The United States is a vast nation, and getting around requires an automobile. When you don’t own a car of your own (or are separated from it), rental companies stand ready to meet your vehicular needs. If you intend to hook up a trailer and tow something, though, you’ll find the options available to you are much slimmer. Here’s why obtaining a rental vehicle with a trailer hitch is hard to do — and how you can get the job done anyway.
Why This Is A Challenge
A car rental company is a business like any other. Its first duty is to keep its operations profitable. To that end, most rental companies take a long, thorough look at the potential risks of any offering before they decide to add it to their rental fleet. The sad truth is that trailer hitches and towing packages rarely work out in the renters’ favor. The risks of damage, the overall wear on the vehicles, and the insurance liabilities involved quickly skyrocket.
Most nationwide rental companies do not offer cars and trucks with hitches. They go further and expressly forbid towing in their contract documents. While there are certain exceptions — Budget seems to rent more towing vehicles than any other national chain — they often add on absurdly expensive surcharges.
Going Very Big Or Very Small
One option to get a suitable rental vehicle is to work with a major moving company such as U-Haul or Ryder. With their commercial-oriented truck fleets, they are more capable of handling the increased liability involved in towing. The downside of this plan, of course, is that you’re stuck with a certain type of vehicle: a large, uncomfortable, gas-guzzling cargo truck.
You should investigate the option of working with smaller commercial rental companies in your area, especially if you’re making a two-way trip. These independent operators thrive by offering services the major chains have neglected, and this often includes vehicles with towing packages. This is likely to fall in the middle of the price range of your different options — more expensive than a cargo truck, but not as costly or nerve-wracking as renting from a chain.
The Crowdsource Option
There is a final alternative that may end up suiting your needs perfectly. Online services make it possible to engage in one-on-one rentals with private vehicle owners, many of whom offer trailer-friendly trucks. As with any peer-to-peer service, of course, you’ll find availability wildly variable if you go this route. You’ll also need to vet potential vehicle providers carefully and research the different arrangements you’ll need to protect both parties financially. (Most sensible renters will require a fairly hefty deposit when you take their vehicle.) Good places to start looking for a person-to-person rental include craigslist and Zilok.
Finding a rental car or truck that comes with the trailer hitch you’re looking for isn’t easy. It will require much more time and effort than renting an ordinary passenger vehicle. Tackling the problem with patience and flexibility will let you win through and get the rental you need, though.