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Thread: Car rentals

  1. Default Car rentals

    Hey folks,

    This has probably been covered somewhere else, but I didn't find it and need some advice.

    I'm flying to Salt Lake in August and renting a car. Looking for something in the compact or midsize range, I think. There will be four of us traveling, so we do want decent trunk space. We're not all that concerned about mileage since we're going to be splitting gas costs 4 ways and the difference isn't that significant.

    Anyway, my real questions are as such: I've never rented before so I don't really know what to expect for price, or where to look. Any suggestions? We will be picking it up early afternoon on a Saturday and dropping it off by about 7 a.m. two Sundays later, for a total of 8 days. Looking online, I've seen about $270. Does this sound good, bad, ugly? My sister is over 25 years old and it will be in her name so we won't have the extra fees for young drivers.

    Also, would you recommend getting the offered insurance? And should I book a car in advance online, or wait until I get there?

    Thanks, everyone!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Standard Advice

    First: There are a number of web sites that will let you compare the rental rates from the major companies (and a few other) at airports. The 'Big Three' are Travelocity, Expedia, and Orbitz but there are several others as well. Just put in your dates and what kind of vehicle you want (if you know) and let them do the work.

    Second: I now consider anything in the range of $200-250/week for a mid-sized rental to be doing just fine, so you seem to have an OK deal.

    Third: Just because your sister will rent the car in her name does NOT mean that the underage (less than 24 years old) get to drive on 'her nickle'. If hers is the only name on the contract, then only she (and with some companies, her spouse) gets to drive. Do NOT be tempted to try to skirt this rule.

    Fourth: Check with your sister's insurance company to see if her coverage extends to rental cars. If it does, decline all the additional coverage that they 'offer'. Also check with her credit card company and AAA if she belongs. They also sometimes provide coverage on rentals charged to their card or if you've reached a certain level of membership.


  3. Default More on rentals

    Thanks for the quick response. I have another question that I just thought of as well -- when we go on trips, we generally like to take to side roads, often unpaved, for exploration and photos. Never anything with the potential to damage our vehicles -- it's just sometimes required to get to the "cool" places. (For example, as I recall, the road to the Bodie Ghost Town in California is unpaved, and that's the only way in.) Is this generally frowned upon by rental companies?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Yes, sort of

    You will find language in pretty much every rental contract that prohibits 'off-road' or 'off-paved-highway' language. So they're covered. But there are attractions that can only be reached by dirt road (Bruneau Canyon is my favorite). So what to do besides read all the fine print and go nowhere? I follow two general rules.

    First, graded dirt roads are fine. Anything that I can get off by going through a car wash in the next town (or just before I return the rental) is fine. Alamo ran a series of adds a few years ago claiming that there were 4 million miles of road in 'Alamo country', but there are only 2 million miles of paved road in the US. I take my clue from that. By the same token, roads listed as 4WD or AWD only are out. The gray area is gravel roads, which I avoid because there is nothing more annoying than being presented with a $300 bill to touch up the paint where it's been chipped in a few places. And yes, they look.

    Second, "No harm, No foul". The car is my responsibility. As I alluded to above, if I go off somewhere and mess up their car, it's up to me to make it right before I return it. Even if it's only a car wash. Whatever you do, don't expect to be able to go off and do whatever you want ("It's only a rental!") and not have to pay for the damage. On the other hand, if you go "off-road" and return the car exactly as they gave it to you, who cares? It's certainly not worth their time and effort to come after you.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Chuckles! ;)

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Alamo ran a series of adds a few years ago claiming that there were 4 million miles of road in 'Alamo country', but there are only 2 million miles of paved road in the US. I take my clue from that.
    I like the way you think!

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