THIS WEEK:Should we downsize to petrol or a hybrid?
From WOL: My friends and I are going to the US for the summer during our college vacation and we’re driving from New York to Chicago. We’ve talked about renting or buying a car. Which is best?
You need to check with the rental firms before you go, but several will not rent to drivers under 25. Those that do allow younger drivers are likely to add a surcharge. You also need to check that you can drive the car in all the states you intend to visit as insurance requirements for rental cars differ in some states so they will need you to let the rental firm know of your plans. In terms of buying a car, the purchase may be relatively easy and you can pick up a banger for very little cash, though the less you pay the more likely you’ll find yourself stranded on the side of the road.
Whatever about buying the car, registering and insuring your “rust bucket” seems to be a lot more difficult. You need to register the car in your name and to do so you need a permanent address. You’ll also need that for insurance purposes. If you’re staying for a few months then that might not be a problem but even then insurance might be an issue given that you have no driving history to show in the US. Previously there were loopholes in the system but in the last decade I’m told that it has become a lot harder. Getting rid of the car at the end might also prove costly. I think if you are just planning a few weeks on the road then it makes sense to seek out a good rental deal.
From JE: Preiously you’ve suggested that buyers think again about diesel. We’ve had diesel cars in the family since the 1980s and I was on the road a lot with work. However I’ve left my job and last year we did just 5,000 kms. We’re downsizing to a small car (looking at something like a VW Polo or Ford Fiesta). Do you think a petrol would make more sense? What about a hybrid?
Yes, with your sort of mileage there is no point paying the price premium for a diesel engine. It would take you several years of frugal motoring to make back the extra cost of the car, even when saving up to 10 cents a litre and €65 a year in motor tax under the current rates. I’m not suggesting that diesel isn’t a better buy for motorists who do higher mileage, but if it’s short-hop city driving then you are probably as well to consider a petrol car. As for hybrid cars, the same issue applies: on a like-for-like price comparison with a petrol car they are often more expensive.
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