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Road trip with my car or a rental?

I have a 2010 Hyundai Elantra with 70K miles on it. I am going to be driving from Austin, TX to Albuquerque, NM in mid-August. Is it better to take a rental car or my car? I’ve heard that for this kind of trip, it’s better to take a rental…that it’ll be easier on my car but I wanted to ask the CarTalk community. If it doesn’t matter, I’d like to take my own car.

Not sure who you have been listening to. Highway driving at legal speed is very easy on a car and very good for a car that has had only city driving.

If the car is in good condition, you have very little to worry about. Hyundai Elantras are very common now.

I once took a 7000mile trip pulling a trailer with mu father in law’s Buick station wagon with 100,000 miles on it. No problems.

If you had an exotic or rare luxury car I would advise against it.

A 10 year old used Jaguar would be a no no, for in stance.


You heard wrong. As long as your vehicle is running fine, I see no reason not to use it.


The round trip is just over 1400 miles. If you would drive that around town without a thought why rent a car.

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If you take your car, make sure all maintenance is up to date and consider taking the car to your mechanic for a pre-trip inspection.

People fuel their vehicles, check the oil and might even check tire pressure and take off on trips all the time. Pre-trip inspection sounds like overkill.

Yup take your own car. That’s a hop skip and a jump.

It’s a seven-year-old car that will be driven through some pretty rural areas in blazing heat. It seems reasonable to me for a mechanic to look for any obvious problems before doing so.

Unless your car has some undisclosed problem, just be sure the maintenance is up to date (especially the cooling system) and enjoy the trip. Austin to Albuquerque really isn’t that far a drive.

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I have a 7 year vehicle and if I decide to visit my home town tomorrow I will check oil , tires and fuel up and just drive the 600 miles.

NEI (Not Enough Information!)

I’ve done both for trips.

How many miles? If it’s a quick trip and if you can rent a suitable car with unlimited mileage at a reasonable cost and if you have full coverage insurance on your Elantra then a rental could be the way to go. Sometimes a suitable car will also deliver better mpg.

I rented a new vehicle with 4,000 miles on it and drove it for 3400 miles within 10 days for less than $250. I will leave my vehicle in the driveway every time at that price.

See if you have an Alamo or Enterprise (off-airport site) agency near you and get a quote. Some discounts/upgrades are available for those who search online.

In your situation driving your own car should work out fine. But I’d probably rent a car for that trip myself if I could do the whole trip in a week. If you search around for rental car rates, sometimes you can get a really good one week deal if you book enough in advance. I’ve got a rental car for $100 for the whole week one time, but that was an unusually good deal and probably 15 years ago. But $250-$400 for a week should be possible, maybe even less if booked well in advance. The last time I rented a car, just a few years ago, it was Chevy HHR for four weeks for $800. For some reason the rental place that turns out to be the least expensive in my area is Sears. Sears doesn’t rent cars but the stores in my area provide an office there for Avis and other rental agencies. Sears unfortunately seems to be going away daily, but if you still have a store nearby, stop in and ask how much it would cost to rent a car for your trip. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Last summer I did a 2200 mile round trip in a 15 year old car with 104,000 miles made by a manufacturer that no longer exists through states that wouldn’t have recognized the car model. Later that year I took a 125,000 mile 11 year old vehicle on a 1400 mile round trip.

I didn’t think twice about either one because my cars are properly maintained and I own a cell phone.

I’ve got several cars that will make very long trips, too. However, the last thing I want to do is screw around with car problems, any car problems, when I’m on vacation or in a strange neighborhood.

If the rental car breaks or crashes the rental car company will send somebody to me and if they can’t get the thing roadworthy, they’ll issue another vehicle.

With my luck I could be passing through Cornsucker’s Gulch and stop at a Wal-Mart and have some clown drive into a rear 1/4 panel of my parked car and pin metal against the tire. Not my problem, man! “Get a car out to me and fast!”

Subtract half an oil change, wear and tear (on your own car), and add peace of mind, and the rental is worth it to me. It’s insurance to "Have a nice trip."

I had a broken rental car on a fly-and-drive vacation. I actually stopped at the local Ford dealer to have them check for a failing front wheel bearing. They would have fixed it under warranty (30,000 miles on the 1 year old rental) IF they’d had the parts! Shorter than a few hours it took to get another rental car and pretty much exactly the same wait as delivering me a rental while my car would be sitting in the Ford dealer getting repaired.

Sooo… the screwing around part is a given either way. I trust my own cars more than some strange rental but that’s me.

I just drove to Toronto and back in my 222,000 mile Sienna (about 400 miles) and I am planning to load it up with five people and a week’s worth of vacation gear to drive to Cape Cod in ten days. That will be about another 700 miles, or more, of driving, fully loaded. While I can’t predict what might break on a car with this many miles I can say for sure that it has been well maintained and I have checked over all the mechanical items that I can inspect before any long trip. A car with 70,000 miles that is in good shape should have no issues going on long trips.

I have done four 1,000 mile round trips with my 2010 Kia Forte which is your Elantra’s cousin. Your car will probably appreciate a 1,400 mile highway trip. If it’s in good condition (especially tires) go for it. If it’s your first time driving in NM don’t be concerned about the 85 octane regular unleaded fuel. It is proper for the high altitude. On the other hand if you are considering replacing your Hyundai rent a car you are interested in and do an extended test drive.

Take the car you are familiar with and make it a happy car. If you are afraid to put miles on your car just rent a car full time and leave your car rusting in the driveway :slight_smile: