Hawaii Mom Blog: Documenting Rental Cars




June 4, 2024

Documenting Rental Cars

In addition to always checking the VIN when we rent a vehicle, I take videos and photos of everything - the inside, the outside, the tires, the top of the car . . . it wasn't something I usually did until a former co-worker told me years ago it's something she does (document everything) whenever she rents a car, so I decided to start that practice too.

And I do it both before we drive off the lot, as well as after we drop the car off and get our receipt.

Way back when, I would initially only take photos and videos of big scratches, dents, and other things that were already on the vehicle that may be questionable.  But now I also take photos and videos as I walk around the car, and I also document the inside of the car - even if there is nothing notable.

Fortunately, we've had nearly no issues on all of our car rental experiences around the world, but the documentation helped tremendously on a recent trip, where a rental car company tried to bill us for "tire damage."

We were in the middle of a road trip the day after picking up our car, and got a "low tire pressure" warning.

Something was wrong with the valve, and despite filling the tire, the air kept escaping.  It seemed to be an easy fix, had we been near an auto shop, or even an auto supply store, but we ended up calling the car rental company to advise of the issue.  We really had a hard time getting through anyone (even the local number on our contract was inoperable), and I talked to 4 different agents before finally getting guidance on what to do.  We had to arrange for a vehicle swap since there was nothing we could do except to swap the tire out with the spare tire and drive to the nearest rental car agency, which was an hour away. 

There was no damage to the tire or the valve, but we ended up getting a bill to pay for "tire damage" two months later.  There was no explanation of what the "damage" was, what was required to fix the "damage," and the date of the rental was incorrect as well.

I was not happy about this, for obvious reasons, especially after the 3 hour ordeal we went through in trying to reach someone who could offer guidance and find a rental location for us to swap out the car.  

Thankfully, I had documented everything, and had photos and videos of the original tires (the one that caused us issues was different from the other tires, and looked as if it was replaced earlier), the tire that we had to replace, and videos of the leaky valve.

The company ended up refunding us after I sent all the documentation.

On a different trip for work (and a different rental car company), we had a a low tire pressure warning signal that came on right as we left the lot.  After finding somewhere to park to check the tires, we saw a nail in one of them.  We were able to swap the car, no questions asked, after advising the manager that we found a nail in the tire, and we never got billed.

Whatever your situation - I highly recommend documenting everything on your car to prevent erroneous charges.

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