”

    Dodged that bullet, then.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    After my recent experience renting cars on airline-afflicted trips, I’d prefer my own ride for pleasure trips. Not having the key to Hertz’ exclusive Lotus Lane, that is. Among the low-cost rental sources I use, I don’t know the brands available until I show up at the Compact aisle. So far, none of them have been as comfortable and good to drive as my GTI, or my Tiguan. Sure, it’s fun to sample something you’d never think of buying, like the Yaris that showed me just how loud and gutless a car could be, all at once. Then there was a Volvo from FlightCar — I was deep in downtown Seattle traffic when I realized its right exterior mirror had been broken and replaced with a cutout, silvered pie tin lid, giving fun-house views as I tried to merge lanes.

    Even up in the luxury brackets, so many ergonomic factors like seats, visibility, infotainment can create a bad fit. That’s not always apparent in the five minutes I might take to pick a car, and I’d hate to be stuck with them while they drain some of the pleasure from a pleasure trip.

    I favor renting for the big jobs, though. When a high school graduation brought aged grandparents to town, we rented a minivan for a few days and a few dozen miles. We enjoyed the utility of a large vehicle when we needed it, but we weren’t stuck driving it day in and day out. If this kind of thinking was prevalent, most of us could probably downsize our own fleets by a notch.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I wound up with a 2016 Escalade ESV rental this past January. That was something I’d never buy, but it was interesting to borrow it for four or five days. I also learned I don’t like cars that big. It was fine as long as you didn’t want to change lanes, go around corners, or perpendicular-park. Why anyone would elect to drive a vehicle that big on a daily basis is beyond me. I like my little wagon. It’s small, and maneuverable and reasonably quick.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I consider getting to try all sorts of different cars a cool perk of my crazy job (even if some of them are crap). I’ve actually been going for the smaller end of things lately – I’d actually rather drive a Focus or an Elantra than a giant whale of a thing.

        Hertz has not been as generous with the really nice cars lately. For a while it was “what color Benz will they give me this time”. I might actually switch to National if it weren’t for the fact that Hertz reward points don’t expire. I rent cars personally so seldom that I have an absolutely monstrous pile of points. So when I do rent something for myself, I always get something NICE. Or at least interesting.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          My mother used to work for Hertz, until recently. I stopped renting there when she changed jobs and I was no longer eligible for a steep discount.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I use National because I don’t rent *quite* enough to fully play the points game. Using National and being Emerald Club minimizes my likelihood of being stuck with Chrysler 200s or W-Impalas. Last rental was a V6 Epsilon Impala, a really nice car except for the Camaro-like visibility.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            My two issues with National are that their freebies expire too quickly, and in the smaller markets with no Executive aisle they tend to have a choice of “what color Impala Limited would you like”?

            I’m lucky in that in a number of markets I go to frequently I can do SilverCar or Sixt. An A4 for the price of a Hertz Malibu? Sign me up. The worst car I have ever gotten from Sixt has been a 228i, for $30/day. LOVE them.

            For my last job my employer had an account with Avis. In the days when GM owned them. All dreck, all the time, and I didn’t even get any points out of it.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I suppose that explains my good experience. I pretty much never fly into a market small enough that it doesn’t have both aisles. The only one I can recall is Juneau, where I had my choice of a 200 or a Dodge Journey. My destinations are boringly predictable: the major East Coast and California cities, Phoenix, Houston, Nashville, and once in a while there will be some other big city like Chicago or Minneapolis. Basically, anywhere where there are people who hire expensive law firms.

            It does seem to be happening more often lately, though, that the Aisle boils down to “pick your four-cylinder midsize sedan.” There’s always a bunch of Sonatas and 200s, usually some Altimas and Malibus, and maybe a Camry or Optima. Oh, yeah, and those W-Impalas that may have six cylinders but feel a decade old the day they leave the factory.

          • 0 avatar
            kefkafloyd

            Yes, I know what you mean there. Got a brand spanking new V6 Epsilon II Impala at my last rental in Chicago and I was actually pretty pleased with its responsiveness, power, and handling. For a car to chew up miles, it actually felt appropriate for the job! But GM needs to ditch that aquamarine blue interior lighting. Gimme Road Rage Red from a Pontiac any day.

            But the rear glass was like a gunslit. The rear mirror shows half the glass, half the “shelf” above the rear seats. At least it had a backup camera on that big MyLink screen.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        How to parallel park:

        Step 1: Find somewhere else to park.

      • 0 avatar
        Frylock350

        Meh, you get used to the size. Or as someone who grew up driving b-bodies, and has purchased a series of b-body wagons, panthers, and full-size crew cab trucks, its all I know.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    ” a long snd slightly sorrowful re-telling of a time I accidentally let my S5 roll downhill into a concrete parking block because I had both of my hands between some young mother’s legs in the passenger seat”

    You should have italicized “slightly”.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    The only reason I am renting a car is because I flew somewhere, or I need to carry more people/stuff than will fit in one of my cars. I did not spend the best part of $100K populating my garage to drive some wheezing rental turd to save a few pennies a mile. I bought them to drive, not to gaze upon fondly and rub gently with soft cloth diapers.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Between the P38 Range Rover, the M235i and the E90 wagon (do you still have that?) I wouldn’t think there’d be too many situations in which you’d need to rent because you didn’t have enough space.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Yes, I still have and plan to be buried in my wagon – at ~4-5K a year I sure am not wearing it out anytime soon. I’ve gotten kind of precious about it – I haven’t even bothered to put the snows on for the past couple years because I just don’t drive it when the road are bad. Some folks have a toy Mustang or Corvette, I seem to have a toy station wagon. :-)

        On two occasions in the past 10 years I have rented a minivan locally. Once for a buddy’s bachelor party (I was best man) and once when the WHOLE extended family was in town, right after Mom chopped her van in for the Prius.

        I have also used the $19/hr rental truck at Home Depot a couple times over the years. Though I usually just borrow a trailer.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Or renting something big to bring the pets to Grandma’s house is cheaper then boarding them.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    I rent when I’m going to a place like NYC or Boston that has terrible roads and where parking is a contact sport. I, too, use an AmEx for its rental car coverage properties, but you don’t have to be a platinum card holder to get out of the choice between using your insurance or paying for the rental folks’ $29.99/day “coverage.” insuremyrentalcar dot com is one of several third-party services designed to cover rental companies’ absurd charges (loss of use, diminuation of value, administrative fees, etc.), and in fact, for about the cost of that AmEx annual fee, you can get yearlong policies that cover all your rentals and even work overseas. These kinds of services change the math in your favor if the reason you rent is to expose someone else’s car to a risky or harsh environment.

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    Rent a white Crown Victoria and everybody gets out of your way and you can drive as fast as you want, nobody will bother you thinking you’re a cop in a ghost car.

    Fun story: Was driving by myself through Banff National Park, in the right lane on cruise at the speed limit in a Crown Vic. Left lane is clear(4 lane road). After a while I noticed traffic building up behind me and nobody would pass. Finally someone got brave and passed me, and when no lights or sirens came on, everybody passed me and I was by myself again.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I’ve observed that behavior, too. And, like most everyone else here, I can recognize headlight patterns…so when it’s dark and I see the headlights from a Charger or Crown Victoria behind me, it always gives me pause…

      • 0 avatar

        I hate the new Explorer police interceptors, because now when I see one I never know if it’s a soccer mom or a cop.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          You only have to watch out if it’s a white Sport model.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            If you think all cop Explorers are white Sports, don’t come to Maine… The marked ones are light metallic blue, but they have unmarked in every color of the rainbow, and not all of them are Sports, or have cop wheels. Or visible antennas. The dark tint is a strong hint though. Same with Mustangs – if you see a previous gen Mustang with dark tinted windows in Maine, you can bet it is a State cop.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The Seattle Police are very proud of their new fleet of navy blue Explorers (er, Interceptor Utilities) with stealth light bars.

            http://static.seattletimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/4cb043c4-3fa2-11e5-973f-763de49a49f3-1020×680.jpg

            I pretty much never speed anymore except on the freeway, though, so the ones I’m scared of are the staties’ which are the normal fridge white.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            The NEW, IMPROVED Ford Mustang failed the Australian Police trials in epic fashion, overheating its transmission and going into limp mode after just 3 minutes of testing:

            http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/ford-mustang-overheats-after-3-minutes-police-test/2970835/

            Ford Mustang overheats after 3 minutes of police testing
            21st Mar 2016 8:30 AM

            AUSTRALIAN police officers will not be jumping into the saddle of Ford Mustangs after the famed muscle car broke down after just three minutes of being put through its paces.

            They were outperformed by a Volvo.

            NewsCorp is reporting the Mustangs were put through intensive testing at a driving academy in New South Wales, but its automatic transmission overheated after two laps or “about three minutes of driving”.

            It then had to be taken to the Ford dealership for repairs.

            HA! HA! HAAAAAAAA!

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Deadweight – ever Google FCA transmission failures?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Round here they like to use different colored Explorer Interceptors – blue, silver, black. You ALWAYS gotta be careful, and check for roof lights.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    “The first thing is that Mile 1 and Mile 149,999 on the Accord are not actually of equal value. Mile 1 on the Accord is stress-free and it’s chock-full of aromatic plastics and new-car enjoyment. Mile 149,999 is done in an old car that could break down without warning and stick me with a bill for anything from an accessory drive belt to a new engine block.”

    That, and the fact that, aside from exotics, rentals aren’t typically limited by miles. You pay that $12.00 / day (use a credit card, don’t buy the BS damage waiver), and it’s however far you can get in that time…to be able to put wear-and-tear on a car that does not belong to you, and of which you can wash your hands when your trip is over.

  • avatar
    dude500

    A question about leasing…

    According to Edmunds, there’s a whole bunch of leases where the cost/mile is less than 30c.

    Here’s the link: http://static.ed.edmunds-media.com/unversioned/img/pdf/lease.deals/199.lease.deals.mar.2016.3.pdf

    If that’s the case, does it actually make sense to own vs. lease? If I can lease a car for 25c and never have to worry about maintenance, then isn’t that cheaper than owning a car where the total cost of ownership is 30c?

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      You are comparing a basic $17K Chevy Cruze to a well optioned $28K Honda Accord. The Cruze is cheaper whether you lease or own.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Unless you have a two-year lease, chances are you’ll still have to put tires and brakes on it.

      And unless you have a maintenance-included deal for the entire term of your lease, you’ll still have to service the car.

      The proper comparison to that 30 cent a mile rate is to my base depreciation rate of 16 cents a mile, I think.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        If you look at the Accord Coupe on that list, it comes in at 28 cents/mile. But this is an I4 LX; Jack has the V6.

        His 16 cents/mile is lower because he calculates it over 150K miles, not 36K miles, and the later miles are much cheaper because the car will depreciate slower as it ages.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I think normal drivers can probably make it through a 3-year, 36,000 mile lease on the OEM brakes and tires. Track time is not average conditions. :)

        One nice thing about three-year-old lease returns as used cars is that they often have brand-new tires put on by the dealer. If you’re lucky those tires may not even be sh!t.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          dal20402 – agreed.
          We had a Dodge Grand Caravan that never got beyond 30,000 miles on a set of brakes.
          Our current Sienna needed brakes at 40,000 miles. My truck just had the front pads changed at 56,000 miles.
          My wife’s van has needed tires around 45,000 miles.
          My truck is a bit different. The stock Wrangler SRA’s were crap and died around 30,000 miles. My current tires will probably make it to 40,000.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I think there’s a set of rules for performance cars, one for very heavy car-based minivans and large CUVs, and one for everything else.

            Our lightweight Forester has more than half the tread remaining on the slick, squishy factory Geolandars after 27,000 miles.

            Coincidentally, that’s right about when I started saying “Hmm, that tread’s looking very shallow” on the factory RS-As on my G8 GXP.

            I’ve never gone through a set of brake pads in fewer than 50,000 miles. I think I’m pretty gentle on brakes because driving buses taught me to look as far ahead as I can see.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            dal20402 – I tend to be easy on brakes but my wife isn’t.

  • avatar
    awagliar

    “.. I had both of my hands between some young mother’s legs in the passenger seat ..”

    That was very noble of you to assist with the emergency delivery.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      I have heard that Dos Equis is replacing “the most interesting man in the world” in its ads.
      I think we could make a strong case for Jack Baruth: race car driver, writer, rocker, collector and gynotician.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Don’t forget douchebag, which is really the only interesting part.

        In general, the nicer somebody is, the less interesting they are. Which is a shame.

      • 0 avatar
        hybridkiller

        “I think we could make a strong case for Jack Baruth: race car driver, writer, rocker, collector and gynotician.”

        Yeah, but can Jack claim that “he once ran a marathon because it was on his way…”?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The words being made up these days are quite interesting.

        I’m going to start a new movement with one: gynoverum.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “gynotician – A politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women’s health care decisions.”

          I always remember the joke about a Doctor telling his patient to cut his sex life in half. The patient replies, ” Which half? Thinking about it or talking about it?”

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            With my wife I don’t get no respect. I made a toast on her birthday to ‘the best woman a man ever had.’ The waiter joined me.

            I’m not a sexy guy. I went to a hooker. I dropped my pants. She dropped her price.

            source: http://www.jokes4us.com/peoplejokes/comedianjokes/rodneydangerfieldjokes.html

  • avatar
    claytori

    I have a big argument for not renting. Winter tires. We have a customer site in a remote town in northern Ontario. 7 hours by car. Or 1.5 hours flight + 2.5 hours driving + airport go-to, waiting etc. You rent a 4WD SUV thingie with summer (“all-season”) tires. Quite useless in snow/ice conditions compared to FWD with winter tires. So drive it is. Sometimes the rentals are out of windshield washer fluid and don’t have even a snow brush/scraper. A block heater cord will be missing as well. WW fluid is as necessary as gasoline up there. My winter kit also includes booster cables, blanket, shovel, safety triangle, flashlight. Note 100 miles between gas stations is not uncommon. The road can be ice covered with 5′ ditches both sides.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @claytori – I had a rental pickup that had proper winter tires on it but that was an extra expense. Same applies to other rental vehicles. You don’t sign the rental agreement unless the vehicle is ready to go.

      My winter/back country kit includes saw, axe,shovel’s’, jackall’s, tools, jumper cables, recovery strap, steel tow cables, tow chains, vital fluids for vehicle, sleeping bag, rations, flash light’s’, flares, candles, matches, lighter, reflectors, rope, tie downs, tarps, safety vests, fire extinguisher, rain gear, first aid gear and clothing/footwear appropriate for the weather. (I’ve probably left out a few items). Main haul roads tend to get looked after very well.

      Windshield washer fluid is only really necessary warmer than -10 Celsius. Deicing chemicals tend to become ineffective at colder temperatures. You get into the back country and industrial roads aren’t salted.

      5′ foot ditches in the winter? You mean 5′ high snow banks? 100 miles between fuel stops is pretty good. 7 hour drive all depends on road conditions. I’ve been on gravel roads that have taken me over 3 hours to go 60 miles.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    I have an issue with your maths. It basically assumes that not driving the car will result in zero depreciation, which is obviously not the case. Given depreciation is your largest expense, this has a significant impact on relevant costs, i.e. it costs less to run your own car than you have outlined.

    Personally i think you just like trying new vehicles, nothing wrong with that, but i am unconvinced it makes any sense to pay for a vehicle when you already have one.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Spoiler for your next installment, the psyco is more dangerous to cuckold; the trained killer could do it more effortlessly and efficiently, but is less likely to kill you and far less likely to make you suffer during the process.

  • avatar
    mwellscubed

    I mainly rent when my company car is broken for some reason. It’s a nice change of pace to sit in a different type of 4-door domestic mid-sized sedan than my usual 4-door domestic mid-sized sedan. A-yup.

    Nowhere around here rents anything interesting, or I’d probably rent something fun every once in a while.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Bark M., United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic

Get No-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners Automotive News in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked