Q: My friend and I are going to Maui in September. We need to rent a car but currently the price averages $1,200 per week for a compact! Do you see prices coming down as we get closer to September? Or should we book now?
A: Here’s why prices are extremely high. When pandemic lockdowns went into effect, business travel dried up and rental revenues plunged. So several companies sold off a large portion of their rental fleets. Then as new-car sales tumbled, the used-car market turned red hot, meaning that rental companies selling off their vehicles could earn a premium on those sales.
With demand still low, rental firms slashed orders for replacement vehicles, and their fleets are still not back to levels travelers were used to prior to COVID-19. It may be a while before they are.
Book your reservation now, but first get the rental company to guarantee that a car will be available when you land in Maui. Hope prices fall and if they do, book a new reservation then — if you can.
Q: I have a 2013 model year car, and and it will be due for its first smog check when I renew its registration this year. However, I’m going to be driving it out of state for a couple months right when the registration will be due.
Can I get the smog check done before I leave, even if I haven’t yet received the renewal notice in the mail? If so, how long before the registration renewal date am I allowed to get the smog check?
A: You may obtain smog certification up to 90 days before paying the renewal fees, which can be done 60 days in advance of the registration expiration date. More information about smog certification is on the DMV website: www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/vehicle-registration/smog-inspections/
Q: I have never needed FasTrak. But we’re going to be traveling from Concord to Santa Cruz on Sunday with three in my car, and I thought, with all the returning weekend traffic, that I should look into it. But now, I’m more confused than ever.
You said I “must have FasTrak to use the express lanes,” but then said “FasTrak lanes operate from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays.” So what happens on weekends? Are there no express lanes on Sunday when we’ll be traveling, i.e., all the lanes are open to everyone?
Allan Dyson, Santa Cruz
A: Yes. FasTrak lanes are open to everyone on weekends.
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