CAR RENTAL If you are insane enough to spend the money on renting a car in New York City, then you ought to keep it parked in a garage so as to avoid any damage or other charges. It's best to rent a car from nearby Hoboken, Jersey City, or Newark—all in New Jersey and connected by PATH train to New York City—where rates are far lower and rental terms more attractive. Best of all, try to time your holiday so that you do not have the car while staying in Manhattan: you will find the car a tremendous nuisance (parking, traffic, etc.) and waste of money.
PARKING If you are driving to New York City, make sure you check our extensive Parking tips about free side-street parking. Beware of parking regulations, which vary from street to street! Even if there is no sign posted where you park your car, a sign way at the other end of the street can apply to your vehicle. Do check carefully before you leave your car, because on some major avenues and streets you must pay for parking even on Saturdays, starting as early as 8 or 9 a.m.! (Fortunately, free Sunday parking was restored in November 2005.) And take note: just because you have out-of-state license plates does not mean you do not have to pay parking tickets. New York City agressively pursues scofflaw collections on out-of-state vehicles. If you accrue more than $350 in tickets—which can be as few as three violations—your car can be towed by the NYPD, sheriff or marshal. Even in a rental car with out-of-state license plates, you will have to pay for that ticket: rental car agencies will charge your credit card a huge fee to process and pay for the ticket(s) if you do not!
Some New Jersey and Upstate New York natives prefer to park in places such as Hoboken or Jersey City, the Bronx, Queens or Brooklyn, where there are fewer parking regulations and less parking meters than in Manhattan. By parking near the subway, PATH or Metro-North stations, you can easily take the train to Manhattan. Jerseyites know that the PATH train from Newark, Jersey City and Hoboken, especially on weekdays, can make good sense as its reliable, very cheap, and efficient.
SOME TIPS Turning right on red in New York City is always illegal, except where posted signs specifically allow it. Also try to make good use of the bridges linking Manhattan with the outside world rather than the expensive toll tunnels. And if you do have the car, try to visit out-of-the way tourist attractions, such as the Cloisters (pay as you wish), the New York Botanical Garden or Gateway National Recreation Area.
Finally, if you are unfortunate enough to have an accident, note that it is a crime to drive away from the scene before the police arrive. Insist on a written accident report from the police, and do note the officers' names, badge numbers, and police precinct address and telephone number for insurance purposes. Do not assume the police will file the report without your specifically insisting.