Rental Car vs Personal Car

I’ve spent most of the last winter in Boise, but still call the Seattle area home. I own a BMW X5 that turns 15 years old this year. I ordered it from the factory with the options I wanted, and have been happy with it other than the gas mileage, which I understood when I bought it, and the electronics, which are now 15 years old.

A driving trip from Boise to Seattle is 500 miles each way. That means a trip is a minimum of 1000 miles. My X5 gets as much as 19mpg on the highway, and it requires 91 octane or better fuel. A round trip in my vehicle is going to be a minimum of 52 gallons of fuel, plus wear and tear on the vehicle itself.

I did some quick research and figured out that a comfortable sized rental car would include a Ford Focus, and it should get about 38mpg on the highway, and it would probably take regular fuel, which is already 20¢ per gallon cheaper. I’d driven a Focus in Hawaii in the past and liked the way it drove so was interested in trying it out for this purpose.

I’d plugged in my start and several destinations into Google Maps and come up with a distance I’d drive of 1200 miles for estimation purposes. I created a simple spreadsheet with rough details. I was hoping to get as many as 38mpg in my rental car, which meant that I’d get a savings of over $100 towards paying for the rental car.

Rental Car BMW X5
1200 1200 Miles to Drive
38.00 17 Miles per Gallon
31.57895 70.58824 Gallons of Gas
 $       2.57  $     2.79 Average cost of Gas
 $     81.16  $ 196.94 Total Cost of Gas
 $ 115.78 Savings by using a rental car

I rented from Budget. They didn’t have a Focus, but I got a Nissan Sentra that had very nice electronic toys for me to play with, including Bluetooth connectivity for my phone for both music and telephone calls. It also connected to my phone via the USB connection which seemed to have slightly better audio, plus keeping my phone charged the entire time. The rated MPG seemed to be about 5mpg less than the Ford, but you take what you can get.

After the drive, I tallied up my gas receipts in the fashion I keep track of with my X5 normally.

Date Gallons  Total Mileage MPG Average MPG  Dollars/Gallon Miles In Tank
11/3/2016 1.212 2.86 18200  $     2.36
11/3/2016 9.222 23.97 18538 36.65 36.65  $     2.60 338.0
11/8/2016 8.284 20.37 18806 32.35 34.62  $     2.46 268.0
11/8/2016 3.552 2.239 18924 33.22 34.38  $     0.63 118.0
11/8/2016 6.359 16.4 19122 31.14 33.63  $     2.58 198.0
11/9/2016 6.673 15.74 19346 33.57 33.62  $     2.36 224.0

And then I transferred that data into a duplicate table like the first one.

Rental Car BMW X5
1146 1146 Miles to Drive
33.62 16 Miles per Gallon
34.09 71.625 Gallons of Gas
 $       2.31  $     2.53 Average cost of Gas
 $     78.72  $ 181.15 Total Cost of Gas
 $ 102.43 Savings by using a rental car

I didn’t get quite the mileage that I was expecting to get while driving the rental car, and it seemed to go down as I drove it longer. I’m guessing that it was largely related to my being more of a leadfoot the longer I was in the car. I paid $171.78 for the rental car, so the estimated gas savings mean that I paid less than $70 for not having wear and tear on my own vehicle.

Nissan Sentra Instrument Pod

Nissan Sentra Instrument Pod

Nissan Sentra

Nissan Sentra