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Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

Postby peter303 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:41 am

I divide unpaved roads into three categories:
(1) Well graded and never problems: Quandry, Halfmoon(Elbert), Winfield(Huron) are those kinds. Perhaps the rental agency might notice gravel inyour tire treads. Most of that gravel could come out on freeway drives.
(2) Close calls like Kite Lake, Grays, Grizzly Gulch.
(3) Definate high clearance like Lake Como.

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Re: Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

Postby Faldron » Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:11 am

I fly out at least once a year and if I'm going on unpaved trailhead roads I just rent the cheapest SUV. I've rented from E-Z Rent-a-car a few times and will be renting from AVIS this week.

Last year I took a rental up to the Huron trailhead past winfield, the radio towers at Princeton, and to Kite Lake. Never had any issues, but I drive it very cautiously.

Re: Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

Postby Steve Climber » Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:20 am

Tory Wells wrote:Train harder? Many people start Grays and Torreys from I-70, choosing to hike the road instead of driving it. Doing so adds 6 miles roundtrip.

Another option is hitchhiking. Hikers are generally generous and helpful folk, and most would be willing to give you a ride up and down.


+1 to this. I've hiked up from 70 a number of times and also hitched rides up from 70. Both are pretty easy. This road isn't terrible, but like crossfitter said
weird s**t can happen


If you are set on driving to the TH...just remember to use LOTS of skinny pedal. preferably in 2nd gear. also, let us know when you are doing it so we can watch.
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Re: Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

Postby MuchosPixels » Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:23 am

Txhiker42 wrote:What do most flatlanders do when they rent a car at the Denver airport and want to take it on an "unpaved road" to a trailhead? From what I've read, driving on unpaved roads is excluded in all most (if not all) rental contracts. Should I just go for it and hope for the best? I was planning on buying the LDW from the company but I've read that any violation of the rental agreement voids the LDW. Same thing with the coverage you get with AMEX or another credit card. Has anyone had experience with damage to a rental on a road to a trailhead and could share what happened? Are any companies better than the others in looking the way? I usually go with Enterprise.

Specifically, we are hoping the access the Gray's trailhead in mid-September.


This is about the worst road I have been on on a rental vehicle. Nothing happened to the car but it was a bit nerve wracking.

http://vimeo.com/69134113

Having a good spotter is key. Tire damage was very possible on this road. We drove slow and stopped and looked carefully whenever we saw something sketchy. (often on this road)

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Re: Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

Postby peter303 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:09 am

If you really want to get paranoid, GPS recorders have become so cheap, that they might put them in all but the cheapest car. I presume it would be their interest to disclose these, since it may make you a more careful driver.

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Re: Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

Postby Txhiker42 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:17 pm

MuchosPixels wrote:
This is about the worst road I have been on on a rental vehicle. Nothing happened to the car but it was a bit nerve wracking.

http://vimeo.com/69134113

Having a good spotter is key. Tire damage was very possible on this road. We drove slow and stopped and looked carefully whenever we saw something sketchy. (often on this road)


Pretty impressive. Don't think I would have even wanted to walk that one.

Speaking of walking, I don't have a problem with walking from the I70 parking lot, but how safe is it in the wee hours of the morning for three women? We are going on a weekday and hoping to start at 5:00 am. Not too sure there will be much traffic up there at that time to hitch a ride.

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Re: Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

Postby USAKeller » Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:19 pm

speth wrote:Drive it like you stole it.

Then return it.

Agreed - all rental cars are 4x4 cars!

In all seriousness, I've taken Enterprise rental sedan cars on unpaved roads many times. I'm just more cautious and take it a little slower off-road than normal. I haven't had any problems since I started renting 6 years ago, knock on wood. But I don't go taking them on roads like the Lake Como road either...
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Re: Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

Postby GBH64 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:51 pm

In contrast to the assumption in the original posting, it is my understanding that the prohibition in the rental car contract is against taking the vehicle OFF road. That would mean that gravel roads are OK, which only makes sense because Colorado has many "roads" - as indicated by state or county highway numbers, for example - which happen not to be paved. Many of these are quite benign, and hard to avoid. It's an important distinction.

Does anyone have any hard evidence that "unpaved road" use is prohibited?

I'm pretty sure I talked about this with a National Rental Car agent several years ago, and confirmed that only "off-raod" use was prohibited. In any case, you should not take my word for it, nor should you assume that unpaved roads are prohibited. Rather, talk to the rental agency and check out the wording of the actual contract.

-Ben

Re: Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

Postby Kirk Mallory » Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:24 pm

I've rented cars several times and driven them on dirt roads, because that's what you do when your trips are for hiking/climbing. I wasn't even aware of this policy, until I flew into Reno a few years ago for a Sierra trip, the same weekend as Burning Man. Every rental car company had big signs on their counters stating the policy about not driving on unpaved roads, and of large fees for cars returned excessively dirty. I wasn't about to change my plan - drove on plenty of dirt roads that trip (and many since then), but did make a point to wash it to hide the evidence. I am a little more careful now that I know about that policy, and try to minimize the amount of off-pavement driving I have to do. You have to drive dirt roads in rentals if you're a state highpointer, unless you want to drive your own car all over the country!

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Re: Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

Postby TravelingMatt » Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:31 pm

GBH64 wrote:Does anyone have any hard evidence that "unpaved road" use is prohibited?


Again, I'm not sure what they can do if they somehow catch you, other than cancel LDW if you bought it, or deny roadside assistance. (So you just use AAA or pay for it yourself. You know, just as if it were your own car.) No rental contract I've looked over has ever specified a penalty for doing so, and some don't even mention it. This includes the blanket contracts that apply to all future rentals when you sign up for frequent-renter programs.

I have seen Hertz's list of reasons for putting people on the Do-Not-Rent list. Going off paved roads is NOT on the list.
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Re: Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

Postby tlongpine » Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:20 pm

Don't tell them where you're going.
I am unable to walk away from the mountain without climbing it. An unclimbed mountain tugs at my consciousness with the eternal weight of time itself. Until I've pressed my face into it's alpine winds, hugged it's ancient granite walls, and put it's weathered summit beneath my heal I'm unable to resist it's attraction.Knowing nature gives the mountain more time than she gives us adds urgency to the obsession. As has been said before; the mountain doesn't care.

It can wait forever. I cannot.

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Re: Rental car "unpaved road" exclusions...what to do?

Postby jdorje » Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:44 am

crossfitter wrote:They managed to run over a lone fist-sized rock which kicked up, punctured their oil pan and they had to get an off-road tow plus be towed all the way back to Denver to the nearest dealership.


Unrelated to rentals, but when I've researched prepping your car for off-roading having an oil pan skid plate installed was the first thing they always list, due to its cheapness compared to the expense of a busted oil pan. Might be worth it for some 14er driving...
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