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Old 5th November 2015, 18:28   #61
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Default Re: Rent a car in the US

This is my personal experience for road trips in the US. A very detailed report

Had not come across this post in team-bhp before I decided to take a rented car. So, it was "Ignorance is Bliss" and I rented a car from Enterprise Car Rentals in Raritan, NJ. The trip was for the 4th of July 2014, longish weekend from my office in Raritan,NJ to my cousins residence in Lake Mary, Florida using the Interstate-95 (I-95). The weekend being a major holiday in the US calendar Amtrak and Flights were packed and costing in excess of $600 for a round trip from NY to Orlando. So decided to take the plunge and drive all the way to and fro alone.

I was stationed in Hillsborough Township not very far from my office in Raritan. I booked a small hatchback car (only Chevy Beat known as Spark there) two days before my round-trip at a very reasonable cost of $40 per day for 5 days which i felt was reasonable. I spoke to the Manager in Enterprise a day before who upgraded me free of cost to a higher class sedan. The day I was supposed to leave was a working day and to rent and give back the car at a reasonable time, as per the manager's suggestion I reached his office at 2.00 PM afternoon from my office. The booking was seamless. He just took a copy of my Indian licence and did the paperwork for the rentals. He showed me two cars - Chevrolet Cruze and New Hyundai Elantra - The Boat. I took his suggestion to take the Hyundai as it was more comfortable, spacious and giving better mileage which was the right decision. He also suggested me to take the insurance for any damages or "Complete Loss' Policy. I however took the optional insurance and car damage insurance at an extra cost of $15. I also borrowed a Garmin SAT NAV for $20. The Gas was exactly at half point and the manager asked me to return the car at the same level on my return.

Took the Elantra and right on the first turn to my office took to the wrong side by mistake even though I kept telling myself to drive on the right side. That was the only time i went into the wrong side throughout my trip. Parked it in my Office compound and took to work till 6.00PM before wishing everyone happy holidays and leaving office by 6.00 PM. I had already packed my bags and kept it in the car. Changed to something comfortable and started my journey by road from the Sunshine City towards the Orange City.

Set the GPS to the correct co-ordinates and had hardly left Raritan I encountered a huge thunderstorm and heavy rains with low visibility in spite of the wipers working at full speed. TO BE CONTINUED.
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Old 15th December 2015, 15:23   #62
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Default Re: Rent a car in the US

I am on a trip to the US for 3 weeks in the end of December. I have planned to rent a car to drive to Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. This is the first time I would be driving in the US. I drive pretty well back home following all the rules. I have done lot of reading on US road rules, exiting and entering freeways etc.
Can anyone give me some advice on the driving conditions to Grand Canyon from Vegas? I will go for either Hertz or Avis. I am tempted to drive a bigger car. Any ideas on which one I should choose? I do not have an IDL. I checked the DMV sites of Arizona and Nevada and an Indian license is valid and no IDL is needed. It will be just me and the wife with only me driving. I plan to drive with my brother who stays in Atlanta for a few hours to get used to.

I am very excited but at the same time tense about breaking any rule or not properly merging onto freeways.
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Old 15th December 2015, 15:42   #63
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Default Re: Rent a car in the US

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Originally Posted by rohanak1 View Post
I am on a trip to the US for 3 weeks in the end of December. I have planned to rent a car to drive to Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. This is the first time I would be driving in the US. I drive pretty well back home following all the rules. I have done lot of reading on US road rules, exiting and entering freeways etc.
Can anyone give me some advice on the driving conditions to Grand Canyon from Vegas? I will go for either Hertz or Avis. I am tempted to drive a bigger car. Any ideas on which one I should choose? I do not have an IDL. I checked the DMV sites of Arizona and Nevada and an Indian license is valid and no IDL is needed. It will be just me and the wife with only me driving. I plan to drive with my brother who stays in Atlanta for a few hours to get used to.

I am very excited but at the same time tense about breaking any rule or not properly merging onto freeways.
Nevada is actually a very easy state to drive. Just download the California drivers handbook. It tells you what to do.
After that take their dummy written tests. You learn a lot by just that.

As for merging, remember to get to 70mph(or whatever is the speed of other vehicles on that road) if the freeway is empty.

If its a crowded freeway, signal. Usually, somebody will let you in.
That said, avoid going more than 5-7mph over limit. If entire traffic is going 10mph over limit, just follow the train. Never be the train engine, or the guard wagon. And last but not the least, never drive in the left lane, unless you are overtaking.

All said and done, give the car to your brother in Vegas city limits. That city has some weird combo of russian Indian USA driving.
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Old 15th December 2015, 15:59   #64
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All said and done, give the car to your brother in Vegas city limits. That city has some weird combo of russian Indian USA driving.
Thanks for the response. Actually I would be driving with my brother in Atlanta for practice. The driving in Vegas would be done by me alone. I checked on the maps and see that from McCarran international we get to the freeway in a short time. I would be going on a Monday morning. So I do not expect a lot of traffic on the way to Grand Canyon.
Any advice on which car to rent? I prefer a SUV or compact SUV (size of a duster may be)
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Old 15th December 2015, 16:22   #65
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SUV rentals can get expensive. Since you will be buying insurance there is a good chance of free upgrade. But don't bet upon it.

That said freeways are best for sedans. If you are on a budget rent a compact and try for an upgrade. In the US compact means something little smaller than a 747.
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Old 15th December 2015, 17:41   #66
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Default Re: Rent a car in the US

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Any advice on which car to rent? I prefer a SUV or compact SUV (size of a duster may be)
Any mid-size car should do, I would avoid the Kia's and Hyundai's but that's just me
Usually Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan cars will be available at Hertz, Avis so should not be a problem.
Having gone so far to Las Vegas & the Grand Canyon, do visit the Hoover Dam as well.

***Remember you drive on the right side of the road always so just get used to that in the first couple of days with short drives to nearby places to get the hang of it. Also learn how to merge when entering and exiting a freeway and for a long drive knowing how to use Cruise control will be a plus
Also see how to use the "Yield on Green" feature when making turns at certain traffic lights that allow this.
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Old 15th December 2015, 21:13   #67
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It also depends on your budget, but if you are in the USA, why not rent something outrageous or at least something you would never get in your home country? You are in the USA the number one car country in the world, do you really want to be renting some boring mid size saloon?
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Old 16th December 2015, 13:34   #68
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Having gone so far to Las Vegas & the Grand Canyon, do visit the Hoover Dam as well.

Also see how to use the "Yield on Green" feature when making turns at certain traffic lights that allow this.
Thanks for suggesting Hoover Dam. Will include it. Read about the traffic rules like "Yield on Green". Was wondering, how many people in India would even know the meaning of yielding. It is always "me first" in India

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
SUV rentals can get expensive. Since you will be buying insurance there is a good chance of free upgrade. But don't bet upon it.

That said freeways are best for sedans. If you are on a budget rent a compact and try for an upgrade. In the US compact means something little smaller than a 747.
Avis has an offer of complimentary upgrades for select cars. I thought of going for a Chevy Cruise and then getting upgraded. Are these upgrades only to the next level?

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It also depends on your budget, but if you are in the USA, why not rent something outrageous or at least something you would never get in your home country? You are in the USA the number one car country in the world, do you really want to be renting some boring mid size saloon?
I had all plans of renting something as outrageous as a "Camaro SS". However, it is ridiculously expensive at $205 even before the insurances. I checked this with Enterprise rent-a-car. The insurance is also extremely high for this car as expected.
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Old 16th December 2015, 17:30   #69
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Avis has an offer of complimentary upgrades for select cars. I thought of going for a Chevy Cruise and then getting upgraded. Are these upgrades only to the next level?
Don't bank upon Avis etc., Choose a renter based on who is cheapest. Dollar/Avis etc., does not matter. Just book compact.

At the counter you say you want to get
1. third party liability insurance (1 million dollar coverage)
2. Loss damage waiver

When you do that, the agents eyes will light up. These things usually get high commission to the agent in question. Then ask for an upgrade. Make up a "honeymoon" story blah blah. Just be sweet.

I always booked the cheapest car in california, which is often Economy, i.e. chevy aveo.

The lowest upgrade I got was a Dodge challenger (Compact). However I got a Nissan Altima hybrid once, a Jeep Liberty, and on one occasion a Ford Mustang.

The Liberty cost my total of 27$/day inclusive of all insurances. The Mustang was 31 because the LDW(Loss damage waiver) was 11$ instead of 9$ for compact.

My favorite in California was Dollar or Enterprise, because Avis/Hertz had a lot of corporate business, and were not really very eager.

When I rented from enterprise, the agent walked me to the lot and offered me a corolla instead of the Aveo. I could have gotten a Camry class car, but the car had issues as somebody had dirtied the car so much that it was going for professional cleaning. The guy was actually apologetic about not being able to give me the bigger car(forgot the brand).

In case of Dollar, the agent started chatting up, and I told her that I was here for a short while and me and my wife were doing some day trips. She just said, do you guys want a mustang, its just costs 2-3$ extra due to more expensive collision damage waiver.

The same agent gave me a liberty the next time I came.

Most people who rent have insurance with their USA credit cards, so very few people buy these insurance packages. You need these insurance packages. And the agent also gains. They have a lot of power in their hands. Especially on weekends when business is down.
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Old 16th December 2015, 18:11   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rohanak1 View Post
I had all plans of renting something as outrageous as a "Camaro SS". However, it is ridiculously expensive at $205 even before the insurances. I checked this with Enterprise rent-a-car. The insurance is also extremely high for this car as expected.

I just rented a Buick Lacrosse, a very American, thus ridiculous, car in San Francisco, for week for about $8-900 including insurance and GPS from Hertz.

Its useful to ask for the GPS because they might run out of cars that have a GPS and they ll upgrade you. If you don't get the upgrade, at least you have the GPS which is very useful, especially in and around major towns.

Hoover dam is definitely worth a visit. Try and take the tour that takes you inside! Very impressive. Of course, if you are near the hoover dam, you really ought to take in Vegas as well!.

Good luck
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Old 16th December 2015, 18:38   #71
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Default Re: Rent a car in the US

Agree with tsk1979, driving in Las Vegas is like driving on JC road , roads were /are bad in the city itself. The roads are always under repair in Nevada especially near Henderson and Boulder city, drive within speed limits to avoid run in with the cops.
Grand canyon would be cold now, please wear some warm clothes. Suggestion from my end , plan to visit the death valley if time permits, its nearby and beautiful.
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Old 17th December 2015, 12:53   #72
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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Just book compact.

At the counter you say you want to get
1. third party liability insurance (1 million dollar coverage)
2. Loss damage waiver

When you do that, the agents eyes will light up. These things usually get high commission to the agent in question. Then ask for an upgrade. Make up a "honeymoon" story blah blah. Just be sweet.

Most people who rent have insurance with their USA credit cards, so very few people buy these insurance packages. You need these insurance packages. And the agent also gains. They have a lot of power in their hands. Especially on weekends when business is down.
I will follow your advice and go for a compact car and then try my luck. I would be going to GC on a weekday but I expect Vegas car rentals to have low business on weekdays hence higher chance of upgrade. Since its my wife & I making up a story should be simple

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Its useful to ask for the GPS because they might run out of cars that have a GPS and they ll upgrade you. If you don't get the upgrade, at least you have the GPS which is very useful, especially in and around major towns.

Hoover dam is definitely worth a visit. Try and take the tour that takes you inside! Very impressive. Of course, if you are near the hoover dam, you really ought to take in Vegas as well!.

Good luck
I will go for GPS. Thanks for the hoover dam advice. Added it to the plan

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Originally Posted by mazda4life View Post
drive within speed limits to avoid run in with the cops.
Grand canyon would be cold now, please wear some warm clothes. Suggestion from my end , plan to visit the death valley if time permits, its nearby and beautiful.
I will keep slow and in the right lanes to avoid any issues. Will try to include Death Valley. But I do not have much time since the entire day would be gone in the GC visit.
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Old 17th December 2015, 12:58   #73
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I will go for GPS. Thanks for the hoover dam advice. Added it to the plan

.
Skip the GPS if it costs more than 10$/day
Most renters now have spare GPS to give because most people use their smartphones. Its better to buy offline navigation software like sygic if your plan is more than a week or so.
You can also use that money to get a prepaid cell data plan from a GSM provider and use your cell phone and google maps.
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Old 17th December 2015, 13:20   #74
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Default Re: Rent a car in the US

Most important: Use the mobile apps to book your car. I suggest using Budget. My discounts were GT 40%.

(It naturally follows that you have a smartphone, and so buy Sygic and skip the GPS.)

While booking, re-confirm that LDW is included. During my April'15 trip, in Arizona, somewhere near Monument Valley, a flying stone (a very small one) cracked my windshield. During the rental return, I was saved because of LDW, from both time and money perspective. I had to fill some other forms as well, as they considered it as an accident.

Also, I suggest driving to Grand Canyon from Las Vegas through St. George, Springdale, Kanab and Page. This way, you can cover Virgin river gorge, Zion Canyon, Kanab, Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and then on to Grand Canyon. Return through Kingman back to Las Vegas.
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Old 17th December 2015, 14:47   #75
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Default Re: Rent a car in the US

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I plan to drive with my brother who stays in Atlanta for a few hours to get used to.

I am very excited but at the same time tense about breaking any rule or not properly merging onto freeways.
Atlanta is full of horrid bumper to bumper traffic, both in the city and even in the suburbs. During the time we had a base there, I used to drive about a lot but invariably, the traffic was painful.
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