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Flat Rental Car Tire - Miles from Rental Company - What to Do?

Flat Rental Car Tire - Miles from Rental Company - What to Do?

Old Jul 13, 18, 3:03 pm
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Flat Rental Car Tire - Miles from Rental Company - What to Do?

I'm not quite sure what the obligation of the rental car company is in a situation like this.

My wife rented a car, about 200 miles away from the rental car company she has a flat. She gets spare put on car (State Police called AAA for her). The spare is one of those no more than 50 miles per hour spares.

Rental car company says they have an office 1.5 hours away from where she is, so she should drive there and they will give her a new car. She doesn't have the 3 hours to spare.

I can understand why the rental car company would not want to pay for her to get a new tire - but, it seems that the policy puts the customer in an untenable position.

She is going to pay out of pocket for a new tire so she can continue on. Does she just have to eat the cost?
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Old Jul 13, 18, 3:09 pm
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Or just pay to repair the tire?
Does it need a new tire?
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Old Jul 13, 18, 3:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
Or just pay to repair the tire?
Does it need a new tire?
She was told it's not repairable by two different shops.
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Old Jul 13, 18, 3:15 pm
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Originally Posted by BigFlyer View Post
She was told it's not repairable by two different shops.
She can *try* to claim the cost of the replacement tire as an "on the road expense" (those are the magic words) when she returns the vehicle, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Make sure that she gets an identical replacement tire, and that she keeps the bad tire to return to the rental-car company.
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Old Jul 13, 18, 6:30 pm
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It sounds as though she needs to be more proactive. Of course the rental car place wants her to drive back. Of course she doesn't want to. She should simply insist that she can't and then ask what the solution is. She can certainly offer that the tire can be replaced for $X locally.

It goes without saying that safety comes first, so if she must, she should have the tire replaced and make sure to keep the damaged one.

She can then fight about this on her return or simply make a claim against her travel insurance. If it is a business trip, most employers would rather reimburse that expense than lose that much of an employee's time and the utility of whatever it is that she is doing.
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Old Jul 13, 18, 6:36 pm
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Turns out if you google around and read the rental contract, the CDW, and the credit card insurance details - the rental car companies don't treat a blown tire as a mechanical problem, but instead it as damage to the car and try to recover the expense from the customer!

And...it is not covered generally by the rental car company CDW or the credit card CDW insurance.
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Old Jul 13, 18, 6:40 pm
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I wondered about this. Cause rental car agencies sell "premium roadside assistance".
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Old Jul 13, 18, 10:39 pm
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Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
Make sure that she gets an identical replacement tire, and that she keeps the bad tire to return to the rental-car company.
Very important, if she plans to ask for reimbursement.
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Old Jul 14, 18, 6:31 am
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If she purchased the roadside assistance option then they would cover the cost of a tow. If not, she's basically on her own. Options are:

1. Return to the renting location
2. Purchase a new tire (ideally an identical one as @guv1976 points out to avoid issues)
3. Get a cheap used tire that can last her through the rental period. The rental company will charge her for a new tire upon return, but then again, they may not even notice.

Last edited by AutoSlash; Jul 15, 18 at 7:42 am
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Old Jul 14, 18, 1:11 pm
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The thing that is odd about this, is that the treatment by the rental car companies is counter-intuitive.

I assumed that a blown tire is treated like a mechanical problem - it is a functional part of the car related to driving, and, is normally replaced based on wear and tear.

Instead, they treat it as a body problem - like a dented door. Seems to me if they are going to charge for the new tire they should give a credit based on the useful life of the old tire. Doesn't make sense that the customer would pay the cost of a new tire when the old one is already half way through its useful life.
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Old Jul 14, 18, 3:44 pm
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Originally Posted by BigFlyer View Post
Turns out if you google around and read the rental contract, the CDW, and the credit card insurance details - the rental car companies don't treat a blown tire as a mechanical problem, but instead it as damage to the car and try to recover the expense from the customer!
That would have been a good place to start. Avis/Hertz/National... they've treated it that way for thirty years as best I can remember. If you don't want to pay don't play the game.
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Old Jul 15, 18, 1:08 am
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You could try contacting a local news station, this is the sort of thing local TV channels love to cover. That would get their attention.
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Old Jul 15, 18, 7:45 am
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Originally Posted by m907 View Post
You could try contacting a local news station, this is the sort of thing local TV channels love to cover. That would get their attention.
Not sure why the local news would be interested in a blown tire situation? As the OP points out, a blown tire is the renter's responsibility to deal with. While you may not agree with the rental company's position, everything that happened here is according to the terms and conditions of the rental contract that the renter signed.
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Old Jul 15, 18, 8:08 am
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Originally Posted by BigFlyer View Post
The thing that is odd about this, is that the treatment by the rental car companies is counter-intuitive.

I assumed that a blown tire is treated like a mechanical problem - it is a functional part of the car related to driving, and, is normally replaced based on wear and tear.

Instead, they treat it as a body problem - like a dented door. Seems to me if they are going to charge for the new tire they should give a credit based on the useful life of the old tire. Doesn't make sense that the customer would pay the cost of a new tire when the old one is already half way through its useful life.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but there are a few things to consider:

First off, think of 4 renters:
  • Renter A drives off the rental lot (unknowingly) on a tire that has a slow leak which eventually results in a flat tire
  • Renter B drives off the rental lot with a perfectly good tire and picks up a nail on the interstate which results in a flat tire
  • Renter C drives off the rental lot with a perfectly good tire and hits a pothole in the dark which results in a blowout
  • Renter D drives off the rental lot with a perfectly good tire and gets frustrated in traffic and drives on the shoulder of the road where a lot of debris collects and runs over a piece of metal that damages the tire
In each of the scenarios above, it could be debated whether some/none/all of the fault rests with the renter. The thing is though that the rental company has no idea what happened under what circumstances to cause the flat. In terms of who's at fault, it's essentially your word against theirs. If you make a compelling case, they may be willing to waive the fee for a new tire, swap the car for free, etc., but the fact remains that according to the rental contract the renter signs, any tire damage is the responsibility of the renter. Again, you may feel that sucks, but it's in the contract you have to agree to in order to check out the vehicle.

As for having to pay the entire cost of the of a new tire when there may already been some level of tread used up, it may seem unfair, but if the tire is not repairable, the rental company will have to purchase a brand new one. It's not like they can purchase half a tire. You could make the case that the rental company is getting a brand new tire and thus would not have to replace it as soon, but this is somewhat misguided as it's unlikely that they will replace 3 tires in month 4 and then wait another 2 months to replace the newer tire because it had more tread. The maintenance schedules don't really work this way. Additionally, there's a decent change the rental company would have sold or auctioned off the car before any of the tires even needed replacing, so in effect, they'd still be out the cost of one new tire.
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Old Jul 15, 18, 4:56 pm
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Another scenario, which if I recall correctly, was common several years ago on old, very high mileage Hertz cars and U-Haul ancient one-way trucks- the tires were given bald, and coincidentally blew out with the current customer. In that case, keeping the original tire to give back to the rental company would show if indeed the car maintenance was negligent and consequently should not be charged to the renter.
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