Road Trip Planning: Should You Rent a Car or Drive Your Own?

If you are planning a long road trip you might grapple with the idea of whether to take your own car or rent.

There are a number of questions and scenarios that could make either option a more viable option so you will need to decide what is important and relevant to your situation when deciding whether to rent a car or use your own vehicle.

How fit is your car?

Before you decide to put the gas in your Toyota or whatever model you are driving, it would be a good idea to consider all the factors so that you can make an informed decision about whether your car is ready for a long arduous journey.

It is always important to keep your car in great condition and roadworthy of course, but even more so if you are planning on relying it to deliver you safely across a greater distance than you would normally travel in one journey.

Basics include checking your oil and water levels and making sure that the tires have a decent amount of tread on them.

Don’t forget to check the condition of the spare tire either, as that it is something that is often overlooked and could be a real lifesaver if you get a burst tire in the middle of journey. It won’t be much use to you if it is not in a roadworthy condition, so check it periodically so that you know it can be called into service when needed.

Age matters

The age and condition of your car are definitely factors to consider when trying to decide whether to lease or use your own vehicle.

The average basic lifespan of a typical car is about 12 years or up to 175K of mileage on the clock, whichever comes soonest.

It is not a precise science and your car could last longer of less than this time span or mileage landmark, but it is a guide to whether you want to risk using your own car if it is nearing one of these points in its lifecycle.

Cars generally start to lose their level of reliability in the last quarter of their expected lifespan, so if your car is at least 8 years old or the mileage is north of 120K, this might be a good reason to leave it at home and lease a newer car for your journey.

Miles mean money

If you lease your current car you might want to consider carefully whether you want to add some extra miles by using it for a long journey, as this could turn out expensive in the long run.

Lost lease deals restrict you to a certain amount of permitted miles per year and many of these lease deals can work out pretty expensive if you go over the figure when you come to the end of the lease.

If you think that you will run close to your mileage limit over the term of your lease, ask yourself whether you want to add some big numbers to the mileage with your trip, as it tip you over the limit and result in extra charges when you come to hand the vehicle back.

Fuel efficiency

Another important consideration for many of us is the cost of gas and how good the fuel efficiency of your own car will be for a long journey.

If you are running a truck or a large SUV, it gives you plenty of space but the fuel costs can soon mount up when compared to a midsize that might be able to achieve around 30MPG.

If you don’t need all the space of an SUV and want to keep the costs of your fuel down, it might work out better to lease a smaller car for your road trip.

Breakdown cover

If you don’t have breakdown cover and decide to take your own car, you will be responsible for the cost of towing the car to the nearest garage if it breaks down along the way.

If you rent a car it will come with breakdown cover as a standard feature and that means getting you a replacement car so that you can carry on with your journey. This is not an option if you take your own vehicle, unless you pay the cost of renting another car while yours is in for repair.

Renting gives you options in terms of space, fuel economy and the safety of breakdown cover, so if you decide to take your own car, check it is fit and ready for the journey and that you have covered all the bases in case something goes wrong with it on the way.

Erik Hervas is a Marketing expert at Patiotuerca.com, a company that publishes car listings in Panama. They provide a friendly platform to help users sell their cars and attract buyers by promoting the listings through many channels. Erik has worked for many companies in marketing and he is currently seeking to succeed with Seminuevos.com. He graduated as Food Engineer in 2004 but after owning his business he decided to pursue a career in the Marketing field. He currently reside in Ecuador with his wife and two children.


A generation 'y'er from Ireland, living his dreams and convincing you to do the same. Traveling through more than 90 countries around the world and showing no signs of slowing down

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