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Renters who don't fill up on gas quite all the way to F...

Renters who don't fill up on gas quite all the way to F...

Old Dec 22, 17, 3:44 pm
  #16  
 
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Doesn't really matter.

As part of prepping a car for a new rental, it ought to be topped up. Whether that is because the last renter did not fill the tank or only partially filled it is irrelevant. Before the car goes back out, someone fills the tank.
What is this "topped up" you are referring?

It is my understanding that while a common practice it is not wise to fill a tank after the nozzle "clicks" indicating it is full. If the gauge reads "FULL" then there is an end to things.

Again some of you seem to feel there is some sort of natural right for rented vehicles to have a "grace period" of free gas for you to drive off; this simply is not true.

Back when gas was reaching or above $5/gallon (and conveniently National was low on compact/fuel efficient vehicles but loaded with SUVs and other gas guzzlers), there was no way was going to "give away " gas to National and or next renter. I did my job; brought the vehicle back with gauge reading same as when it left. If one had to use various tricks such as coasting or whatever to minimize fuel use after refilling, so be it.
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Old Dec 22, 17, 3:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Auto Enthusiast View Post
Great point. Let's assume I pick up a car with half a tank, and later need to refuel. But, the car is not due back for several days. I buy a full tank, expecting to use another half. Return time comes and my prediction was right. No need to visit the nearest gas station, and hence no receipt within 5 miles.
Check your receipts! Refilled gas, yet charged for fuel!
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Old Dec 24, 17, 9:33 am
  #18  
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Originally Posted by ginmqi View Post
Sounds like a nice way to find yourself out of a job. (of course I'll defer to those who have managerial experience with rental car companies....as I don't reasonably see how employees can take the car for other uses other than within their job description)

I presume most rental locations have the parking/storage area close enough to the cleaning area/customer lots that it won't have any negligible gas use if driven withing normal employee duties/distances. Not sure how an employee can take it for a joy ride to cause significant change in gasoline levels.

At the HNL location (the 430), the return lot is right next to the cleaning stations which is right next to the parking garage that houses the cars/customer lots. At the ITO location (the Wrangler), it's such a small airport that the SAME parking lot is used for storage/customer pickup and customer return.
Originally Posted by IAHtraveler View Post
I've spoken to a few shift managers (not just Avis) who said they're allowed to take a car home. Not sure if that's an official perk or a regional manager allowing it. Or they could be sitting in it to keep warm in it (seen this a lot by return agents in cold weather during slower periods). Or moving employees for off-site cleanings/etc. Usually done with a mini/passenger van but not always.
Managers get a company car. Non-management employees do not get that perk, and being caught driving a vehicle off-premises without a valid business use is grounds for termination. (And yes, I've had to fire people who have done that.)

Manager cars work differently with each company. For some, they get a car assigned to them for a week and then trade it out each week. Others simply choose something left over on the lot at the end of the day. Usually, they are restricted to the normal car classes and aren't allowed to take vans/SUVs or the various higher-level collection cars. There is a process for checking the car back in, and the car does get serviced and (if necessary) refueled, just as a customer return would be. The cars often come back a good bit below full because gas is typically included with this perk.

Business uses for detailers (and other front-end staff, like return agents, counter sales agents, etc., who might help fill in) driving cars around are limited to:
  • Customer pick-ups/drop-offs
  • Shuttling vehicles between locations
  • Taking cars to/from the dealer or body shop for repair
  • Transporting employees between locations (typically there is a dedicated "shuttle van" for this, but depending on the operation, a rental fleet vehicle may be used)
Generally, the distances driven are not enough to materially affect the fuel level in the car. Some that use a gallon or more may slip through without being refueled before rental, but it's a very small number compared to the number of vehicles rented in any given day (like a couple of percent at most). The vast majority of vehicles rented out short of a full tank are due to the previous customer not returning it completely full (but full enough to not get noticed and the car pulled for refueling).

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Doesn't really matter.

As part of prepping a car for a new rental, it ought to be topped up. Whether that is because the last renter did not fill the tank or only partially filled it is irrelevant. Before the car goes back out, someone fills the tank.
It generally is, at least at airport locations or other locations with on-site fuel pumps. Some locations even push this further: a friend of mine managed Avis in SFO and they had fuel pumps collocated with the vacuums. Every car got refueled while it was being vacuumed, whether or not it appeared to need it. In most other places, the fuel pumps are in a separate area, and a vehicle is only taken there if the detailer pulling it around notices that the gauge is low. You can see how it sometimes gets missed--there's a human element there, and it's easily not noticed, especially when they're under the wire to work quickly and get cars turned ASAP for an empty lot with waiting customers. A well-trained crew with good oversight, though, should not regularly forget to notice the fuel gauge.

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
First, this thread is a criticism of consumers who do not top off the tank to Full. My point is simply that ---- appropriate or not ---- that should not affect the next consumer.
Second, the rental company would be free to charge its local outrageous price + a fee which is far from a money-loser. Someone who returns a vehicle with 0.5 gallons to top off, would be charged the 0.5 gallons at whatever the rate is + a fee, often in the $10 range.

Finally, if you find that your vehicle was not full because it drops to 7/8 or 3/4 or whatever, in just a few miles, make a point of complaining at return or sending a note to the rental company. Many locations simply credit some amount on the spot and others will eventually get around to it.
The operation I worked for had a policy that if the tank took less than one gallon, the customer was not billed. The rule was that the vehicle needed to be filled up within 10 miles of return (side note: annoyingly, several Hertz locations have recently told me the new standard is 5 miles). 10 miles can easily be half a gallon, depending on driving style. Combine that with idling time, customers not topping off, the vehicle being driven around the rental lot before being serviced, etc., and anything less than a gallon and you really can't fault the previous customer. Plus, the relatively small charge would not cover either the costs of processing and sending the invoice or receipt to the customer nor the customer service badwill that results from disputes about such matters. And TBH, when I've gotten in a car that I can tell is not quite full and have stopped to fill it up, it always takes at least 2-3 gallons, and often more, so being one gallon short is not what we're talking about here.

My preferred defense against being shorted gas is: if the needle isn't clearly well over the F mark as it should be, I stop at the first gas station I see and fill up. I then take a photo of the receipt sitting next to the odometer. Upon return at the rental office, I show that photo (and also have the receipt, if they need it) and ask for that amount to be deducted from my bill. They are always understanding and apologetic.

Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
What are you on about?

Deal mainly with National or Enterprise and they require one to return vehicle with same amount of gas as when taken out. If you return with less then either you'll be charged or not (if signed up for refuel option).

In any event a vehicle that is to be returned on "Full" (F) means just that. For my purposes and one assumes a great many others this means just that; needle or whatever reading *FULL*. If it goes a bit beyond that so much the better, but that is *NOT* any sort of mandatory condition for return.
Incorrect. If the rental company rents you a vehicle that is marked to be full, the tank should actually be full, irrespective of what the needle says, and your obligation is also to return it actually full. A full tank means the tank is full: an 18.5-gallon tank should have 18.5 gallons of gas in it, or at least some amount between about 17.5 and 18.5 gallons.

Claiming otherwise simply contributes to the problem brought up by the OP.

Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
Yes, many times have taken out a vehicle and barely gotten two blocks before needle or whatever moved off "F". So what of it? I check the gauge before heading out to make sure it agrees with what is written/entered on the receipt. If when vehicle is turned on and the needle moves off "F", that is a different matter.

When returning vehicle to Manhattan, NYC for instance nearly always fill up in New Jersey or at least outside of the city. Gas is cheaper and more easily found (gas stations are closing at a rapid clip here, as properties are sold for redevelopment into luxury housing).

For most mid-size vehicles and a good number of SUVs can get from say South New Jersey into Manhattan, park, and next day take the thing back to National and the gas gauge still reads at "F" or maybe slightly over. It is not part of my rental agreement to provide National nor the next driver with *free gas* to drive off.
Then the vehicle was not filled up before returning, and you should be credited. Take a photo showing the fuel gauge and the odometer and ask for a credit when you return.

It is quite easy to fill up in NJ at the cheap stations near the entrance of the Holland Tunnel or a short detour off NJ-495 or I-95 and still make it to the rental office within the respective 10- (or even 5-) mile limit. This should not contribute greatly to the amount of fuel used unless perhaps you are trying to drive the entire length and width of Manhattan in peak-of-peak rush hour.

When you return "over the F," you are not giving the next driver free gas. You are returning the car exactly as it should have been given to you. If you do not return it actually full, then you are stealing gas from the next customer. If it wasn't given to you that way, then you should get a credit.

Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
On an unrelated note have given up counting how many times National or Enterprise have given me vehicles with less than a full tank (Enterprise here is famous for giving out things that are often 1/3 or 1/4 full) with the implied request to bring it back full. Yes, they say "bring it back with same amount you left with". But also is added "we will credit you for the fuel if you bring it back with more...". It isn't easy to get a vehicle filled to just 1/8, 1/4, 7/8, etc... but if the rental place isn't going to credit me back my cost of gas, will do my best to bring it back as found.

On another unrelated topic National, Enterprise and the rest nearly always charge customers a refueling surcharge either for not bringing vehicle back with proper amount of gas, or customer paid for the refueling option. However it does *NOT* always follow the vehicle will be taken and topped up.

Asked both Enterprise and National managers/counter reps about this and their answer was clear; they don't always have the staff to drive a vehicle to local gas station, so they just send it back out "as is".

Aside from maybe some airport locations not every car rental office has access to a gas pump. Nor are many always located near where one can find gas either. Meanwhile they've charged one customer for a service that was not provided. Unless the next customer does refill and receives credit for excess gas, car rental place has made *free money*. Multiply this over an entire system and or calendar year and you've got some serious money.
It sounds like you're basing your arguments and experience on renting cars in NYC. Realize that off-airport rentals are a small fraction of total rentals. The OP here was almost certainly referring to renting on-airport, which accounts for the vast majority of all total rental volume in the United States.

Off-airport locations usually do not have on-site refueling options (it's the rare one that does), hence the "bring it back at the same level" rule. One of the most annoying things about Enterprise is that they follow that rule even when the tank is practically empty. I believe corporate policy is they're not supposed to do that if the fuel is below a certain level (half, maybe?) but that rule gets ignored when time and staff are tight (which, with Enterprise, is par for the course).

Conversely, all but the smallest airports have on-site fueling stations and all vehicles should go out full.

You are correct that just because a customer is charged a refueling fee does not mean the car is actually filled up. In theory, it works out: if the car starts its life full when it's brand new, and the next renter returns it 1/4 tank short and is charged for 1/4 tank and the following renter returns it another 1/8 short and is charged for 1/8 tank, and then a third renter returns it yet another 1/4 tank short (so now on 3/8), then the car is taken to a fueling station and 5/8 worth of a tank of gas is added to the car, equaling exactly what those three customers paid for in total. In practice, with people bringing the car back with more gas than they got and not getting credited, they do make a little money off of this. With Enterprise, though, it's not a significant contributor to their bottom line since they don't charge a huge premium over pump price (whereas most other companies charge well more than double or even triple).

Originally Posted by Brighton Line View Post
Don't some agreements require that if you turned down all the fuel options that you return the car at the same fuel gauge reading but you have a receipt from a gas station in "X" miles of the rental location?
Then how can you fill up in NJ and return to NY?

Of course I've only been asked for a receipt once and that was for a one day rental of 6 miles (3am arrival and all cabs had left, pre-uber).
Off-airport locations that practice the "return at the same level you get it at" typically do not ask for a receipt. Receipts are only asked for at locations where the tank is expected to be returned full. That has 100% matched my personal experience as well.

Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
What is this "topped up" you are referring?

It is my understanding that while a common practice it is not wise to fill a tank after the nozzle "clicks" indicating it is full. If the gauge reads "FULL" then there is an end to things.
"Topped up" or "topped off" can colloquially mean "filled up" as well as "filling the tank beyond the nozzle automatically clicking off." I suspect Often1 meant the former.

Regarding topping off: I typically "top off" rental cars to the second click. The first click often happens if the nozzle is finicky (I've even had it click off after only putting 1 gallon in an obviously-empty tank...surely you would not then argue that that car is full!). Too many times I let it stop at the first click and got in and drove away only to see the tank was only 3/4 or 7/8 full. The second click won't hurt anything; what does potentially cause damage is repeatedly filling the tank above its normal capacity as it tends to make fuel get into the charcoal canister or carbon filter, impairing performance.
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Old Dec 24, 17, 1:41 pm
  #19  
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I rented at an HLE before and the car only had 50% fuel. I filled it up completely before returning the car to be on the safe side and had no issues.

Other than that, every car that I can remember that I've rented from airports had full tanks.
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Old Dec 24, 17, 6:03 pm
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Well being as all this may just picked up my Christmas ride and it is only 7/8ths full. Will see how one feels about topping up on way back home. *LOL*
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Old Dec 25, 17, 8:57 am
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On many newer cars, Avis is using tools that automatically report fuel quantity remotely from the car. It doesn't work perfectly yet, but it is progress.

Thankfully, on those rare occasions where I get a less than full tank upon start of rental as long as it was properly marked on the agreement, if I bring it back full, I have automatically received a credit for that extra gas without asking.

Rasheed
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Old Dec 25, 17, 12:21 pm
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If you're really unhappy with the tank not being full, you could immediately fill the tank at a station close to the rental car office as soon as you pick up the car. If you can put in 2.5 gallons, then you can complain.

I have experienced a less than full tank but that is not that common. Fortunately, not everyone is a cheapskate and fraudster.

Renting a car from midtown Manhattan is a different story. There are no gas stations in Manhattan below Harlem. At least none that I know of. The Mobil station on the west side closed long time ago.
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Old Dec 25, 17, 4:02 pm
  #23  
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Originally Posted by rasheed View Post
On many newer cars, Avis is using tools that automatically report fuel quantity remotely from the car. It doesn't work perfectly yet, but it is progress.

Thankfully, on those rare occasions where I get a less than full tank upon start of rental as long as it was properly marked on the agreement, if I bring it back full, I have automatically received a credit for that extra gas without asking.

Rasheed
IME, that is how Avis/Budget's computer system is programmed.

Hertz/Dollar/Thrifty's and Enterprise/Alamo/National's systems are not programmed to do that.
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Old Dec 25, 17, 11:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Toshbaf View Post
If you're really unhappy with the tank not being full, you could immediately fill the tank at a station close to the rental car office as soon as you pick up the car. If you can put in 2.5 gallons, then you can complain.

I have experienced a less than full tank but that is not that common. Fortunately, not everyone is a cheapskate and fraudster.

Renting a car from midtown Manhattan is a different story. There are no gas stations in Manhattan below Harlem. At least none that I know of. The Mobil station on the west side closed long time ago.
There are several gas stations left below 125th Street, if you know where to look.

Shell, 1855 1st Avenue at 96th

Shell, 1599 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10029

BP, FDR Drive & E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010

Mobil, 718 11th Ave, New York
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Old Dec 26, 17, 6:39 am
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Redundant

Last edited by cestmoi123; Dec 26, 17 at 6:40 am Reason: deleted redundant post
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Old Dec 26, 17, 11:44 am
  #26  
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Originally Posted by BugsyPal View Post
What are you on about?
My OP was quite clear and a later poster who actually works/worked in a rental car location in a managerial position answered and discussed MANY good details/insights.

Originally Posted by rasheed View Post
On many newer cars, Avis is using tools that automatically report fuel quantity remotely from the car. It doesn't work perfectly yet, but it is progress.

Thankfully, on those rare occasions where I get a less than full tank upon start of rental as long as it was properly marked on the agreement, if I bring it back full, I have automatically received a credit for that extra gas without asking.

Rasheed
Very interesting.

Originally Posted by Toshbaf View Post
If you're really unhappy with the tank not being full, you could immediately fill the tank at a station close to the rental car office as soon as you pick up the car. If you can put in 2.5 gallons, then you can complain.

I have experienced a less than full tank but that is not that common. Fortunately, not everyone is a cheapskate and fraudster.

Renting a car from midtown Manhattan is a different story. There are no gas stations in Manhattan below Harlem. At least none that I know of. The Mobil station on the west side closed long time ago.
Very good point. I should've done this.

I had another rental out of OGG this past Christmas weekend, and the gas gauge needle was just a tad bit below F. I should've stopped at the first gas station, took a photo and get the gas receipt for reimbursement.

I'll need to be MUCH more strict/careful about this.

Originally Posted by jackal View Post
My preferred defense against being shorted gas is: if the needle isn't clearly well over the F mark as it should be, I stop at the first gas station I see and fill up. I then take a photo of the receipt sitting next to the odometer. Upon return at the rental office, I show that photo (and also have the receipt, if they need it) and ask for that amount to be deducted from my bill. They are always understanding and apologetic.
jackal, I just want to say thank you for taking your time to provide true insight from someone who has actually worked in this industry and giving very helpful and interesting tidbits. I won't quote your entire post for the sake of computer screen real estate.

I will take this to heart and be VERY diligent about checking the gas gauge when I take out a car next time (which will be very soon again!). I don't know why I didn't think of this strategy but you're right...if I suspect being shorted on gas I will need to stop by the 1st station and get filled up and take photo/document the receipt/mileage/gallons spent.

I just rented a Maxima out of OGG this past weekend that I think had similar issues, but somehow that didn't occur to me at the time to use that strategy. Will keep this in mind most definitely.

I'm National EE but my personality has always been a bit more meek/deferring/not stirring trouble, but from now on I'll need to be much more careful about the gas issue since I've had at least 2 times now in the past 2 months this has happened. Could be that I'm renting alot out of the various Hawaiian islands and gasoline is definitely not the cheapest thing you can buy here, unlike pineapple. The lone gas station on the east side of Maui, in Hana, charges about $5/gallon. The Costco gas station in Kahului is nearly always full of long long lines....I can see how some renters may be in rush for a flight and just decide to return the car instead of waiting potentially 15+min to get into a pump

Thanks again. Cheers ^
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Last edited by ginmqi; Dec 26, 17 at 11:54 am
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Old Dec 27, 17, 7:09 am
  #27  
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this is largely a gray area IMO. Full is full. What's the difference? Maybe 1 gal max? Got cars that were barely full and probably returned some where I filled gas 10 miles outside the airport and did not bother filling 0.2 gal again ... it all averages out IMO.
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Old Dec 27, 17, 9:54 am
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I usually refill until the point I picked up the car, but a significant factor that's not being consideredis that many gas nozzles with vapor recovery do not let you fill the tank that much.
Usually the first shutoff (when you are supposed to stop filling) will occur will a gallon still possible in many cars.
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Old Dec 27, 17, 2:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Toshbaf View Post
If you're really unhappy with the tank not being full, you could immediately fill the tank at a station close to the rental car office as soon as you pick up the car. If you can put in 2.5 gallons, then you can complain.

I have experienced a less than full tank but that is not that common. Fortunately, not everyone is a cheapskate and fraudster.

Renting a car from midtown Manhattan is a different story. There are no gas stations in Manhattan below Harlem. At least none that I know of. The Mobil station on the west side closed long time ago.
Personally, I do not get that worked up over the issue. However, I do get worked up when I get a half tank of gas and the counter agent puts FULL on the contract. When that happens, I top off the tank at the nearest location (which happens to be the cheapest) and turn in the receipt at check-in. That demonstrates that the tank was not full. Since I deal with the same Hertz LE, I do NOT get any flack, especially since most of my rentals are $995-120/ week including taxes.

As for the Enterprise system, it is a rip off. It is difficult to make sure that you are not overfilling on the last fill-up of the trip.
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Old Dec 27, 17, 2:21 pm
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I don't remember the last time I put gas in a rental car before returning it. Sometimes, if it was a short trip, i don't get hit with a gas charge. The needle says "full" (or close enough) and the rental car agent calls it full. Sometimes I've driven the car for a day or two and I get hit for half a tank, maybe more. Well, I used it, why not pay for it? Yeah, it would be less expensive if I found a gas station and filled it myself. Guess what? Most gas stations near airports have higher prices for the gas at the pumps. Especially if it's right off the freeway at the exit just before the airport.

I used to be religious about filling up before returning the rental car - but then I had to find the right gas station. And if I didn't know my way around, I could easily see stopping late at night in a bad section of town. So, screw it, I return it as it - and pay the higher cost per gallon. 99.9998% of the time it's a business rental and I don't get too worked up about it. The times that it's a personal rental and I might be paying a bit more for gas? Convenience.
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