Road Trip Car Rental
We will be taking about a 4,000-4,500 mile road trip from Virginia to the western states over four weeks. Has anyone ever rented a car for a similar long trip and either recommend or not recommend doing so? It's not too expensive and saves miles on my car. If a problem should arrive, will most rental places replace the car for you?
Road Trip Rentals
Yep, I do this routinely. Here are a few considerations. The miles you're saving on your car are "easy" miles in that they're highway miles and don't create nearly as much wear and tear on your car as stop and go city driving. On the other hand, rental cars are much better maintained than most private vehicles, and the companies do tend to stand behind what they've rented you. I've never had a rental break down.
One thing to be careful of. Some rental car companies have caught on to this practice and will charge you more if you present them with a local driver's license. Try going on line to check pricing with one of the search engines like Travelocity or Orbitz to see who's got the lowest rates and then book through the rental company's own web site, being particularly careful if they ask whether it's a local rental that the quoted price doesn't change. And of course, make sure you get 'unlimited miles'.
My parents did this for their last two big road trips. One time, they flew to Denver, got a rental car, and did a loop out to the California coast. The other time they drove their car to an airport in upstate NY, rented a car there, and drove a loop in the midwest and south. My father did all of the driving, which also saved on the costs because most companies have a separate charge for additional drivers.
You just have to weigh the costs of using your own vehicle and the wear and tear and potential breakdowns with the costs of renting. As Buck said, rental cars are usually quite new (the last one I got for a business trip to from Boston to New Jersey had 400 miles on it) and even if the car happens to break down, the rental car company will get you another car as soon as they can so you cna be on your way with no hassle at all.