The price to rent a car
Calculators, Checklists, FIRE Commentary
Road Trip Calculator: Rent a Car or Drive Your Own?
For long trips that last only a few days, it’s often cheaper to rent a car than to drive one you own.
With all the factors you need to consider, leasing a car presents a complex decision. But here’s good news. I’ve created an online calculator that weighs those many factors with speed and ease. All you do is input a few numbers, click a button, and up pops an answer.
If you’re planning a vacation, now’s the time to take this calculator for a short spin.
Road Trip Calculator Instructions
To improve the calculator’s accuracy, follow these tips.
Line 2: Rental Cost. Research rental prices online and input whichever offer you like best, including taxes. A ballpark estimate also works fine if you’re a frequent renter who knows the prevailing rates.
Line 5: Fuel Economy (Part 2). If you know the particular model you want to rent, visit FuelEconomy.gov. Otherwise, make a reasonable estimate based upon the rental’s size (compact, full-size, SUV, etc.).
Line 6: Tire Cost. Your tires suffer wear on road trips, bringing them that much closer to replacement. Input the cost of new tires, including sales taxes and mechanic’s labor. If you’re unsure of these costs, visit TireRack.com.
Line 7: Tire Longevity. Your tires might boast a 50,000 mile warranty, but don’t expect them to last that long. Rely instead upon your personal experience or make an estimate that’s at least 10-15 percent below the advertised mileage.
I chose this formula for several reasons.
Second, this website is about frugality. Frugal owners tend to drive a vehicle until it’s ready for the junkyard. Given this tendency, a wasting asset formula depicts depreciation better than market-based approaches (market values are irrelevant if the owner never sells).
Third, even for owners who plan to eventually resell their cars, my chosen formula provides a good proxy for lost market value. Moreover, it’s more convenient to use than a valuation website such as Kelly Blue Book.
To use the calculator’s depreciation formula, on line 10 enter the total price you paid for your new or used vehicle, including sales tax. (On the other hand, if you want to use Kelly Blue Book, see the instructions that appear at the end of this post.)