GPS Receiver: Bluetooth or USB?
Yeah, that's why I mentioned that gas (or "petrol" to you "blokes") is a lot cheaper here, so if you want to have plenty of space you can get a much larger SUV and it still won't cost more to drive it than you're used to down under.

You'd also probably save a lot of money by getting the weekly rate from a place like Enterprise than from any of the rental agencies at LAX.

Ken in Regina
Thanks for the description, Andrew. I am reminded of a favorite uncle who was into camping. I recall going with them on a few trips as I was growing up. They had a station wagon ... the equivalent shape of what's called an SUV or Crossover these days. He had it set up in a very similar fashion to what you describe. I recall being rather continuously amazed at the ingenuity and completeness of his setup. It seemed like no matter what we needed to do he had the necessary means available.

Today we would never be able to get away with his setup. With no back seat we kids sat in the back on what was otherwise the bed area. No seat belts or other safety measures. People today would have a bird at the idea!

As GoneNomad mentioned, you could go with a larger vehicle without paying a lot more for fuel. A minivan like the Dodge Caravan would get similar consumption to your Subaru on the highway and not a lot worse in town.

As he also mentioned, there is frequently a lot of money to be saved on the rental rates if you rent the vehicle from an off-site location rather than from the airport on-site locations.

Based on my experiences I would be extremely careful of dealing with Enterprise, however. I've tried to use them twice with significant issues both times. The first time I ended up using them anyway but it took an hour of arguing with them before I got a vehicle the same as, or better than, the vehicle I had reserved. The second time I gave up after 10 minutes and went to a different rental company.

There is a riskier way to do it, too. Rather than reserving a vehicle ahead you can do a "walk-in" at one of the onsite locations and often catch a really good last minute deal. This restricts you to a choice from whatever the "leftovers" are. So that might not produce a vehicle that would be suitable. I'm not recommending it. Simply offering it for your planning considerations.

Ken - how long ago were those experiences with Enterprise?

They are based here in St. Louis and here at leas they have a pretty good rep. for being one of the best companies to deal with. I haven't rented from them since 2009, but that time and every other time before then, they were better than the other agencies I'd used at airports where Enterprise had no presence.
Ken in Regina
It has been awhile. And I may be confused. Is it Enterprise or National that has no presence in airport terminals and advertises that fact, saying that it allows them to charge less? Instead they send a bus to pick you up at the airport and take you to their rental pickup location.

Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
Instead they send a bus to pick you up at the airport and take you to their rental pickup location.

A lot of them have shuttles to/from airports.
Depends on the airport, and how much room there is to park their cars.

Enterprise does have a location at STL Lambert Field.
Maybe one of these looks familiar?

Their distinguishing feature is that they do pick you up...
from anywhere that's not a long ways from one of their locations.
Every time I they picked me up, it was in one of their rental cars.
I've never seen an Enterprise shuttle bus.
Ken in Regina
Perhaps it was National. They're both green!

Whichever it was makes it a point to not have an airport terminal presence due to the cost. They advertise it as a positive that saves them money and lets them charge you less. They use (or used to) a shuttle bus to take you to their pickup location, which is usually not far away but far enough to avoid the costs associated with near-airport premiums.

Indeed, it was the shuttle bus issue that was my problem with the second attempt to use them. I had booked a car a couple of weeks in advance. When I called them the day before the flight to find out the pickup procedure they told me to just go out to their shuttle bus stop outside the terminal and that it was well marked.

They were correct that it was well marked and easy to find. The problem is that I waited for over half an hour and nobody showed up. So I phoned them to see what was going on. They said they had cancelled a couple of scheduled runs because there weren't any customers scheduled. I told them I had booked in advance so I wouldn't have the hassles of waiting around, etc.

Rather than take my word for it and arrange a pickup immediately they said they would check/verify and get back to me. I waited another 10 minutes before they finally called me back. She said they had indeed confirmed that I was booked and would run the next scheduled pickup run. I asked when that would be and she said that if it was on time it would be another 20 minutes or so.

I told her not to bother and went with a different company. The Avis booth was still open when I got back into the terminal (it was pretty late in the evening) and I got a heckuva deal on a leftover Chevy Malibu. So it wasn't entirely bad.

Sounds like National.
I had a similar experience with Alamo (I think?) at SFO.
I double-booked just to make sure but they another company both left me hanging.
I wound up having to stay over near the airport.
That was 1987.
Hassles like that have only gotten a looooot worse.
And that's why I don't fly anymore.
If I can't drive there, I guess I don't really need to go there.


And hey, Andrew, you're gonna get run over if you rent one of those little cars.
Average American car looks like this:

and the average pickup (what you call "Ute") here looks like this:

Originally Posted by GoneNomad
Yeah, that's why I mentioned that gas (or "petrol" to you "blokes") is a lot cheaper here, so if you want to have plenty of space you can get a much larger SUV and it still won't cost more to drive it than you're used to down under.

You'd also probably save a lot of money by getting the weekly rate from a place like Enterprise than from any of the rental agencies at LAX.

It is always better to organise rental in advance through a consolidator / intermediary.

They get a bulk purchase rate that includes insurance including underbody, overhead, glass, tyres and wheels damage that aren't normally covered by standard insurance.

You can research what vehicles are offered by rental companies at your pickup location and select one that matches your requirements (and hope you can persuade rental desk person to give you one of those).

You can read the rental conditions beforehand rather than trying to decipher what they mean on the tiny scratched screen at rental car checkout. You can then decide if you need additional third party insurance (YES!) for such things as:

* UMP - Uninsured Motorist Protection. With normal insurance even though you think you are covered if you get hit by an uninsured driver you aren't covered.

* Recovery after accident - The standard insurance only provides $1000 towing after breakdown. It does not provide any cover for recovery after accident. The RAA cover the rental company offers maxes out at $1000. At $10/mile this gives you 100 miles. This will only cover you for suburbs of LA. Because most rental companies are franchises the damaged vehicle has to be returned to rental office. If you are damaged in, say, St Louis which is 1800 miles from LA recovery could cost $18,000.

* Roadside assistance - you need to check whether you have cover for say flat battery.

* Loss of rental income while damaged vehicle is being repaired.

* Transport of damaged vehicle from rental office to repair facility.

* Loss of value due to damage.

As far as I am aware US rental companies will not rent for longer than 30 days without return to rental office for whatever. If I rent through Oz company I can get the vehicle for the required 62 days.


Ken in Regina
Excellent points, Andrew! I've never rented a vehicle for such use so had not considered many of those issues.

FWIW, I have used Enterprise many times over the years and never had a problem. However it is sort of a special case, my dealer has an arrangement with them to provide rentals when your car is in the shop for service, so they made all the arrangements and either took me to the Enterprise office or had the car delivered to the dealership.

A couple years ago I had an annoyance, though no fault of theirs. My car was stuck in the shop at VW over a holiday weekend when the repair took longer than expected. While I was at the grocery store, somebody stole one of the wheel covers in the parking lot.

Since the rental was also a VW, I bought a new wheel cover and replaced it myself so I wouldn't have to deal with whatever Enterprise would charge. Cost me $70... those things are expensive, I guess that's why somebody stole it. At least the dealer covered the rental cost, since the delay in repairing my car was their fault.
Yes that's the problem with loaner or test drive cars. You never know what level of insurance cover you have. You should always check before you accept.

Whenever we travel to Europe we lease Renault cars. We choose Renault because they have tyre and wheel cover, whereas Peugeot and Citroen don't. They all have glass, overhead and underbody damage.

On two occasions I have hit potholes and destroyed tyres. I drove to the nearest Renault dealership and got them to phone Renault in Paris who authorised tyre replacement. Because the tyres weren't available in stock and had to be overnight couriered in they paid for transport to a hotel and an overnight stay.

They also offered to pay for a rental car but I declined because I couldn't check what level of insurance cover I would have.

Earlier this year while we were in the Eastern States the top seam of the radiator blew. Our roadside assistance cover paid for 150km (75km out and 75km back for flatbed truck) of recovery back to Goulburn. Luckily we weren't a bit further out because we only have 200km of cover.

A new radiator had to be couriered overnight from Sydney so they paid for motel. When the radiator arrived and they could test system they found that thermatic fan controller had failed so they had to have part couriered from Sydney. It didn't arrive until late following afternoon so we got a third night's accommodation.

They would have paid for a rental car but again I declined because the operator couldn't / wouldn't tell me what insurance cover I would have.

Goulburn is a nice enough little town but there's not much to do for 3 days especially when the temp was in the 40Cs.

Of course that pales in comparison to the 5 days we spent stuck in Alexandopolis in far eastern Greece on the Turkish border due to a PC and inverter failure.

Day 1 Thu - Visit Alex and cross border into Turkey. Inverter shorted and took out PC.
Day 2 Fri - Return to Greece to buy new PC because Greece uses US keyboard whereas Turkey uses a variant of German keyboard. Public holiday so all shops shut.
Day 3 Sat - Buy new PC and setup using mains power in shop. Buy lunch. Set off. Small backup inverter tripped due to overheating. Returned to Alex after 1400. All shops shut.
Day 4 Sun - All shops shut.
Day 5 Mon - Buy new inverter and cross into Turkey. We certainly knew Alex well after our stay.
The reason we had to stay in Alex was because we had to have PC because it had satnav system on it plus travel guides and hotel booking details. This was in days before tablets and smartphones so all eggs were in one basket. Not such an issue today because we always have alternative ways of accessing satnav and Internet.
Using a consolidater or such to book car rentals is OK up to a point. And that point is if you get into a dispute with the actual renter. Then, the renter says "not my problem" deal with your consolidater who may not be as credit worthy or reliable as the actual car renter. This can happen, for instance, if the car they give you is not the category you wanted or if you have had a prang. I have been to both places. Both got sorted out in the long run; it was just a bit complicated.

As for "test car" programs, they can be good, too, but they can be a bit restrictive. I have looked into renting Mercedes cars in Europe but never quite got there. They want to limit your mileage (they give you a new car and want to sell it after still as a new car) usually to about 1000 miles/1500 kilometers and for a short period of time. Also, they want the car picked up and delivered from and to one (and the same one) of their dealers who tend not to be open much on the weekend. They are cheaper than Avis/Hertz and you can be pretty specific on the model you want. I have yet to make it "work" however.
The booking is still with the car rental company. All the Oz company does is provide a pre-paid voucher listing all insurance covered.

I will be purchasing 3rd party insurance to cover everything that car rental company CDW/LDW doesn't cover.

You should look at leasing a Renault (or Peugeot or Citroen - no tyre or wheel cover but a few more countries you can take car to - all >40) ex Paris or many locations in France for free with other countries for fee.

They are unlimited km with 100% insurance for all breakdowns and damage with accommodation while vehicle is being repaired. If vehicle can't be repaired in reasonable time they will transport you back to Paris and give you a new car.

After 4 month trip to Turkey with no damage the day before we returned car to CDG I drove up onto low bollard. Rocker panel bent. RHS side doors wouldn't open. When I returned car the check-in guy shrugged and that was that. No paperwork and no cost.


Max lease duration is 180 days though Australians can only stay in Schengen for 90 days so this limits lease unless you go to non-Schengen countries such as UK, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania, some former Yugoslavia countries and Turkey. Anyone considering lease should check Schengen limits for their nationality.
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