When you rent a car, you often have no choice in what you get. Regardless of what you reserve, the rental car agency will change if they wish based on availability. However, many times you can pick your rental car from a few choices on the day you pick it up. Our advice is to try to get one that has a spare tire.
A new study by Finance Buzz found that over one in five car renters report having a flat tire during renting. 21% reported the problem. While that may seem high, we know from past dialogues with AAA and others that roadside assistance groups handle roughly the same number of tire-related assistance trips per year as there are cars on the road. If you haven’t had a flat lately, be glad. Your time is almost up.
Among all of the problems experienced by renters, getting a flat tire was at the very top of the list.
Here are some other findings the Finance Buzz investigation discovered:
-1 in 6 people have changed or canceled vacation plans because of high prices or lack of rental car availability.
-Nearly 1 in 4 renters (24%) admit to smoking cigarettes in a rental car. 11% admitted to smoking marijuana.
-40% of renters pay for rental car insurance provided by the rental company. 26% pay with a credit card that covers the cost of rental car insurance.
-21% of car renters say they’ve been unable to figure out how to fully operate basic car features (wipers, lights, etc.).
The Finance Buzz survey asked about 1,000 renters to provide feedback on their experience renting in the last year. While this is certainly not the definitive survey of its type, it provides a great look at what problems renters encounter when they rent.
So how can you know if a car has a spare tire or not? Simply Google it. We can tell you that nearly all electric vehicles and sports models have ditched the spare. For example, no Tesla models have a spare tire. Mainstream vehicles like a Toyota RAV4 or Nissan Rogue are much more likely to have a spare in the trunk should you need it. Why do you need the spare? Sure, the rental car agency may be able to help you. Eventually. But a spare gives you the option of calling AAA and getting back on the road quickly.
If you have rented a car recently, tell us what challenges you encountered in our comments section below.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin