No spare tire in my car rental – do I deserve a credit?

Where's my donut? / Photo by H Rocker - Flickr
The late model Hyundai Elantra that Joe Gershman rented from Dollar in Charleston, SC, recently looked fine from the outside.

But while he was driving the rental car one evening, he discovered it had a big problem.

“We got a flat tire,” he says. “And when we opened the trunk to pull out the spare, there was no spare.”

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No spare tire? Is that legal?

My reading of the South Carolina Code of Regulations says is is. Rental cars aren’t required to have spare tires. But common sense tells you they probably should.

Gershman says learned of the oversight when he called called AAA for a tow.

He explains,

AAA inflated the tire so that we could drive the vehicle to a gas station to get fixed the next day (they were closed for the night), and then we had to pay a cab to take us to our lodging, which was about 10 miles away.

Had there been a spare, as is normal and customary, we would have continued to have use of the car while the tire was fixed – and I would have had no complaints.

Hmm, well, two problems with that one. The first call you make when a rental car is having mechanical trouble is not AAA, but the rental car company. It’s up to the agency — not AAA — to get the vehicle back on the road.

Also, you wouldn’t drive around on a donut for several days. That could create even more problems. A spare tire is meant to get you to the garage, where you can get a new tire. If you drive it for longer than 70 miles, it could blow out.

Dollar offered him a replacement car. Gershman decided to take the matter up with Dollar when he returned it.

We requested that we be credited for the one day that we were without a car (approximately $37) because they had rented us a car without a spare – and without notifying us of that fact.

A supervisor refused. She first claimed that Hyundai did not make the Elantra with a spare. We pointed out that that was untrue, as the owners manual discusses the spare for several pages, and the trunk includes a space for it — they just chose not to provide their customers with one.

She then said, well, the Elantras that Dollar buys don’t have a spare — they rented us a car with four tires, and if we had a flat that was our problem and we would have to continue paying for the rental even if they didn’t provide us with a spare.

When I asked where it was disclosed in our contract that they were renting us a car with no spare tire, she denied Dollar had any obligation to inform us and said that the contract did not commit that they were providing us with a spare tire.

Appeals to Dollar corporate were met with the same response.

Gershman wants to know if I can mediate his case.

“The dollar amount is not huge, but the principal is important,” he says. “Rental car companies shouldn’t be renting cars without a spare and then charging for the time you are without a car because they inconvenienced you by renting you a car without a spare.”

I agree, having a car without a spare was inconvenient. But there’s no federal or state law I’m aware of that requires a car rental company to include a spare tire.

A more compelling question would be: Does Gershman deserve compensation for his loss of use of the vehicle?

Car rental companies routinely charge a “loss of use” fee when their vehicles are being repaired. Why shouldn’t it go the other way?

Update: Here are a few more details of the time loss from Gershman:

After several calls with Dollar on the night of the 4th and the morning of the 5th, in which we complained about being rented a car with no spare, we were permitted to take another vehicle that had a spare tire around 1 pm on the 5th (the tire on the Elantra had to be replaced, and was still being worked on at that time).

85 thoughts on “No spare tire in my car rental – do I deserve a credit?

    1. I was biting my tongue on that one, Aaron, but thank you for pointing that out.  (I would guess you’re a fellow reader of “Eats Shoots and Leaves”?)

    2. I saw that too. Principal and principle are two different things. The principal is the head of a school, a principle is an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct (yes, I had to look that one up). Remember this phrase: “The principal is your pal” to keep them straight.

  1. The manager of the rental agency was likely correct.  The Elantra does not come with a spare in all trims.  (I wasn’t able to find any data about which trims it DOES come with, but some Googling shows many people looking for a spare for their Elantra… maybe the Touring has it?)

    I would not have expected the rental agency to take special care in informing the customer that the vehicle is “missing” something it never had.

    It is quite common for cars these days to not come with a spare tire.  I don’t agree with the decision, but it is true nonetheless.  To save on weight, more and more carmakers are substituting a can of fix-a-flat and an air compressor in place of the traditional spare and jack.

    1. If there’s no spare, there should be a repair and inflator kit in its place. AFAIK all new cars come with some provision for a flat, be it a spare, a repair kit, or run-flat tires.

      I’m inclined to say “mediate,” but I don’t understand why the OP didn’t call the rental car company and give them a chance to make it right. Difficult to blame Dollar if they didn’t have a chance to make things right when it was happening. Sounds like the manager gave him the right response, but for the wrong reasons.

    1. The Manager IS Dollar and she refused to remediate the situation. Rental car companies should disclose the lack of a spare tire before the car leaves their facility and the customer should have the option to reject the car if it is not “fully equipped”. 

      Also, if a car has to be brought a repair shop while it is being rented, the rental company should have to option of promptly providing a substitute vehicle or not charging the customer for the day(s) that the vehicle is not drive-able.

        1. I don’t know of any new cars that come with flat tires.  🙂  

          The Elantra Touring though does come with a spare. At least the 2012 model does.

      1. I must wholeheartedly disagree.

        The Manager is NOT Dollar. A local manager is just one person.  Dollar has much much higher folks that can overrule a manager

        The time to remediate this matter was when the car developed a flat.  Dollar could have repaired the tire, replaced the tire, had the OP take the car to a shop, replaced the vehicle.  All of which I have personally experienced when I rented from crappy Alamo and low ended Budget.

        By calling AAA instead Dollar, the OP prevented Dollar from exercising any of those remedies.  The lack of a spare is unimportant       

    2.  The manager is NOT a liar.  Most Elantra’s do NOT come with a spare, so I think she can be forgiven for thinking that none of them do.

  2. It would be important enough to me.  The arrogance of the Dollar company is overwhelming.  I expect a car in good working order.  

  3. How funny – they charged me for getting a flat tire in Ireland as “damage to car”.  I believe that was Dollar, too.  Perhaps the guy should simply be happy he wasn’t charged.

    1.  Charging for things like flat tires and cracked windshields is pretty standard amongst rental companies.  I guess if I owned a rental agency, I’d charge too.  You, renter, are responsible for all physical damage that happens to your car during the rental, even if it isn’t your fault.  (They do, however, cover mechanical breakdown, and will also usually provide roadside assistance.)

      1. Ah well – in this case it was my fault – I drove over the curb to make a U-turn (as I saw the Irish doing).  So I figured it was my just desserts.

    2. I rented from Hertz in Ireland, had a flat and was responsible for replacing the tire. I didn’t get charged for vehicle damage but felt wronged when Hertz couldn’t provide the roadside assistance they promised because we were “too far away” (rented in Dublin, flat in Galway). At least we had a donut to get us to the tire shop (of which there are many!)

  4. I would have been shocked too, but after reading this post and searching the web a bit, I now know that many cars no longer come with spare tires. I think it’s poor customer service to sell or rent a car without a spare, but if it’s becoming standard practice, I’m not sure there’s a place for you to mediate. And as you note, the customer should have called the rental agency, not AAA. Good customer sevice would be for the agency to refund a day’s rental anyway, but you can’t hold them to good service, just decency.

  5. The customer should have called Dollar when he got the flat before calling AAA to find out what they wanted to do about it. By not calling them, he didn’t give them the option of fixing the problem without him losing a day of use out of the car. Additionally, Googling seems to reveal that the manager was not lying. The new Elantras don’t come with a spare, and it appears you cannot even order one separately and put it in your car yourself. They don’t make a spare tire for the new Elantras. The car manual may have been printed before they made that decision, or there may be one specific version of the car that you can get a donut for, but in general they include a can of fix a flat and an air compressor.

  6. So, he did not check to see if there was a spare prior to leaving the car rental lot. That can lead to a lot of problems upon the return. If one checks for a spare plus tools prior to leaving the lot, no problem, it one checks and the spare and tools are missing regardless of the reason this should be noted on the paper you have for dents and scratches etc. other wise you could be in for bill for the tire and or tools when you return. I always check to make sure that the spare and tools are in the trunk. Just part of the overall vehicle check.

    1. Really?  Checking for tools and a spare.  Seems a bit exessive and unwarranted given than a reputable car rental lot will take care of a flat.  What’s next, checking the oil and other fluids, tire pressure, battery leads?

      I”d rather rent from a reputable company.

      1.  If you want a spare, then yes, you better check.  Many cars these days (including most, if not all Elantras) do not come with a spare tire from the factory.

      2.  And if a reputable car rental lot will take care of a flat, call them, not AAA. If OP wanted the rental company to take care if if, OP should have contacted them.

          1. The example was of a business traveler who encountered a tire change warning light.  What makes you think this was her fault?

            She was instructed to drive 35 miles to the nearest Avis location or replace the tire at her own expense.  Because she didn’t purchase the Road SafetyNet feature.

          2. If they refuse to come to help you then they won’t charge you 🙂

            I believe you are referring to mechanical issues, etc. which the reputable companies still assist with for free.

            I’d love to be wrong, but my reading of the article and the example (and what I’ve heard anecdotally) is that flat tire service is no longer free with any rental company.  

            [Not to mention, how would a roadside assistance operator be able to judge whether a flat tire was the “driver’s fault”?]

      3. Carver.  Yes, it might be a good idea to check the oil.  There was a story on here, a while back, where a rental company wanted several thousand dollars for engine damage, even though the renter called both GM (it was an on-star equipped vehicle) and the rental company when the check engine light came on.

    2. he did not check to see if there was a spare prior to leaving the car rental lot

      If you want to turn this into a “caveat emptor” world, soon we’ll need to hire our own mechanic for half a day to thoroughly  inspect every internal part before we can safely sign any rental agreement and drive off.

      Half-way through reading the article, I was anticipating that the manager would blame the OP and hold him responsible for the “missing” spare.  At least I was pleasantly semi-surprised that this story didn’t take THAT turn.

  7. Did the OP really lose a day’s rental? The story isn’t clear as to when he finally did call Dollar. He says the garage was closed by the time he got there. Does that mean that it happened towards evening and he got a replacement the very next morning? Or would Dollar have still been open when he got the flat and therefore able to provide him with a replacement immediately? I think that’s the crux. If he called and there was no replacement, then Dollar owes him credit. If he didn’t call until morning, then that’s too bad. Bummer!

    1.  How about also updating the story to also reflect the fact that most Elantras, do not, in fact, come with a spare tire?  (Some googling of “Elantra spare tire” reveals this.)

      1.  That is correct. I have a 2011 Elantra Limited, top of the line, and it does not come with a spare. It came with an air compressor in the trunk. So, Dollar did not provide a car without a spare because it never had it.

        1. I have to wonder what good an air compressor does you when the tire won’t hold air.  I’d sell the air compressor and use that money to buy a donut tire.

  8. I gridginglyu voted yes because although I think it was stupid to call AAA instead of the rental company when his tyre went flat, I think he seserves some sort of credit or refund for not having provided him with a spare tyre.

  9. I voted yes.
    I think he should’ve called Dollar before AAA, but the attitude of the Dollar “manager” really bothers me here. It’s a small amount of money and her excuses are just downright laughable. She should’ve apologized and given him the day’s fee he requested.

    …and how often do I side with the company? So that just tells you something.

  10. I voted yes on this one, I know it’s a small amount, but there is no excuse for the manager’s behavior and Dollars stubbornness. Renting a car without a necessary safety feature does result in the loss of use to the customer, and I feel they should get something for their lost time.  Besides, wouldn’t Dollar want to have a spare tire to protect their car?  Imagine someone finds no spare, so they just drive on the rim?
    I also find it hard to believe that it doesn’t come with a spare, especially since there was a space for a spare.  Others have mentioned they come with fix-a-flat, does anyone know if the OP had fix-a-flat at least?  I am shocked Hyundai would just throw in a can of fix a flat instead of a spare since fix-a-flat does not fix very many flats. And only for a short time if it actually does work, at least in my experience.
    I have been in the customer’s situation twice.  One time I rented with Hertz and got a flat tire about 2 miles after driving off the lot. In fact, on the lot I told them the “Low Tire Pressure” light was on and they told me it was malfunctioning and to ignore it, that the car was fine.  Two miles later the car starts pulling and I pull over, the tire was completely empty.  I called Hertz and they pretty much said too bad, not their problem.  I put on the spare and got the tire fixed which Discount Tire did at no cost to me.  I thought that was very nice of them.  I complained to Hertz as it took several hours, unfortunately it went nowhere.  The next time was with Avis in Mexico, I was driving to my hotel and the tire went flat.  I put on the spare, called Avis. They asked me what hotel and told me to leave the keys with the concierge and they would come fix it.  A few hours later the concierge called me and said they had keys to my new car.  When I left later, they had replaced the beat up ford escort with a new VW Passat!  I prefer the way Avis handled it.

    1.  Elantras don’t come with a spare. They come with an air compressor in the trunk. I know. I have a 2011 Elantra GLS Limited and it does not come with a spare.

  11. I only voted yes because I do not believe that a car should be rented without a spare tire. However by having the repair done and incurring expenses without contacting the car rental he really didn’y help his case since the company had no opportunity to make it right.

  12. Forty years ago, I remember Dollar being a horrible company to deal with. Apparently, it still is. Think of it as being the Carnival of the car-rental business.

  13. I was initially outraged that the car didn’t come with a spare tire.  But upon reflecting, I realized that was simply a knee jerk reaction on my part.  The spare is really completely irrelevant.

    The car rental’s duty is to make sure that you have a fully working car.  And if the car breaks down, which cars will do, that the rental company will either fix the problem or replace the car.  Both can be done without a spare tire in the car

    1. Agreed. And now with the update that the OP states he was allowed to take a different car, I think I’m going to change my vote to “No.”

      1. Maybe the company should give him a pro-rated refund for the number of hours he was without the car?  I mean, the company will charge you for extra hours, why shouldn’t it go both ways?

  14. I’m kind of torn on this.

    In some respects, I understand not including a spare (especially in a car that apparently frequently comes without a spare).  The idea is the rental company wants you to call them, so you can use their repair/maintenance services, instead or racking up a bill you will present to them upon returning the car.  (Not that some of them don’t deserve it, considering how they will charge you tons for body work that isn’t your fault.)

    And it protects them from liability if someone gets hurt during the tire-change process. The OP should definitely have contacted Dollar first to see what procedure should be followed.

    On the other hand – if the customer has a service they already pay for (like AAA), then no cost is accrued by the rental agency when a customer has the tire changed.

    In any respect, for such a small amount of money – the $37 for a single day’s cost – was not an outrageous request, and a good CR rep should have gone ahead and refunded that.  The obstinant response by Dollar makes no sense here.

  15. I’m conflicted on this one. The OP didn’t allow the rental company to fix the issue with the car so he really blame them for loss of use. It also appears that the car no longer comes with a spare (as a former GM engineer, the continued space for a spare and its elimination both make since in the really odd world of vehicle engineering) for every trim level. Dollar also got him a replacement vehicle within about 18 hours not great but considering he didn’t go through their channels understandable.

    Having said that … I have had a rental vehicle that broke down and they expected me to take the time to get it fixed without compensation. I wasn’t really happy either.

    If he had called their roadside assistance to fix the flat and lost the car’s use, I’d agree to the loss of use but he decided to have it fixed on his own and at that point, he assumed responsibilty for its loss of use.

    Here’s an LA Times article about no spare in the Elantra:


    1. The OP didn’t allow the rental company to fix the issue with the car

      Unless the OP paid extra for Dollar’s “RoadSafe” service (which would make little sense if he’s already subscribed to AAA roadside service), then Dollar’s rental contracts state that flat tire’s (et. al.) are the customer’s responsibility.

      A little disingenuous to blame the customer for failing to call a service that he had no rights to make use of.  Maybe he should have called customer service, but if this was after business hours then he would have been unable to speak to anyone until the following day.

      1. The various service charges in the article that you posted only applied if the OP was at fault.  Assuming the OP is innocent then he had every right to call and use the service for free.

        As far as customer service, I’d be unpleasantly surprised if it wasn’t open 24 hour given the realities of renting a car,

        1. Dollar’s contract refers to the “RoadSafe” program, which is an option that must be chosen at pick up.

          In fact, when I’ve rented from Dollar, agents repeatedly tried to up-sell me the “RoadSafe” option, with the dire warning that I was on my own if I got a flat tire etc. and didn’t purchase this option.

          Dollar Customer service is available 7:30am to 7pm CT (unless that’s changed recently).  Outside of those hours, you can call to make a new reservation, call a rental location that is open (often hard to reach a live human being though), or call roadside (and they generally demand your credit card if you haven’t paid for “RoadSafe”).

  16. I was siding with Dollar on this one due to the OP taking matters into his own hands when it came to repairing the tire.  Like you said, Chris, he should have called Dollar first, not AAA.

    However – 

    The moment the rental agent started in with all the prevarications, Dollar lost me.  They should just give the guy his one day’s rental fee back, get spares for the Elantra rentals they have and move on.

    I can’t stand being led on and treated like I’m clueless and consider it to be disrespectful.

  17. First I’d like to say, you get what you pay for. Dollar is one of THE cheapest car rental agencies. Their cars are usually well used and not in the best of shape. That being said, you’d think they would at least consider customer service important. You want people to use you again and refer you to friends and family. Yes, he should have called them before calling AAA. But, he didn’t. It doesn’t sounds like that was a concern of Dollar’s anyway. At the very least, they should compensate him for the day lost of using the car while the tire was being repaired. I can’t believe that they are letting $37 get a customer so angered that he let’s the world know what idiots they are. Chris, I say mediate just on principle alone!

  18. I wasn’t really all that aware of that many new cars without spares.  I’d certainly heard of some sporty cars (especially the new Mini Cooper and Lotus Elise) come with run-flats rather than spares.  I had a coworker who had one of those, and put on some higher performance tires that weren’t run-flats.  He said he’d just stuff a couple of cans of fix-a-flat in the trunk, although I’m not sure that would do any good if he ended up shredding a tire on the freeway (I’ve personally been there).  Basically any new tire is going shred the sidewalls if driven for a few seconds after a blow-out at freeway speeds.

    I’m not even sure that a whole lot of rental agencies would want their customers to be fixing flats themselves, especially with compact spares and some of the new cars in rental fleets.  A compact spare is usually rated for up to 50 MPH.  It’s generally safe to use one indefinitely as far as the tire is concerned, but it’s a lousy ride with funky handling, and how many renters will actually stick to the limited speeds?  However, they always come with limited tread (might be good for a few thousand miles) and shouldn’t be used for long trips.  There are some vehicles which shouldn’t be driven long term on a compact spare – especially many AWD cars.  The Subarus with electronic automatic transmissions (and I’ve rented one before) are notoriously fussy.  Some even come with a place in the fuse box to plug in a fuse that puts the transmission in front-wheel drive mode to prevent damage to the transfer case.  Then there are limited slip differentials which will make all sorts of noise if a compact spare is placed on the same axle; I’ve personally experienced that.

    Still – when one has a flat tire in a rental, the first thing to do is contact the rental agency.  They will fix it.  Once one does something else, then it gets into strange things between the customer and the rental agency over what is the responsibility for later repairs.  For instance, using a fix-a-flat style repair may cost over $100 to clean out that junk from the wheels.  Throw in that all new cars come with tire-pressure monitoring systems, and that could be really expensive just to do it yourself.

    1. Our local tire shops will only allow all 4 tires to be replaced at same time (and kind) if you drive a Subaru, Audi, or Acuras, etc. that have a sophisticated AWD. I have a Subaru Outback AWD with the CVT transmission. Not sure what to do if I get a flat. My Prius is probably just as bad (not to mention the tiny auxiliary battery that usually fails). I never question paying for my AAA membership.

      1. When the tire blew on my WRX, the service writer came out and measured the remaining tread depth left in all my tires with a gauge.  He looked up the original tread depth and noted that it would be acceptable to replace the blown tire with a new one.

        The other reason why he was checking the tread depth was to check out the blown tire.  The place I got my tires from has a pro-rated replacement warranty included in the cost of installation.  He determined that I had at least 75% remaining useful tread left (original to 3/32″) and gave me 75% credit towards a new tire.  It would have been about $145 just to replace a single tire and I got the replacement for about $50 installed.  They had to get it shipped from another store, so I was driving around on a compact spare for a day and a half until I could come in.  In addition to that, they rotate for free (not unusual) and rebalanced the other tires (which is unusual).

        There is a certain tolerance for tire differences.  I’m not even sure how anyone can get that close consistently.  I’ve ordered tires, and there have been issues where one tire was from another warehouse.  It could be from a different production run or even a different factory – even if it’s the same model and size.  There are variations in size even within the same production run.  I’m not sure how one is supposed to be so precise.  In the end I don’t know if it’s really worth shaving a tire given these differences.

          1. I’ve had tire shops tell me that my best option was to replace all four tires. This was a place that I trusted. They owner was there, and said that if my other tires didn’t have an unusual wear on the inside tread, he would have recommended getting a tire shaved. Tire shaving is usually reserved for special racing tires, although he says he’s had it done to replace an unrepairable tire on other Subarus and match the tread depth to the other tires.

  19. It’s Dollar rent a car, people.  Is anyone at all surprised?  Spend a few extra dollars to rent from Hertz or Avis or roll the dice.

  20. One time I rented a car from Rent-A-Wreck, (I know..) and the interior wall of the tire exploded. Even that car had a spare! We changed it to a spare and got a new tire. They reimbursed me for the tire I paid for. 

  21. “Dollar offered him a replacement car. Gershman decided to take the matter up with Dollar when he returned it.”

    I voted no.

  22. You have to wonder about the decision making capabilities of the OP…
    First he decides to “cheap out” by renting from Dollar…comeon…if you want to rent a car with all the bells and whistles, don’t get a car from Dollar!
    Then calling AAA instead of the car rental company? I have to ask why? Where was the thought process on *THAT* decision?
    I’m a great proponent of “stupidity needs to be punnished” or otherwise it will propagate infinitum!

  23. I have 2 comments:

    First, if you wait for an UPDATE, you get a better idea or picture about what is going on.

    Second, what exactly was the DAMAGE here? Is he saying that if there was a spare in the car, he would not have wasted a day fixing the flat tire?

    I am not sure I can agree with him. If the car had a donut spare, he still could not use it to drive around and do his business. It’s designed to be used to take you to a shop and get the original tire repaired (only). IMO the only difference is he wouldn’t have had to call AAA but he would need to jack the car up and replace the tire.

    There are more and more smaller cars now that come with no spares. In my family, I am the only one who knows how to change a tire (and jump a battery). We all have AAA because it is SAFER to simply drive the car off the road and wait for a professional to fix it (rather than get run-over by another car). AAA is a necessity today.

    1. Compact spares are designed around certain design limits, but they’re actually safe to ride on as long as there’s adequate tread and one stays under the speed rating (usually 50 MPH).  It’s not ideal for everyday driving and could cause damage in certain vehicles if used too long, but they can be used for more than just getting to a tire shop.

      I recently shredded a tire after it blew at freeway speeds.  I hit the hazard lights immediately and drove slowly to an off ramp where there was a wide shoulder.  I had one person stop to close her hood (I think she accidentally opened it), and she asked me if I needed any help.  The really strange thing was that a Freeway Service Patrol vehicle saw me right as I was finishing installing the compact spare and sort of smiled since he knew I was already done.  For those who don’t know, the Freeway Patrol are contractors paid for by the California Dept of Transportation, the CHP, and local agencies to help people with quick repairs – especially flats.  They don’t accept payment (not even tips) and their main duties are replacing flats and helping cars out of gas.

    2. Is he saying that if there was a spare in the car, he would not have wasted a day fixing the flat tire?  I am not sure I can agree with him

      Depends how far away from the nearest Dollar location he was.   If not too far, he could (for example) have driven himself  the ~10 miles to his lodging that evening and driven in for a car exchange in the morning.

      Granted, that might have saved him 4 to 5 hours (not 24 hours). (If he was in the vicinity of an airport location open late, then possibly he could also have had use of a vehicle for a couple of additional hours the previous evening).

      1. If the Rental Car office was near and open, a simple call to them MIGHT make them come pick you up with a swap in hand. I think he may have called AAA because it was his best option (distance, time, situation). I would think the question should be – if you get a flat tire and your rental company was not in a position to help you [and you can’t fix it because there was no spare tire], what would be a reasonable compensation for your disruption?

        1. I agree that the question you pose at the end is the relevant one.  Maybe credit for half a day is “reasonable?”  I don’t know.  It’s not a huge amount regardless.  It would be nice if they gave renters a heads-up about the lack of a spare.

          FWIW, in my experience, most rental locations (especially these days) are minimally staffed and extremely loathe to send an employee off-site to arrange a swap. (Actually they need 2 employees to complete a vehicle swap off-site.  Otherwise they’re just picking you up and bringing you back to the rental location).

  24. Car rental fleets buying is a total different animal than purchasing a car. In order to keep prices down, many options are deleted that might be normal on a personal purchase. Why they did not call Dollar, should go onto to your…..are you kidding me? file.

  25. My feeling is that the OP calling AAA first, instead of Dollar, is offset by Dollar’s attitude.  However, as J seems to be the only other one to point out, he turned down a replacement car.  End of story — he made his bed, and he has to lie in it.

    Slightly off topic but relevant to Dollar’s “cheapness”: how many remember that Dollar took its name from its original rental rate (a dollar a day)?

  26. Well, if he turned down a replacement I think he was preparing to argue for a refund of some kind. That said though, I think it is fair to assume that your car has a spare and why does there have to be a law for everything? Common sense and just doing the right thing would save a lot of time and money!

  27. It is quite common for cars these days to not come with a spare tire.  I
    don’t agree with the decision, but it is true nonetheless.  To save on
    weight, more and more carmakers are substituting a can of fix-a-flat and
    an air compressor in place of the traditional spare and jack.

  28. Well, the air compressor is a joke in a car with a hole in the tire – and the tire industry strongly recommends that you do NOT use those tire sealants since it can cause a hazardous situation when the tire is taken off the rim. 

    You ALWAYS call the rental company break down service first.  Give them the chance to do the right thing – you need to pin them down on their steps but they probably just have a contract with a company like AAA and it might actually be leasing their network. 

    However, the issue is still going to be a bureaucratic response that will take literally hours.  Even with a tire problem like here they’ll dispatch a truck – to ‘make sure it does not just need air.’  That then results in step 2-  leading to Step 24 which is probably getting you a new vehicle. 

    Remember that you are probably going to get billed for the service call these days – especially for a flat tire that ‘every car rental company treats as something you did.’

    1. AAA works through contractors.  There are other auto clubs out there that aren’t as well known as AAA, and I’m pretty sure that they sometimes contract with the same contractors. 

  29. I looked it up, and apparently Dollar likely charges extra for roadside assistance, although their language makes it sound like it could be at no additional charge depending on location.

    “The cost, coverage, provider, availability and terms of RoadSafe may vary from location to location. Please inquire at the counter for additional information. By signing at the beginning of the rental that you accept the RoadSafe option, you will be charged an additional daily charge, as specified on the rental agreement, for each full and/or partial day you rent the car.”

    I believe most other car rental companies include roadside assistance with the cost of rental.

    Avis charges:

    Enterprise apparently charges for it at a flat rate of $3.99/day.  however, they have an information page that says nothing about the charge.  I think if someone doesn’t pay for it and uses the roadside assistance, then they make arrangements and bill the customer.

  30. We bought an Elantra in October and were not told by the salesman that there was no spare tire. Before 500 miles was on the car it had a blow out and my wife called me to come change the tire. I said sure and drove to where she was and opened the trunk and discovered there was no spare tire. What I did find was a tire inflation kit which is absolutely useless when you have a blowout.  Called a phone number for a towing service supplied by Elantra dealer.  The vehicle was towed approximately 30 miles and when I arrived I discovered that they had no tires to replace the one that had blown and which was useless.  They had to order a tire from KC, Missouri for me and that took a few days.  In the meantime they were nice enough to provide me a vehicle to drive until such time as it took to get the new tire.  We didn’t have to pay to replace the tire but we did have to pay for the “spare” tire we purchased..

  31. Just spoke with our fleet purchasing manager and confirmed that many of the new Elantras are not coming with spares, as was noted here.
    We even fleeted a number of Saab 95’s, luxury cars, and found they came with a plug in compressor pump, and not a spare. Spare’s are apparently now not always included, and not having one also allows the manufacturer to pad their MPG number a bit.

    I voted not to mediate because the car rental company is renting what the manufacturer produced.  If Dollar had ordered these cars specifically without spares, like Enterprise did with Malibu’s without side airbags a few years ago, then I’d agree this isn’t consumer friendly. 
    Under the circumstances I sympathize with the customer but think the
    beef is with Hyundai.

  32. Rental cars dont have spares, if you get a flat you call the road side assistance and they have a tow truck bring you a new car. They dont need the liability of someone getting hurt changing a tire. leave it to the profesionals.

  33. How long would it take the people repairing the tire to do the repair? I’ve had tires repaired before, and it only took 30 minutes or so. Why did he need to get a rental car? Why not just wait for it?
    On a different subject, but still regarding a rental car problem: When travelling in Ireland two years ago, the Hertz people told us when we got the car that they were not responsible for fixing/replacing blowouts, so if we had one, we had to replace/repair it. Guess because of the roads there, they do get a lot of blowouts. Well, we had not one, but two blowouts, and it was the same wheel tire each time. Evidentally, according to the guy who replaced it the second time, the first place we replaced it had used a USED tire and didn’t inform us of that! Rather unethical, since we asked in the first place if he happened to have a used tire rather than a new one, and he stated that they didn’t have one in the correct size. But at least there WAS a spare temporary-use tire in the vehicle to get us from the countryside to a garage for the repairs. Those Irish men in the countryside are very friendly and assisted us (actually, they did all the work) with taking the flat off and putting the spare on very congenially.
    I think it’s rather raunchy that Hertz would not be responsible for the replacements though. It’s not like we did anything to make them “pop” in each case. But I guess they must have a lot of those claims and decided not to honor them. And they DID explicitly tell us prior to leaving the lot with the car that they were not responsible for blowouts/flat tires, so don’t call them if we get one. The two replacement tires cost us nearly $300 (they were small tires).

  34. An auditor just had a similar experience. He got a flat in an Alamo rental car. Called the company, they said it wasn’t covered under his rental contract because he had not purchased roadside assistance, even though he had purchased insurance. A nice guy at the company he was auditing searched around and found a used tire for him. No spare, no jack, no tire iron. Had to tow the car to a tire place. Alamo said they didn’t have a spare because of liability issues. In other words, some shmuck must have messed up when he was trying to change a tire, hurt himself and sued the company. Now none of us get a spare tire.

  35. I read the above article and am interested to see what will happen to me in a few days… while my car was fortunate enough to have a spare tire -Toyota FourRunner (also rented from Dollar) I am curious if they charge me for the tire itself?

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