Broken tail light noted after arriving at hotel - next steps?

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Jan 17, 2019
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#1
We rented a minivan from Budget in Houston. After travelling with 3 cranky kids we picked up a rental van at the airport. We have good car insurance and some credit card protection as well, I believe, so we waived the additional insurance.

There was no agent in the lot to do a walkaround inspection. We didn’t realize that we should have taken photos (we very rarely rent cars and were expecting a form to mark up with damages as we had done in the past). We drove to the exit thinking the inspection would be done there, but we were waved through.

We drove off and when we arrived at our hotel we saw that there was a damaged tail light. We called the rental company and explained the situation (also of note was that the van had the low pressure light on and a warning about low tire pressure, the mileage was higher than expected at 33K miles, and the tires seem to have terrible grip on wet pavement, possibly due to being in need of replacement).

We photographed all the issues. When we spoke to someone in customer service, they were apologetic, offered a coupon for a future rental and opened a case file for us, requesting our photos. We sent that all to them. They never indicated that our word was accepted, just that they would open an investigation to see if prior returns had indicated there was damage to the tail light, etc.

My questions are:

What do we do upon returning the vehicle? Are we to state the claim ID and hope they respect our documentation of the issues and they take our word?

Or, do we use your letter template to contest the damages if/when the time comes that we get the bill? It is the opposite scenario from the one you describe - we know there is damage and we have informed them of the damage already, but want to be sure we are not held liable for damage we didn’t cause.

Any help is much appreciated.

Thank you.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,738
15,353
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
As soon as you noted the low pressure light on you should have turned around and brought that car back. Are you still driving it with the light on? If the engine is damaged by continuing to drive it they are going to blame the damage on you.
 
Likes: ouisita
Jan 17, 2019
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#3
It is the indicator for the tires not the engine. We are at a hotel a ways away from the airport. I was hoping we could just put more air in the tires in the morning.
 

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
1,055
1,318
113
#4
Unfortunately I agree with Neil - take the car back this morning and take pictures of everything with the agent in the photos. And get a signed copy of the damage report which notes everything.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,738
15,353
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#5
I thought you had two lights on the dash, not just the tire light. Put air in the tire and see if it goes off. Hopefully there isn’t a nail in the tire that is causing a slow leak- if your are doesn’t include tire coverage they may try and hit you for the tire too.

Did you see the cracked tail light when you picked up the car? You are sure nothing might have happened when you drove- a rock kicked up, etc?

If you’ve already filed the incident report , I would tell them when you return it especially if they notice the light.

There is nothing to contest at this point. They aren’t coming after you yet. You did the right thing by filing a report right away.

We have a post on how to protect yourself when renting. In the future, get an employee out of the booth to mark your report or mention it to the person in the booth when you leave and demand they mark your copy of the rental agreement for every single ding and scratch. I’ve done it both ways.

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-protect-yourself-when-renting-a-car.1314/
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,833
7,670
113
San Francisco
#6
I can't speak to any of the warning lights on your dash. But if you didn't inspect the thing before departing, you really have no proof that the tailight was broken when you picked it up. So you may not be able to evade responsiblity for that damage. Since you have insurance, I'd wait until you return the van and tell them it was broken when you arrived at the hotel. They may or may not bill you for the damage. At that point you can turn it over to your insurance carrier. If you have any issues with the engine, I agree with my colleagues ... you should return it and get another vehicle.
 
Jan 17, 2019
4
0
1
41
#7
I can't speak to any of the warning lights on your dash. But if you didn't inspect the thing before departing, you really have no proof that the tailight was broken when you picked it up. So you may not be able to evade responsiblity for that damage. Since you have insurance, I'd wait until you return the van and tell them it was broken when you arrived at the hotel. They may or may not bill you for the damage. At that point you can turn it over to your insurance carrier. If you have any issues with the engine, I agree with my colleagues ... you should return it and get another vehicle.
We rented a minivan from Budget in Houston. After travelling with 3 cranky kids we picked up a rental van at the airport. We have good car insurance and some credit card protection as well, I believe, so we waived the additional insurance.

There was no agent in the lot to do a walkaround inspection. We didn’t realize that we should have taken photos (we very rarely rent cars and were expecting a form to mark up with damages as we had done in the past). We drove to the exit thinking the inspection would be done there, but we were waved through.

We drove off and when we arrived at our hotel we saw that there was a damaged tail light. We called the rental company and explained the situation (also of note was that the van had the low pressure light on and a warning about low tire pressure, the mileage was higher than expected at 33K miles, and the tires seem to have terrible grip on wet pavement, possibly due to being in need of replacement).

We photographed all the issues. When we spoke to someone in customer service, they were apologetic, offered a coupon for a future rental and opened a case file for us, requesting our photos. We sent that all to them. They never indicated that our word was accepted, just that they would open an investigation to see if prior returns had indicated there was damage to the tail light, etc.

My questions are:

What do we do upon returning the vehicle? Are we to state the claim ID and hope they respect our documentation of the issues and they take our word?

Or, do we use your letter template to contest the damages if/when the time comes that we get the bill? It is the opposite scenario from the one you describe - we know there is damage and we have informed them of the damage already, but want to be sure we are not held liable for damage we didn’t cause.

Any help is much appreciated.

Thank you.
Hi again. I have a follow up question - what is the typical response time by rental agencies if they have an issue to rectify? We returned our rental after our trip and no one made any mention of the taillight, etc. It's been 3 weeks now and I'm wondering when/if I can put this all behind us. What do they typically do? Thank you.