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Car rental horror stories

Car rental horror stories

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Old Jun 3, 11, 10:20 am
  #46  
 
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In FLA with kids, visiting parents. Time to go home. Dad explains a cool way to get to TPA using back roads. Avoid US 19, hardly any traffic.

On a back road through a steaming Florida swamp the engine drops to an idle. Gas pedal flops loose. This was before cell phones. No development near by. No pay phone. Hardly any traffic. Oh Crap!

Being a guy even though not a mechanic I had to look under the hood. Throttle cable had broken. Now what? Using nail clippers as pliers I stripped the broken ends, bent a hook and tied them together with a twist-tie from a bag of snacks wife had brought to keep the toddlers quiet.

Very gentle pressure on the pedal revved the engine. Limped up to the Hertz drop-off at TPA. Dripping sweat. Completed paperwork, then went out to the car and mashed the pedal hard, breaking the twist-tie. Hertz problem now!
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Old Jun 3, 11, 2:13 pm
  #47  
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Originally Posted by dranz View Post
So; I'm travelling with a German colleague, in Nebraska ... Dieter is driving.

We exit a construction zone and the sign says, "Speed Limit Ends"

Dieter resumes cruising at 75+. Moments later ... red lights and sirens.

As Officer Bubba approaches the car, Dieter says, "Do not speak. Not a word."

Bubba asks for his license and the registration. Dieter shifts from perfectly good
english to German with a bit of pigdeon english. He proceeds to extract a
piece of onion skin paper, 8.5x11", and hands it Bubba. Budda doesn't read
German.

In order to increase comprehension, Bubba shifts into "slower & louder" mode.
Dieter keeps nodding agreement with whatever Bubba says, "Yah, yah, yah.
LICENSE!"

Bubba says that the speed limit is 55MPH. Dieter says, "No! Sign says,
SPEED LIMIT ENDS!" They go round & round & round & round on this matter.

Whenever Bubba speaks to me, I look at Dieter, shrug, and say, "Nein?"

Officer Bubba finally let us go, without a ticket.
ROFL! That's not a horror story, that's a win!
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Old Jun 3, 11, 10:10 pm
  #48  
 
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Very much like a family friend of ours who had retired to Mexico. Periodically, the local cops would try shake down the obvious gringo for a bribe to get out of a bogus violation. The going rate for the bribe was only $4, so most of the retirees just paid it from time to time.

Our friend, however, took to rolling down her window, looking the cop straight in the eye, and saying -- in an excruciating Texas accent:

"Je ne parle pas le francais."

And repeating it over and over till the cop shrugged his shoulder and left.

(BTW, our friend spoke fluent Parisian French, and more than passable Spanish.)





Originally Posted by dranz View Post
So; I'm travelling with a German colleague, in Nebraska ... Dieter is driving.

We exit a construction zone and the sign says, "Speed Limit Ends"

Dieter resumes cruising at 75+. Moments later ... red lights and sirens.

As Officer Bubba approaches the car, Dieter says, "Do not speak. Not a word."

Bubba asks for his license and the registration. Dieter shifts from perfectly good
english to German with a bit of pigdeon english. He proceeds to extract a
piece of onion skin paper, 8.5x11", and hands it Bubba. Budda doesn't read
German.

In order to increase comprehension, Bubba shifts into "slower & louder" mode.
Dieter keeps nodding agreement with whatever Bubba says, "Yah, yah, yah.
LICENSE!"

Bubba says that the speed limit is 55MPH. Dieter says, "No! Sign says,
SPEED LIMIT ENDS!" They go round & round & round & round on this matter.

Whenever Bubba speaks to me, I look at Dieter, shrug, and say, "Nein?"

Officer Bubba finally let us go, without a ticket.
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Old Jun 4, 11, 7:54 am
  #49  
 
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Originally Posted by KoKoBuddy View Post
A rental car is maintained properly. Last thing Avis wants is one of their car's brakes to fail and kill someone so the brakes are checked routinely. Pads are changed when needed. The oil is changed when needed. All fluids are checked, tires rotated, etc when needed. That's the most important thing in a car. Has it been maintained properly? If I'm buying a used car and the seller doesn't have a full set of records, I won't even look.
A friend worked for one of the more enterprising car rental chains when we were in college. She warned me against buying a used rental. Her specific objection was lack of maintenance. Their airport location would routinely send cars needing service to other locations or rent them to people doing one-ways. Once at the new destination, it was a toss up as to whether they would get timely service or be sent somewhere else.
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Old Jun 4, 11, 11:55 am
  #50  
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Originally Posted by marklyon View Post
A friend worked for one of the more enterprising car rental chains when we were in college. She warned me against buying a used rental. Her specific objection was lack of maintenance. Their airport location would routinely send cars needing service to other locations or rent them to people doing one-ways. Once at the new destination, it was a toss up as to whether they would get timely service or be sent somewhere else.
I had a co-worker who was gung-ho about buying a "Police Interceptor", obviously seduced by the use of the term "Interceptor"...it's a misnomer..they should call it "Police Idler" because they spend more of their time stopped with the engine running or driving in traffic at the regular speeds. They do get into pursuits, but then you don't want a used car driven that hard anyhow, especially by different drivers 24/7 . That, and they are puked in, kicked, dented and generally abused and worn despite the strengthened suspension and super-charged engines.

Never get a car with more than 3 different regular drivers...but he insisted it would be a supercar, and sure enough it ended up being a nightmare.
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Old Jun 4, 11, 12:01 pm
  #51  
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Originally Posted by marklyon View Post
A friend worked for one of the more enterprising car rental chains when we were in college. She warned me against buying a used rental. Her specific objection was lack of maintenance. Their airport location would routinely send cars needing service to other locations or rent them to people doing one-ways. Once at the new destination, it was a toss up as to whether they would get timely service or be sent somewhere else.
I agree..

The assumption that rental companies regularly maintain their vehicles according to scheduled maintenance recommended by car manufacturers.. is erroneous.

Plus, these rental companies don't exactly send vehicles their down to the local dealership to get the full on.

They self do it, and having properly kept maintenance records is obscure at best.. With so many makes a models, to have a rep from each company to come in and maintain proper verified records is a near impossibility..
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Old Jun 4, 11, 3:39 pm
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I was in Orlando recently with the GF and two friends. We had a rental van. We did some shopping and went out to dinner at a nice restaurant One of the friends purchased an expensive item and decided to put that item in the stow and go seating area (under the floor). At the restaurant, we were seated on the patio with the van in full view of us. When we got back, I noticed that the driver side door handle looked a bit funny, but thought little of it. Then our friends noticed that everything they purchased was gone - except for the very expensive item (which cost more than everything else combined).

Turns out somebody had pried open the driver side door handle with a screwdriver or something. No alarm on the car.

Looking to avoid insane fees from my insurance ($500 deductible) or from the car rental company - I took it to a body shop the next day. They were able to fix the door (except for a slight ding where you put in your key - you'd only see it if you looked) for $100.

Not as bad of a story as the rest of you all - but not fun either. I still can't believe the car didn't have an alarm system.
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Old Jun 5, 11, 6:32 pm
  #53  
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Originally Posted by planemechanic View Post
They claimed I put gasoline in their diesel engine and ruined the engine. I had fueled the day before and still had the receipt showing the correct fuel. Despite the fact that I had their paperwork showing no damage to the car, despite the fact that I had the fuel receipt showing the correct fuel they insisted it was my problem, not theirs. The refused to investigate the problem and it took me ten months to resolve it through my credit card.
A diesel/gas mistake wouldn't be obvious at turn-in. The receipt showing the right fuel would count for a lot more.

I suspect one of their own people made the mistake and as the last renter you got blamed.
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Old Jun 5, 11, 11:52 pm
  #54  
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Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
A diesel/gas mistake wouldn't be obvious at turn-in. The receipt showing the right fuel would count for a lot more.

I suspect one of their own people made the mistake and as the last renter you got blamed.
Definitely a possibility..

Don't assume that all rental vehicle workers don't ever make mistakes..
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Old Jun 7, 11, 8:06 am
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Old Jun 7, 11, 8:09 am
  #56  
 
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Originally Posted by scubadiver View Post
In FLA with kids, visiting parents. Time to go home. Dad explains a cool way to get to TPA using back roads. Avoid US 19, hardly any traffic.

On a back road through a steaming Florida swamp the engine drops to an idle. Gas pedal flops loose. This was before cell phones. No development near by. No pay phone. Hardly any traffic. Oh Crap!

Being a guy even though not a mechanic I had to look under the hood. Throttle cable had broken. Now what? Using nail clippers as pliers I stripped the broken ends, bent a hook and tied them together with a twist-tie from a bag of snacks wife had brought to keep the toddlers quiet.

Very gentle pressure on the pedal revved the engine. Limped up to the Hertz drop-off at TPA. Dripping sweat. Completed paperwork, then went out to the car and mashed the pedal hard, breaking the twist-tie. Hertz problem now!
MacGuyver would be proud
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Old Jun 7, 11, 8:34 am
  #57  
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I was once travelling to Galway, Ireland for a week for work. Unknowingly, I have planned everything for race week (not a good idea!) My hotel was in the middle of nowhere, about an hour from Galway itself, not a big deal as the countryside is gorgeous. But it did mean I needed a rental car rather than using a cab from the airport to the city centre.

So I get in to Galway airport (teeny tiny place) and the Budget rental guy is standing waiting for me. I am clearly the only customer off this flight, and his last of the day. He completes paperwork at record speed, hands me the keys, and pulls the shutter on the counter. I head out to the lot as directed, and find, what can only be described as 'an old banger'. This was not a rental car. This was someone's granny's car that had been borrowed because they ahd rented out all their other cars. I forget the model, but I'd booked a midsized, and this was about the same size as an old Fiesta. Size alone, no big deal. But this car, complete with cushions on the back seat, as only someone over 70 appreciates the need for, is battered to within an inch of its life. I run back to the terminal, where I find my rental guy trying desperately to ignore my 'Cooey, OI YOU!' across the building. He reluctantly has to turn around and deal with me.

He tells me he is sorry, it isn't 'typical' of a Budget rental car, but it is in perfect order, just a little 'cosmetics'. I insist he comes with me to the car to complete a pre-rental damage diagram, as there is NO WAY they are going to land any of this on me. The finished diagram looks like a 3 year old took a crayon to it and went wild! It was missing a wing mirror, had scratches, dents and dings on every single panel, the seats were stained, the carpet was torn, the windows didn't work (or rather, they seemed not to, then as you coaxed it up to 50mph, the drivers window (manual) smacked down halfway into the door.

I was furious, but had no choice, there were no other cars in the lot, no other rental agencies open etc. He just shrugs and says 'race week'.

I would never rent with Budget again, sent them a letter telling them so, and they sent me a 30 euro coupon 'for your next rental'!
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Old Jun 7, 11, 10:45 am
  #58  
 
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I rented from Budget once, and I did not notice the expired license plate until I was checked into my hotel after 2 hours of driving.
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Old Jun 7, 11, 12:33 pm
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Originally Posted by shuckit View Post
I rented one of those. Scary times.
Could've been worse. I was once stuck with a strange car/truck thing called a Chevy Har Har, or something like that. I kept thinking that they must have named it that because they laughed at anyone who drove it off the lot....
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Old Jun 7, 11, 1:39 pm
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Originally Posted by royalbrett View Post
I rented from Budget once, and I did not notice the expired license plate until I was checked into my hotel after 2 hours of driving.
Enterprise once tried to give me a car with two-month-expired temp tags.

It took quite a bit of squawking to get them to find the plates that were sitting there in the office all along.
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