Renting a Car--How to Survive Financially!Written by Larry Denton
Car rental agencies, along with other factors, have played a vital role in increasing ease of traveling whether for business or pleasure. The ability to rent a vehicle of nearly any style, size and model at reasonable rates has been a boon to travelers, world-wide. The process of renting a car, however, can be about as daunting as buying a used car. You should proceed very carefully, armed with knowledge about rental industry and information about your specific needs.
In short, there are four different kinds of basic rates charged by car rental companies: daily rates with all mileage billed extra; daily rates with a limited number of free miles per day; daily rates with unlimited mileage; and a rate that has free mileage over an extended period of time. Naturally, all rental car agencies charge different rates based on size and style of vehicle, with most firms renting economy, compact, intermediate and deluxe cars. Tip--renting a car for a full week is often cheaper than renting for five days.
An important consideration when renting a car is length of time you will be needing vehicle. If it's less than a week, you'll probably find lower rates with a major, national company like Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz or Thrifty. For rentals of a week or more, you may get better prices from local companies, especially auto dealers. Be wary of local companies if you plan to drive quite a few miles; if you have a break down or an accident, they usually lack services and support of major companies.
The basic rate you see advertised in big print in magazine, newspaper and television ads, are only tip of iceberg when it comes to car rental costs. Surcharges (usually in form of taxes) are sometimes result of greedy cities, states, airports or rental car company itself. Whoever is at fault, these nasty little add-ons can boost your total rate by as much as 50%. Sales taxes, airport taxes, concession fees, vehicle leasing fees, and drop-off fees often don't show up when you're quoted a base rate for renting a car. Renters sometimes find themselves charged other miscellaneous fees, such as a bill for shuttle that brings them from airport to car rental parking lot, or an expensive fee for additional drivers.
The best remedy to reduce "contract shock" is to use travel agents, booking services and Web sites that disclose all fees in advance. Some companies are taking away mystery surrounding car rental rates by offering "total pricing" for their cars. Your total rental cost will be calculated prior to making reservation, guaranteed to be within one percent of actual rate.
Auto Lemon –Can Your State's Lemon Law Help You?Written by Charles Essmeier
Buying a car is not like buying a radio; you cannot return it to store for a refund if you do not like it, or if it has a manufacturing defect. In fact, for many years, if you purchased an automobile that came from factory with defects, you were just stuck. You could try to get dealer to repair problem, but if problem continued and dealer could not repair it, you were out of luck.
In 1982, luck of owners of so-called “lemons” changed for better, as California and Connecticut passed nation’s first “lemon laws.”
These laws, spawned by consumers who had waged tireless battles against major auto companies, allowed owners of defective automobiles to seek compensation or replacement with help of their respective states. These laws swept like wildfire throughout country, and now all 50 states have some form of lemon law.
The specifics of lemon laws will vary from state to state, but in general, they define a “lemon” as a vehicle that:
Has a “nonconformity” that affects safety, use, or value of vehicle, andThe nonconformity has not been successfully repaired after a “reasonable” number of attempts, and/orThe vehicle has been out of service for a total of a certain number of days for repair of nonconformity.
The length of warranty period also varies; coverage typically runs anywhere from one year or 12,000 miles to two years or 24,000 miles. As previously stated, specifics vary from state to state, particularly number of repair attempts that constitute “reasonable” and number of days that vehicle must be out of service in order to qualify. In some states, repairs that affect brakes or other safety equipment need only one repair attempt to qualify as “reasonable.”
Restitution is fairly consistent from state to state; it usually requires manufacturer to either replace vehicle with one of comparable value, or refund purchase price, along with taxes, registration and delivery fees. Some states leave option of replacement or refund to manufacturer, but most give option to consumer.
What should you do if you think you have a lemon? You should: