What should you check before driving a rental car? – Boston 25 News

More and more people are hitting the road and traveling again, increasing the demand for rental cars. When a driver pays dearly for a rental, they expect to be safe. But if you want to be sure that the car is well maintained, you might want to do a few more steps on your own.

Regina and Briyelle Houston rented a 2020 Infiniti from Enterprise for a girls’ trip to Atlanta. On the way home, the women said the car started to have problems. They could see smoke coming out from under the hood.

“We were scared,” Briyelle said.

“Every time I talk about it, I get a little emotional because we were in the middle of nowhere,” Regina said.

The women said Enterprise covered the cost for them to bring an Uber home, but said they believed the company should never have rented the vehicle in the first place.

“I just don’t want anyone else to be put in this situation because you never know if you’ll get through it,” Briyelle said. “Anything could have happened to us.

Jason Stoogenke, a reporter at sister station Boston 25 in Charlotte, has learned firsthand some of the issues that can arise when renting a car. Stoogenke noticed a bulge on one of the tires in the car he rented from Enterprise. He contacted the company and was referred to a mechanic. Enterprise paid for the repair, but over the next 24 hours, he noticed other issues with the car: warning lights came on for low tire pressure, an inspection date, and an oil change.

Stoogenke contacted Enterprise again and an agent told him they would give him another car.

Federal law requires car rental companies to have recalls repaired. Rental vehicles registered in Massachusetts must also undergo annual inspections. But routine vehicle maintenance, like oil changes and tire rotations, is often at the discretion of car rental companies.

Jason Levine of the Center for Auto Safety said, “Car rental companies have a real financial incentive not to put you in a vehicle that is not well maintained.

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A representative of the American Car Rental Association, which represents 98% of car rental companies in the United States, said it is in the best interests of companies to maintain vehicles, so that they retain their value when companies resell them.

But, they added, “There is no industry standard for such maintenance.”

“Each company probably has its own detailed policies regarding routine maintenance,” the representative said.

An Enterprise representative issued the following statement:

“All of our rental vehicles follow a regular maintenance program based on the requirements recommended by the manufacturer. Rental fleet vehicles also receive visual inspections between each rental for safety features, such as tires and warning lights, as well as vehicle condition change.

“In Ms. Houston’s case, the pre-rental inspection showed that the vehicle had no warning lights, was not leaking fluids, and showed no signs of a maintenance problem. There is no clear reason for the damage to the engine, and the repair was warranted by the vehicle manufacturer. We apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customer.

“In [Stoogenke’s] In this case, the vehicle was still within 1,000 miles of the need for an oil change and service, however, in this particular model, the service lights come on before service. is due, giving vehicle owners ample time to bring their vehicle to the shop for inspection and maintenance. Based on mileage, this vehicle would likely have been flagged in our system for an oil change / service within the next two weeks, depending on rental activity.

“Regarding the tire, the salesperson who serviced the vehicle indicated that there was an impact bubble on the tire you referenced, and the tire was replaced. The other three tires were good. It is not known if the bubble was there during the visual inspection when you and the employee walked around the vehicle prior to rental (as is our protocol). If this was the case, it is possible that it was not noticed during the visual inspection or that it had enlarged as a result of an impact (a pothole, debris from the road, etc.).

“Nevertheless, the safety of our customers is our top priority, and we never want to disturb our customers. That’s why we keep our vehicles on strict maintenance schedules as per their manufacturer’s requirements. However, as with any vehicle, problems can arise on the road and that is why we offer our customers 24 hour roadside assistance.

Some tips to follow when renting a car:

  • Ask the company if they have a policy on routine maintenance and ask to read it.
  • Take a tour of the car and check for maintenance issues such as the tire tread in addition to cosmetic damage such as dents and scratches.
  • Drive the car around the parking lot for a few minutes to make sure that no lights come on.
  • Report any minor issues you notice, even when you return the vehicle.

AAA told Boston 25 News that these steps are more important than ever because a shortage of new cars means rental companies will have to keep vehicles in rotation longer than in previous years.

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