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Rental cars for western travel

MommaBear

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Hi all - hoping to tap the wisdom of those who travel west to ski. We are headed to Mount Bachelor in a few weeks and trying to find a rental vehicle for the 4 of us (plus a possible 5th). No sites I've looked at indicate whether vehicles are 4 wheel/all wheel or if ski racks are available. Do I need to make some phone calls? Or is there an easier way to find something to get us around for a week?
Thanks in advance.
 

BenedictGomez

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Good luck with that. I've experienced this dilemma each time I've tried to rent out west, and you have a better chance learning the codes to open the nuclear football than you will getting a 100% "yes" or "no" on 4WD on a blind SUV rental. The good news is, apparently, most SUVs in the major's fleets are in fact either AWD or 4WD, but in order to guarantee that I imagine calling direct is your only hope.


EDIT: If you are 100% committed to 4WD, however, do so in advance. I was at the rental counter in SLC a few years ago getting a sedan, and a storm was coming in, so they skyrocketed the cost of rentals of the 4WD/AWD vehicles. And I do mean skyrocket. As in well over $1,000 increase for a week over what the same vehicle was going for just the day or two before.
 
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dlague

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Try to get a 4wd, since many places will require chains with 2wd if it snows. I was able to rent an SUV when I visited Colorado on vacation.

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MommaBear

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If you are 100% committed to 4WD, however, do so in advance. I was at the rental counter in SLC a few years ago getting a sedan, and a storm was coming in, so they skyrocketed the cost of rentals of the 4WD/AWD vehicles. And I do mean skyrocket. As in well over $1,000 increase for a week over what the same vehicle was going for just the day or two before.

:-o

I appreciate the help from all, thanks! Guess I'll be making some phone calls early this week (with the understanding there will be no guarantee).
 

Edd

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Anyone used Turo?

A co-worker just used it last week for an SLC trip. It was 3 younger guys so I suspect they went cheap. He said the car smelled and was generally dirty.

I almost always reserve a 4WD out west and I’ve never failed to get it. But I’ve also received no guarantees beforehand.

I recommend Autoslash.com for a good deal. It’s a little weird because they get back to you with a quote but it worked out well for me and others I know.
 

HowieT2

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I researched this for my trip to bc because we have 3 hour drive from Spokane. The suvs r awd. They generally don’t have ski racks to offer nor do they have snow tires.
 

machski

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The best bet for being more likely than not to have 4WD/AWD is to rent a regular or full size SUV and skip the smaller ones. Most of the small SUV's tend to be FWD only if that is an option on that particular model. When I have had ford explorers, Chevy Tahoes, etc, they have always been AWD/4WD but when I have gone smaller (Ford Escape comes to mind) it has been FWD. Bachelor this time of year you need AWD/4WD as that is required on the highway to the mountain from Bend (or snow tires/chains which you will not get in the US from rentals). Been out there when it snows, they only grit the roads, no salt used. I had an Escape on 1 trip and I could feel it sliding (and that was in April).

Good luck!

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benski

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I researched this for my trip to bc because we have 3 hour drive from Spokane. The suvs r awd. They generally don’t have ski racks to offer nor do they have snow tires.

Denver and SLC have much more traffic going ski areas. And a few of them really demand snow tires. I would suspect it’s much easier to make money off offering snow tires and ski racks in those cities.
 

bushpilot

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With the added cost of an SUV with 4WD you might be better off getting a sedan and getting chains from Les Schwab tires. Keep the receipt and if you don't use them you can return them. The $75 cost will be less than the added cost of guaranteeing a 4WD SUV. Also, the drive up Century Road is not too difficult. Bachelor also has a ski bus that leaves from Bend. It's an awesome mountain if you've never been. When are you planning on being there?
 

jimk

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With the added cost of an SUV with 4WD you might be better off getting a sedan and getting chains from Les Schwab tires. Keep the receipt and if you don't use them you can return them. The $75 cost will be less than the added cost of guaranteeing a 4WD SUV. Also, the drive up Century Road is not too difficult. Bachelor also has a ski bus that leaves from Bend. It's an awesome mountain if you've never been. When are you planning on being there?

This.

Try for good deal on 4 wd, but don't fear if not available, work rental agency for better deal on whatever they eventually do give you for vehicle. Mt. B is surrounded by high desert and not especially treacherous winter driving, unlike Tahoe which can range from drought/no-problem to six foot dumps and mandatory chains/4wd.

Six years ago I flew into SFX for a two week ski trip. Went up to Mt. Bachelor for three ski days, Then a few days in N. Lake Tahoe, then sightseeing in San Fran for a few days, then 5 days at Kirkwood/S-A-T/Heavenly. I had reserved a good two week rate of something like $550 total for a small 4wd SUV at SFX, but none available when I got there because storm in Tahoe pushed up demand. After 30 minutes of consternation, I took a minivan for same price. Rental guy suggested I buy $60 chains and just put them on if needed. I had a group of four, so minivan was actually very functional for us and our gear. I needed the chains exactly one day while driving to S-A-T for an outstanding powder day, then at end of trip I threw them away at motel dumpster. Best $60 insurance policy I ever bought
 

MommaBear

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With the added cost of an SUV with 4WD you might be better off getting a sedan and getting chains from Les Schwab tires. Keep the receipt and if you don't use them you can return them. The $75 cost will be less than the added cost of guaranteeing a 4WD SUV. Also, the drive up Century Road is not too difficult. Bachelor also has a ski bus that leaves from Bend. It's an awesome mountain if you've never been. When are you planning on being there?

We will be there 2/20 to 2/27. My son moved out to Bend and works the mountain during the winter (then up to High Cascades camp at Mount Hood for the summer as the media guy). This will be our first time to Mt Bachelor. He's warned us that the roads aren't maintained the way they are in the East (someone above mentioned the cinder vs salt) and there have been a couple of nasty days (one especially over MLK weekend). We are doing an Airbnb closer to the mountain so not sure the bus from Bend would work, but thank you for that suggestion. My son uses it to get to and from work most days - didn't think about US using it!
 

jg17

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I think you just need to get lucky, unless you rent a larger SUV class where any possible vehicle has 4WD. As previously mentioned, no guarantee of AWD on even the smaller SUVs/crossovers.

I got lucky (definitely a bunch of dumb luck) today on my drive JAC-SLC. Originally booked a standard sedan (probably a bad idea to begin with), and asked at pickup if they had anything AWD. Turned out they needed to get a Suburban down to SLC for tomorrow morning so they were able to send me with that.
 
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