Why do I have to pay for the flat on my rental car?

When Alicia Reise and her husband rented a car from Hertz in England recently, they had no reason to believe the car was in less than perfect condition.

But there were two little problems. First, Reise thinks one of the tires was faulty. And second, the car didn’t have a spare tire; instead, it came with a canister that could be used to fix a leaky tire, she says.

“We had a flat tire and called the emergency roadside number,” she says. “A person came out and replaced the flat with another tire.”

Problem solved? Not exactly.

“When we returned the car the Hertz people told us we would be charged £150 for the tire. Apparently we were supposed to fix the flat with the canister and take it somewhere – but when you are traveling between small villages, where would you take it?” she asks.

Good question.

It’s no secret that car rental companies have been more aggressive in charging customers for damage to their vehicles. But a flat tire is not an open-and-shut case. If you’re off-roading, for example — and I’m not suggesting that Reise and her husband were — then the tire damage would be on the customer.

Reise insists she drove the car responsibly. What’s more, if she’d had a spare tire, she could have spared Hertz the expense of servicing the vehicle. She’s more than capable of changing the tire on a car.

I tried to find a reference to Hertz’ policy on damaged tires on its UK site, but could only turn up references to its insurance, which covers tire damage.

Related story:   Case dismissed: My father died -- please refund my rental car

Incidentally, Hertz isn’t the only car rental company renting cars without spare tires. Here’s another recent case involving Dollar.

Reise believes it’s a scam.

“They could be sending people out with faulty tires and then wait for it to blow, or go flat and then charge the customer,” she say. “Very shaky.”

I decided to ask Hertz about her flat tire. It contacted her and offered to split the difference on her bill, reducing it to £75.

I asked her if she was happy with that outcome.

“No,” she told me. “I am very disappointed. I think they should pay for the tire.”

She wonders how many people realize that if something goes wrong with the vehicle they are liable.

“This practice is so one sided — geared to the corporation only, not the consumer,” she adds.

I agree that the damage claim process could use a little democracy. Also, spare tires are a good idea in all rental vehicles.

But I’m glad Hertz met her halfway on this claim. Question is, did it go far enough?

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • sirwired

    First, if she had checked the manual, it would have told her about the can of fix-a-flat.  (Or, alternatively, digging around in the trunk probably would have revealed the can, along with the small air compressor that normally goes along with it.)  The rental company CANNOT provide her with a spare because many cars now simply do not have one available.  (They are awful heavy for a piece of “convenience equipment” that most people use unsafely.)  In many cases, the car company has even re-purposed the spare tire well as a storage compartment, so Hertz couldn’t fit one there even if they wanted to hunt down one.

    Second, it’s not as if England is some country made up of vast expanses where vehicle repair services are few and far between, and communication is impossible.  I doubt she’d have a tough time finding a garage to perform a proper repair after the fix-a-flat was used.

    Third, except for mechanical fault, the renter is responsible for all damage that happens to the car while it’s in his/her possession.  This avoids long, protracted, arguments about “fault” for damage, and means the rental car agency doesn’t have to, say, arbitrate between the renter (who may not even be in the country any more) and whatever 3rd-party they choose to blame their damage on.  This is not an obscure or poorly-written part of the rental contract.

    Yes, they’ve pre-settled such disputes in their favor, but they are the
    ones that write the contract, and they offer an over-priced way (the
    LDW/CDW) to change that, if you want to.

    Fourth, why does she assume she was rented a vehicle with a defective tire?  I’ve had several flats in my lifetime due to foreign object puncture.  It is silly to assume that because she’s a “careful driver” she has the magical ability to avoid the nails and screws that occasionally puncture the tires of mere mortals.

    Lastly, did she not use one of the many credit cards that would cover this for her?  If I get charged for a flat tire, I’d pay up and simply call up Visa and send them the appropriate forms to get my money back.

  • Agree. It’s unfortunate, but the base price of rentals hardly includes ANYTHING other than your use of the car. That’s the way the world works these days… Just pay the 75 quid and move on. (Although this does remind me to ask about stuff like this when I rent a car…)

  • sadia tariq

     nice post

  • emanon256

    It sounds like she call the Hertz roadside assistance, they changed the tire, and then when she returned the vehicle, they told her the 150 was because she didn’t use the can and take it somewhere?  Sounds like Hertz should have told her this when she called roadside assistance rather than when she returned it (I am guessing it was some contracted company who provides the roadside assistance, so they provided the service).  I mean, why offer road side assistance if you then tell the customers they shouldn’t have used it.  I am hoping this is why Hertz offered to split the difference.
    As far as the damage, it’s the way it works.  If the vehicle gets damaged while you possess it, then you pay for the damage.  If the tire simply wore out over time and developed a leak due to normal wear (It would have to be really worn) I think the rental car company should pay.  But any sort of road hazard type damage falls on the customer.  It’s amazing how many nails and other debris there are on roads and how easily the go into tires.  She lost my sympathy when she said: “They could be sending people out with faulty tires and then wait for it to blow, or go flat and then charge the customer,” she say. “Very shaky.”.  Conspiracy Theory?  I think she should pay and move on.

  • TonyA_says

    If you were driving your own car and you got a flat, what would you do? Me thinks you would also call roadside assistance. Duh.

  • kakeyte

    “They could be sending people out with faulty tires and then wait for it to blow, or go flat and then charge the customer… Very shaky.” – is this person seriously asserting that they are purposefully sending people out with faulty tyres? The hyperbole lately from OPs is ridiculous!!

  • kakeyte

    re: point number 2 (I live here) she is not driving across the desert southwest, it’s a very tiny island and we have a very well developed network of emergency callout services (which would have been included in her rental).

  • lost_in_travel

    Where would you take the tire instead of Road Side Assistance?  I realize there are plenty of tire repair places, but which one did Hertz want her to use?  Hertz gives the Road Side Assistance number to people.  I can see another case coming to you where someone got the tire repaired and Hertz is charging for the tire because it was repaired at an unapproved place. 

    Also I am not sure a tire is repairable after using the glop in the cannister.  Terribly hard to find the leak after it is temporarily plugged.

  • MarkKelling

    Damage occurred to a part of the vehicle while in her possession.  She is responsible.  

    If she would have taken out the offered insurance, she would not have had to pay extra for the tire.  Of course I’m sure the insurance probably cost more per day than the rental did.  Most credit card insurances don’t cover tires on rental cars (at least none of mine do) so I doubt she will get anything from them if hers offers rental car coverage.  Also, I noticed with the Hertz and Avis insurance offered in the US that tires are specifically excluded from the coverage so the fact that the English insurance covers them is a surprise and probably would have saved her a few pounds over all.

    I do have an issue with the rental company insisting on renters using the fix-a-flat product.  Most tire repair places I have run across get very upset if you use fix-a-flat.  They have to clean it off the inside of the wheel and the tire before they can attempt to do a proper fix.  Most will even refuse to fix a tire where fix-a-flat has been used and will insist you purchase a new tire.  If road side assistance replaces the tire, at least it can be patched and reused on a future replacement for that rental company (unless the damage is too extreme of course).

    I have not yet run across a car without a spare.  I am actually looking for a new car right now and everything I have looked at in the various show rooms has one and every car I have rented so far has had one.  Is it only the very small cars (like the kind you get when you rent in Europe) that don’t have them any more?

  • sirwired

     It’s usually repairable, but the shop will charge more than a standard flat repair.

  • sirwired

     I just checked the policy Visa offers, and I see no exclusion for tire or wheel damage.  I searched the entire policy (including the exclusion list) for “tire” and “wheel” and didn’t come up with anything.  (Mastercard, however, does exclude routine tire punctures.)  Nor do I see any exclusion for wheel/tire damage in Hertz’s US LDW/CDW agreement.

    Tires repaired with Fix-a-flat CAN be repaired.  The only restriction is that they have to dismount the tire in a well-ventilated area.  The “goop” can be cleaned out with soapy water.

    Plenty of new cars don’t have spares; this is done as a fuel-saving measure.  It started with sporty cars, but it’s spreading to many other models.

  • Adam_The_Man

    No, Its another scam!

    A customer should not have to pay for normal wear and tear on a rental car.  It’s a rental car.  The rental company has to maintain it, and that is what the customer pays them for.

  • Rosered7033

    Re: new cars with spare tires, no, even Cadillac no longer outfits all their cars with spares, only the fix-a-flat cans.
    I disagree with most posts here. If you rent a car, the assumption is that it will be in good working condition. A flat could be the result of a previous problem, only realized after the car has been driven for a period, and if the rental car co. cannot prove misuse by the OP, and the OP used common sense and drove responsibly (I know, hard to prove either way), then why should it be on the OP to pay? Who’s to say this tire had not been previously inflated with the fix-a-flat? Just too many questions to pin this on the OP.

  • john4868

    Interesting that all of the comments seem to support Hertz but the poll supports the OP.

    I think she ran over something and got a flat. It happens to everyone even if you have brand new tires on your vehicle. Hertz’s policies are different in the UK than they are here (I know it may shock some people but the UK is a separate country they are allowed to do things their own way) and a flat isn’t covered.

    Hertz made a nice offer spliting the difference

  • RITom

    Me thinks you would get the spear out of the back and change it Duh

  • RITom

    After checking for dents chips and dings on a rental check for a spare tire.  If one is not there then DO NOT RENT IT. If you have AAA or CA use it first then call the rental company to change the flat. The renter is NOT responsible for normal wear and tear and the Rental company must show proof that damge was done to the rie .(nail)

  • TonyA_says

    Should I go hunt for a deer with the spear? :-)
    Based on what I see around here in my neck of the woods, you are liable to get run over if you try to change a flat tire on the side (what little space we have) of the road. Even the cops will pull over and tell you how dangerous it is.

  • Michael__K

    If you were driving your own car and the engine died, what would you do?  Not call roadside assistance?

    If you are driving your own car, proper maintenance and monitoring of wear and tear are your responsibility and entirely within your control.  If you are driving a rental car, maintenance and wear and tear is almost entirely outside of your control.

  • TonyA_says

     For a FLAT TIRE (as the case here is) I will call AAA or road side assistance in the USA or overseas. By the way I used to be a mechanic when I worked my way through college. It’s not that I don’t or can’t do it. Narrow roadways are just too dangerous.

  • My problem with this is pretty simple.  When you run a car rental business, replacing tires, regular maintenance, like, say oil changes, tune-ups, etc. are on the business.  I would agree if there were evidence of off road driving than the flat tire could be customers fault.  However, if that tire had 50,000 – 80,000 miles on it, then the business has had the use of a good tire for that long.  Why should a consumer have to pay for that when the business gets to then start from 0 and have use of that tire, without taking into account any depreciation or use of that tire.  This is the same to me as the change oil light going off or the maintenance light going off in a rented vehicle and them forcing the consumer to pay the price of maintenance.  What is more, most businesses are able to deduct this as a cost of doing business, so yes, they are out cash and a deduction is not the same thing as money in your pocket, but come on.  To sum it up, why should the business get a brand new tire as a replacement for one that had been used to begin with. 

  • Michael__K

    Can you point to what specifically is different between Hertz US and the UK?  

    Reporting from 2010:

    rental car companies, which once came to customers’ rescue with free roadside assistance, increasingly are charging them when the companies’ cars have trouble on the road — especially if travelers don’t pay extra for roadside assistance coverage before they drive off.

    There’s this assurance:

    The companies say they’ll provide free service if the renter didn’t cause the problem. 

    But reporting suggests that companies are nonetheless often aggressive about refusing to provide free roadside service for problems like flat tire changes and warning lights that are seemingly not caused by the renter:


  • Michael__K

    Damage occurred to a part of the vehicle while in her possession.  She is responsible. 

    So if the battery fails (it’s part of the vehicle, no?) she’s responsible for replacing that too?

    Is she supposed to do a professional thorough inspection of the vehicle before renting, like someone would do before buying a used car?

  • No, I’d call AAA

  • Agreed.  A flat tire should not be considered damage unless there is evidence that the customer did something wrong.  The posters who are quoting the “All damage is the customer’s” are not thinking this through carefully.

    Certain parts of a car wear out over time and will eventually fail and need replacing.  Tires, brakes, fluids are all examples, That’s normal wear and tear, not damage.  If the customer were responsible for these items, the rental company is effectively playing Russian Roulette with the customers.  These are costs of doing business and should be included in the base cost so that all customers are chipping in a small amount according to their usage.

    Discussions of insurance and credit cards are red herrings.  You should have to purchase insurance for something that you should be liable for in the first place.

    This is particularly true as the customer cannot reasonable inspect the car to protect himself, unless we believe that before each rental the customer should check oil and transmission fluid, ensure adequate coolant levels, and carry a tire pressure gauge and thread depth gage.  Obviously, it makes better sense to put the onus on the rental car company as they maintain the records of fluid replacement, tire mileage, etc.

    Of course, if there is evidence of the customer’s negligence, e.g. driving after the car overheats, driving on the wheel rims, that’s s different story.

  • I think its more like she was inarticulate.  A better way of phrasing it would be that perhaps the car rental company, to save money, inadequately maintains its cars, knowing that should problems arise, they can bill the renter.

  • tomjuno

    I’m with RITom on this. Given the amount of crap you can find on major roads (and even quiet streets) nowadays, a flat tire qualifies as normal wear and tear, and is the responsibility of the car rental company. If the company gets obstinate, dispute the charge with VISA – as I did some time ago (successfully) – and the company will buckle. 

  • emanon256

    In that case, I agree with the statement, and believe it’s likely to be true in some rental companies.

  • Did she buy their insurance? if no then they can charge her 1,000 dollars if they want, because somewhere along the line she said “no, I don;t need YOUR overpriced insurance, i have my own insurance.”

    These cases piss me off because I once ran over a dead body (an adult male deer) destroying the under side of my car. My car was towed, and i was given a new one – ALL FOR FREE! why? because i paid the 500 dollars for THIER insurance.

  • Charles Owen

    While in St. Martin last year we hit one of the epic potholes they have and blew out a tire. It was a Hertz car and did include a spare. We were changed $100 for the tire when we turned in the car. We filed a claim with American Express and they paid the $100. It was a straightforward process, so I have no sympathy for anyone complaining about rental car damage if they don’t bother to know what insurance they already have available for free.

  • Michael__K

    No quibble there.  I interpreted your previous post as suggesting no meaningful distinction between a  flat in your own car vs. a rental car.

    I felt obliged to point out what I see as an important distinction.

  • reasonedthought

    I have a former client who got a flat in Hawaii.  The bellmen at the hotel changed the tire on the car, putting the flat in the trunk.  When my client returned the car to Hertz, he told them about the flat and expected to be billed for the repair of the flat.  They didn’t say anything at that time.  Three weeks later, he got a letter billing him for 5 new tires.  Hertz claimed that they couldn’t repair the tire that had gone flat and since they had to replace that tire, they had to replace all of them so that the tire wear would be the same on all five tires.  He responded that if he was buying them 5 tires, he wanted the 5 used ones shipped to him.  They went back and forth for about 30 days and in the end he paid for one tire and pulled his company’s business from Hertz, which means that they got $150.00 or so for the tire and lost $500,000.00 annually in rentals.  

  • Michael__K

    except for mechanical fault, the renter is responsible for all damage that happens to the car while it’s in his/her possession.

    What is your source for that claim?

    The Hertz UK rental agreement makes no distinction between mechanical and non-mechanical breakdowns.  The only distinction is based on who is “responsible” and whether the loss is “reasonable.”   Good luck figuring that out when a tire blows.  Does the renter have to photograph the wear and tear?

    Subject only to any deductions arising from your acceptance of any of the options specified at paragraph 4.2 you will be liable to us for all reasonable losses and costs incurred by us in the event of loss, damage to or theft of the vehicle, its parts or accessories while on rental. Your liability may include the cost of repairs, loss in value of the vehicle, loss of rental income, towing and storage charges and an administration charge, which recovers our costs for handling any claim arising from damage caused to the vehicle unless responsibility for the damage lies with us or has been determined by a third party or their insurers to lie with the third party.

  • TonyA_says

    I see no evidence from the OP’s case that the rental company gave her bad tires. Her main complaint was when driving in small villages where would you get your tire fixed. My answer is that same way or place you would if the car were yours. Call roadside assistance.

  • Michael__K

    I see no evidence that Hertz gave her a vehicle with good tires.

    The only info we have on the subject is:

    Reise thinks one of the tires was faulty. 

  • TonyA_says

     My brother got a flat on one of the front tires in his all wheel drive. When we went to the tire shop, they told him the tire needed replacement but the car manufacturer and insurance required that all 4 wheels had to be replaced at the same time. Ugh. I don’t know if this is a scam, but he replaced all 4. So this could be a similar situation.

  • TonyA_says

    So let her prove it.
    Is she qualified to make that conclusion? Is she a tire expert? Does she sell tires or something?

  • Michael__K

    Should the renter demand a tire pressure gauge and demand that the vehicle to be raised on a hydraulic lift to inspect tread and wheel alignment before signing a rental agreement?

  • IGoEverywhere

    1) Were they booked through a tour company?
    2) Did they charge the car on American Express?
    3) Did they act as their own travel agent?
    4) Did they take out travel insurance?
    5) Everything is extra on car rentals.
    6) another 100 did they?
    Any ASTA travel agent would know how to have suggested planning this trip.

  • TonyA_says

     No. But if they don’t like the vehicle they are given they can always ask to another one (before they leave).

    Would you leave the lot if the tires were flat or low? Would you leave the lot with bald tires? Nah.

  • Michael__K

    How does she know if she “likes” or doesn’t like the vehicle if she doesn’t have the means to properly inspect things that you claim she is responsible for (even if she has the expertise or brings someone with the expertise to perform such an inspection)?

  • JenniferFinger

    I actually voted no, but I’ve been wondering:

    1) If Reise thought the car had a faulty tire, why didn’t she dispute that with the agency before she took the car? 
    2) And why didn’t she find out if the car came with a spare rather than a canister?

    If the answer to 1 was that they wouldn’t give her any other car and there wasn’t any other agency she could go to, maybe she was stuck. I’ll reserve judgment. 

    With 2, I have to admit that I’d probably have assumed that the car came with a spare myself-I certainly wouldn’t know how to use a canister and I’ve only rented cars in the US, where they all came with spares.  If she’s never rented outside the US, she probably made that same assumption.  Again, I’ll reserve judgment.

    But it does seem to me like the car rental agencies overcharge, and that most wear and tear, especially on tires, would be the agencies’ responsibility.  Only if the renter was clearly at fault does it make sense to me to charge the renter for the cost of a new tire.  But again that can be hard to tell.

  • TonyA_says

     She shouldn’t rent one if she is that incompetent.

  • TonyA_says

    Perhaps she can drive HER OWN car. When I rent a car I assume I will take some risks, so I make sure I have [extra] insurance.

  • TonyA_says

     Maybe they want to travel cheap.

  • emanon256

    If the tire went flat because of age, or runs out of tread, etc. I believe it’s on the rental company.  But if it went flat due to a road hazard while the customer has it, how would the rental car company be responsible?
    Say you lent your car to a friend and they ran over a nail and it got a flat.  Would you ask them to fix it?  Or would you say, there are so many road hazards, since I own the car, I’ll pay for it?

  • emanon256

    My car has AWD and the manual says the same thing.  All tires must be replaced at the same time with the same brand, type and size tire.  My warrantee says that the drive train will not be covered if I do not have evidence that the tires were all replaced at the same time with the same brand/type/size, and in the event one tire is damaged, that one tire can be replaced with a used tire of the same brand/type/measurement as long as the tire has tread wear within 2/32 of the average tread ware of the matching tires, and is certified by the dealer as such.
    My current client is a car aficionado, he has several Audis.  And he said the same thing for AWD/4WD, you must have the same size and tread wear or it can damage the differential, and you have to rotate more frequently to ensure they wear evenly.  He said with 2-wheel drive, the fronts need to match and the backs need to match, but the front and back can be different from each other.

  • TonyA_says

    My Subaru Outback and my neighbors 2 Audi’s have the same requirements. Acura RDX of my brother same issue.
    So if you rent an AWD and you damage one tire, be prepared to be billed for all 4. It makes sense since you will do the same for your own car, right?

  • TonyA_says

    The one in the US says you need to drive on the right side of the road :-)

  •  Well, I would just pay to fix the tire.  I lent my car out, who knows when the nail got into the tire and I am still going to benefit from having a new tire.  Cost of car ownership.  Now if said friend went off roading in my vehicle and flattened my tire, I may ask them to pay for part of the cost of replacing the tire.  At the end of the day, I still benefit from having a new tire vs driving on an old one. 

  • TonyA_says

    Could you imagine ruining a perfect vacation or holiday because one goes cheap without insurance? We don’t know the roads, directions, and a lot of other things. Why add to the misery and risk more without the right insurance? I don’t get it with these people.

  • MarkKelling

    I do not include mechanical failure in the same category as damage.  But according to other posters here, Hertz UK apparently does.

    A failure of a mechanical part is beyond the control of the driver unless the driver does something to cause the failure. For example, if you are driving along and the engine quits with no warning and it is determined the engine quit because the oil pump failed, that is nothing the driver had control over. However, if the driver runs over trash in the road puncturing the oil pan and the engine quits because of oil loss cause by that, then the driver caused the failue because of the damage done to the vehicle while it was in his control and is liable for repairs.

  • Miami510

    I first got my drivers’ license 62 years ago and this is the
    first time I’ve had to think about this problem.  I am, however, glad to read it, because I
    have  a Hertz rental in another state
    beginning tomorrow afternoon. 

    This is a wonderful site. 
    Now I know to have eyes in the back of my head when renting:  I expect to take pictures of every
    microscopic flaw I can find and photograph it with my iPhone.  I’ll also list it on the contract and have
    the attendant initial my note.  I’m going
    to check for a spare and have that noted on the contract as well.

    I also booked through Hotels.com.  If there is anything amiss I’m going to let
    Christopher know.  Thank you all for the
    accumulated travel wisdom.  Forewarned is
    forearmed, right?

  • backprop

     It’s the caricature!  Everything’s a “SCAM!”

  • Michael__K

    Notice that even Hertz UK doesn’t believe she is responsible for the tire replacement.  Just the roadside assistance (which doesn’t quite add up if you believe that DIY at the side of a narrow road is unsafe).

    Perhaps the companies can revise their contracts accordingly and revise what they tell the public and the media (“The companies say they’ll provide free [roadside] service if the renter didn’t cause the problem”) if they want to change course and follow a caveat emptor model where the customer is responsible for any and all breakdowns if they don’t buy [extra] insurance.

  • SallyLu

    Wow…not all of us worked as mechanics during college!  Doesn’t mean we’re incompetent!

  • Adam_The_Man

    Not everything is a scam, but the poll shows that most people agree with me.  Everyone here is too hard on people who are begin ripped off.

  • judyserienagy

    The vehicle belongs to Hertz, the tire belongs to Hertz.  A reputable auto rental company should keep their vehicles in good condition, including a spare tire.  If not, the renter should be responsible for making the vehicle whole to continue the rental they’re paying for and Hertz is responsible for the cost of a usable car.  What are we supposed to do?  Take every rental car to a mechanic for a complete checkup before we leave town on vacation?  This concept of “that’s the way it is” is ridiculous.  Just another wonderful way for the consumer to be cheated.

  • tomjuno

    The two situations aren’t comparable. I’m lending my car to my friend, not renting it to him. No money changed hands. And if he gets a flat, as friends we’ll come to a reasonable accommodation. But when I rent a car – a business arrangement – both I and the rental company are tacitly aware of potholes, building materials, trash and other junk often strewn along today’s roadways. To me, that counts as normal wear and tear. I don’t need to buy extra insurance to cover it (though I suppose I have it with my premium credit card). Unless I’ve behaved irresponsibly – travelling dirt roads and such – it’s the rental car company’s responsibility to eat the damage. As I’ve said, I merely handed it over to my card company, it leaned on the rental company – and the rental company caved immediately.

  • Michael__K

    Do you expect the customer to definitively prove  that they didn’t do anything improper?

    If so, how?

    If not, where is the evidence that the customer did anything improper here?

  • MikeInCtown

    What he is saying is that the leak may not be noticable once you have filled the tire with crap. Also, the fix a flat stuff makes a mess and tire shop charge EXTRA for times where this has been used.

    I do agree though that they gave the roadside number for assistance, so if there was a significant charge for the service, it should have been communicated up front. Sadly, $75 pounds for a tire fix is still way too much.

  • backprop

     So most people agree with you, but everyone is too hard on people.  Check.

  • MikeInCtown

    People are siding with the OP in the poll because the charge was for the roadside assistance, or at least it seemed that way, because the OP was told they could have just inflated it and driven it somewhere for a fix. there was no mention of a charge to fix the tire at an approved place. Considering it takes less than an hour to fix a tire completely and in the US I have paid no more than $25 for the service, it appears a hundred and fifty is a pretty damn big charge.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Logically, shouldn’t it be up to the rental company to prove she did something wrong? 

    Best of luck finding anybody who could accurately diagnose where or when a nail ended up in a tire. I once picked up a nail on a secondary vehicle and actually saw it in the tire. I wasn’t using the vehicle so it sat for weeks before the tire finally lost enough air to be obviously low.  I’ve also had tires with slow leaks that quite suddenly turned into flats because the object shifted or somesuch.

  • TonyA_says

     Don’t you sign on the line that says that you received a car in good order ???

  • Joe_D_Messina

    In the caricature’s defense, the poll results and comments frequently tell very different stories.  That seems to be the case on this one, as well.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I agree with you.  And making matters worse in this case, the $10 repair of the flat tire isn’t what the customer was charged for; they got hammered for roughly $230 for roadside assistance. No way did it cost Hertz that much for the assistance and they were probably going to turn a profit on this deal even if they bought a brand new tire. (And charging the renter for a brand new tire wouldn’t have really been fair given the old damaged tire was partially worn out at the time.)

  • Michael__K

    RA only has space to note external dentsand scratches.

  • Bill___A

    I question the cost of the tire.  Road service should come with the rental.   Tire shouldn’t be more than £100 I should think (without checking prices). 

  • MarkKelling

    I am not saying the customer did anything improper.  Nor do I claim the person who punctures the oil pan in my example did either.  
    You can easily total an auto by doing everything right, doing nothing wrong, and things happen and the car goes off the road and crashes into a light pole.  If this customer had driven into the light pole and totaled the car, are you saying it is not their fault and they should not pay for the damage to the vehicle?  

  • MarkKelling

    You always have to drive on the “right” ride of the road.  Driving on the wrong side is dangerous.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Thanks to you and @TonyA_says:disqus for this little tidbit.  I promptly went out and checked my Subaru Forester – yep, that language is there.  Warranty expired 12,000 miles ago, so that point is moot.  Checked my husband’s Honda Crosstour (AWD).  Now *that* warranty and owner’s manual says while replacing 4 is preferred, 2 is the minimum and doesn’t void any warranties if only 2 of the 4 are replaced.  Again, thanks for making me aware!

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Hey, are you a minor league ballplayer in your spare time?  Omaha Storm Chasers, batting avg .309 as of Saturday?  Got to wonder – you’ve been a mechanic, a lover of gourmet food, travel agent and maybe this same Tony A. (same last name as yours) is also you, moonlighting? 

  • TonyA_says

    Yeah he was traded (demoted) Good guess.

  • I’m confused. Why Hertz charge her 150 GBP ($235)?

    Was it for the cost of a new tire, time and labor for the “roadside assistance,” or both?

    On a UK site called Tyre Price Advisor I found Michelin tires in the 63-69 GBP price range. Based on those prices, it would seem that Hertz may have initially overcharged the renter, but ultimately reduced the charge to something akin to the price of a new tire.

    But that conclusion assumes that: 1) The tire was damaged beyond repair, which always seems to happen when I run over a nail while driving my own car; 2) the renter should pay for all costs of repair/replacement simply because the problem occurred during the rental period.

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  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Okay, have had time to think about this (didn’t get to read this until I got home a couple of hours ago).  I think part of the 150 pound charge included the charge for roadside assistance.  I also think Ms. Reise got charged for a new tire.  Why do I think that?

    If I have AAA come to change a tire and the spare is also dead, they tow me to the nearest place to fix a tire.  They can’t fix the tire on-site.  (Happened to my mom.)  If I have a can of Fix-a-Flat, either I or they would use that before towing.  They *aren’t* going to bring me a replacement tire.

    So – Ms. Reise’s tire wasn’t fixable with Fix-a-Flat. Ms. Reise’s thought that the tire was “faulty” as opposed to merely being stuck with a nail leads me to think the sidewall blew out or the tire was shredded by the time she pulled over to address the situation.  There isn’t enough Fix-a-Flat in the world to deal with that situation.

    If the rental car didn’t come with a spare, either Hertz had to pull that replacement tire off another car in inventory, take one out of some hypothetical back room or go out and buy one.  All of those options cost money.  If the flat tire was repairable, there may or may not be a credit toward the cost of the replacement tire, but I kind of doubt that.  The “administrative fees” and “loss of use fees” and “miscellaneous malarkey markups” would eat up any “credit”.

    Ms. Reise would undoubtedly be upset if part of her vacation were spent waiting for a small village’s garage to get in the specific tire needed to replace her tire, had she been towed and then left to fend for herself.  My local garage sometimes has to wait 2-3 days to get tires for my Subaru Forester.  I have an entire list of places where I’ve had to spend lots of time, sometimes days, waiting for a replacement part for my car.  Perhaps the OP could look at the now 75 pound charge as the value of her vacation time.

    I have no idea what her particular contract said about who pays for what part in what circumstances.  Side wall blowing out?  Manufacturer warranty should come into play and Hertz should work with the OP on that.  Driving on a flat tire until it shreds?  OP’s responsibility.  I don’t know.  Just my thoughts.  Sorry for the length of the post.

  • lost_in_travel

    I picked up a nasty nail in the tire of my BMW  wagon with all wheel drive and had only one tire replaced at the BMW dealer – lucked out because the tread wear was close enough.  Their first thought was to repair the tire, but the nail was a bit too close to the edge of the tread (3/4 “) and I was uncomfortable with it.  

  • y_p_w

    I had a tire blow out on the freeway at the speed limit.  I’ve experienced such a flat, and I knew the “whump, whump” meant a flat tire that was shredded on the sidewalls. I talked to the service writer when I got it replaced and explained what happened.  He said there’s no way a tire can survive a blowout at that high a speed.  It basically shreds itself from the heat and motion within seconds, but at least a good tire will stay in one piece even though there are dozens of holes in it.  A tire that completely flies off (and I’ve seen several) is not a good thing.

    The majority of tires will shred, although I do remember having a flat on a particular tire with super stiff sidewalls that didn’t shred when the tire blew out at 50 MPH.

    For the most part I think forcing anyone to replace a tire should be prorated for the wear.  I would be patently unfair to force someone to pay the entire cost of a tire that’s near the end of its life.  The tires I bought came with an included prorated flat repair or replacement policy from the seller.  They made me pay for the installation for my last flat, but I got a brand new tire for only the cost of the wear from the original to 4/32″.  They charged me $20 for a $120 tire.  I think that was fair.

  • y_p_w

    It should also depend on the wear of the original tire.

    If a vehicle is totaled, insurance doesn’t cover the entire cost of replacing it with a comparable brand new vehicle. It would cover the cost of the value of the car if it’s used.

    If a tire is almost down to the wear bars, then there’s no way that a customer should be made to pay for the entire cost of a brand new tire.  Or tyre.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Agree on the prorating – that’s how manufacturer’s warranties work and would be a good model to follow in general.  As I noted somewhere above, I don’t think that Hertz would pass along any credit that way, although it *should*. 

  • The customer should never pay for a tire unless the customer did something stupid like run over the do not back up spikes. It;s just as likely that the tire was already damaged by a previous customer or was the result of wear and tear.

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