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  1. Default Rent or Buy a Car for 3 Month Road Trip

    Saw a post in 2008 for renting vs. buying a car. Is it still the case that you will be breakeven if renting or buying in this timeframe? We would be buying/renting in Maine and returning/selling in Florida (we live in CA).
    Looking at a Minivan between $12-$18K.
    Thanks! Christie

  2. Default

    It's Christie again - have a family of 4 with a working husband on board, so switching / relocating cars won't work. Also staying in Airbnb or hotels.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Still the Rule of Thumb

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Every case is going to be different, but the three months rule is still a fairly good indicator of when/where the break even point is on cost between buying vs. renting a car. I did a quick check on what's currently available in the way of minivans in Portland and you can just get a decent (not great) minivan with modest mileage at the upper end of your budget constraints. Of course you also need to factor in the cost of title, tags, and inspections. But then when you get to Florida, it's only going to be worth around $11,000 as a trade-in to a dealer. Probably a fair bit less as a straight sale. You might be able to get a bit more in a private sale, but then there's the cost in time to advertise, wait for potential buyers to respond, show the car, have it checked out by the buyer's mechanic, negotiate a final price, etc. Meanwhile, anything and everything that might go wrong with the car while you own it is your responsibility. So your cost is ~$7,000

    On the other hand, you can rent a newish minivan for three months picking up in Portland and dropping off in Orlando for ~$6100, and if anything goes wrong during that three months, it's the rental car company's problem. To me the choice is obvious and why we use the three month rule of thumb.


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