The decision to drive your car, or rent a car for long road trips, is not as complicated as it might seem

We will break down the cost, efficiency, and convenience factors to help you make the best choice for your family.

Size does matter:

If your car is too small to hold your families essentials, it is worth spending the money on a larger vehicle to keep your sanity. Adversely, if your car is too large to be considered a good economical choice for your journey, consider renting a more fuel efficient sized car. Unless you are in a newer hybrid vehicle already, the savings in gasoline can be substantial, no matter what you drive. Hybrids come in all shapes and sizes, but are in high demand during peak seasons at rental agencies. If you decide to rent a hybrid, do your homework and plan ahead to ensure your car will be available when you need it.


If your personal vehicle meets all your traveling needs consider the maintenance & depreciation costs. Driving your car on a long road trip means fast forwarding your natural maintenance interval. From simple oil changes and tire tread, to tune ups, and water pumps, your vehicle’s maintenance schedule will be affected. We have calculated various vehicles sizes to reveal the costs associated with using your personal vehicle per mile to help you better decide. The total cost trip calculator will show the actual cost of driving over the mountains and through the woods.


We can’t forget our friend depreciation. With every mile that you drive, depreciation rears its formidable head. If you have a personal vehicle that you are interested in trading or selling soon, there are mileage intervals that can increase or decrease the value of your negotiated sales price dramatically. Rolling over the thirty, fifty, or one hundred thousand mile marker can mean thousands in some cases.


Average 2014 costs are listed below by type of car.
Type of Car Average
Maintenance Costs
Average Depreciation
(¢/mile based on
15,000 miles/year)
Small Sedan 4.86 15.23
Medium Sedan 5.45 22.59
Large Sedan 6.09 33.05
4WD SUV 6.15 31.89
Minivan 5.20 25.79


So for example, here’s how to calculate the hidden cost of driving your medium sedan on a 2,500-mile road trip.

     Maintenance: $0.0545/mile x 2,500 miles = $136.25
     Depreciation: $0.2259/mile x 2,500 miles = $564.75
      Total Average Hidden Cost: $701.00

While these hidden costs may not be on your mind while planning your road trip, like paying for a rental car, it’s good to keep them in mind.