Complete Tire Separation on Rental Now Alamo billing me for $805.00

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Feb 20, 2019
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I rented a 2019 Kia Optima on 9-21-18 from John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Orange County, CA. On 9-30-18, while driving the 73 Toll Highway, the tire light came on (dashboard). NOTE: no other light came on or was on, in the dashboard. I then began to make my way over to the right hand emergency lane. I got out of the rental, walked around it and found the front right passenger tire had completely separated. That is, the tread part was completely gone, while the jagged tire sidewall remained on the rim. It was a clear day, no debris on the road and almost no traffic on the toll road I am driving on. I was grateful that a CHP (Calif. Hwy. Patrol) saw me and stayed with me the entire time I was there. I called Alamo right away, and they sent a tow truck out. The tow truck driver first went to the trunk to find a spare, but there was none. So he had to tow the rental. I did take a picture (see attached) of the tire, as I'd never seen anything like this before. I finally got back to the Alamo rental desk within the parking garage at SNA. I told them what happened, they checked my rental back in (the car obviously wasn't with me) and said I was good to go. As I still needed a rental car, I got another one right then from Alamo. A few weeks later I received a request from Alamo for payment of $805.00.
Shocked, I contacted Alamo and so the run around begins.... After several communications via phone and email, Alamo was insistent that I pay the amount billed.
At my request, Alamo sent me a detailed invoice for the said repairs done at a Kia dealership, totaling $705.00. The balance of $100.00 is for "administrative fees" from Alamo. (see attachment for detail Kia repair invoice). In the midst of dealing with all this, I did some research and found that Alamo has made numerous erronious claims to their customers for damage and/or repairs to a vehicle the customer rented. I also looked into what causes a tire separation. I found a tire that is overfilled or under filled with air can create tire failure causing separation. The other cause mentioned, was a defect in the tire itself. The parking garage where Alamo customers check in and out their vehicles is dimly lit and vehicles often get turned right back out again to another customer renting. I provided Alamo with all this info., but it landed on deaf ears. Should I file in small claims court? Please advise. Thank you.
 

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weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#3
You are correct that this is either a defective tire or under/overinflated. What was the mileage on the car? In any case, not your fault. This tire was likely under a new tire warranty.
You should not pay this and you should pursue up the Alamo chain.

https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/alamo/

Email the first cust serv person and repeat up the chain weekly if no/negative response. Do not attach any pictures or documents uless they request same. Do NOT talk to them on the phone anymore. You should be able to resolve this without small claims court (an even bigger aggravation).

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.1514/
 
Feb 20, 2019
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#5
You are correct that this is either a defective tire or under/overinflated. What was the mileage on the car? In any case, not your fault. This tire was likely under a new tire warranty.
You should not pay this and you should pursue up the Alamo chain.

https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/alamo/

Email the first cust serv person and repeat up the chain weekly if no/negative response. Do not attach any pictures or documents uless they request same. Do NOT talk to them on the phone anymore. You should be able to resolve this without small claims court (an even bigger aggravation).

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.1514/
Thanks for your input and direction. I was going to put the Kia detailed invoice repairs (doesn't even have the tire on it) as well as the Alamo invoice to me, but the file was too large.
 

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
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#6
There is no way you could have caused this. Follow the procedure weihlac links to, exactly, and you should be fine.
 
Nov 20, 2015
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#10
I once noticed a sidewall bulge in a tire on a rental car I had driven for a few days. I couldn't recall hitting a pothole or anything and there was no damage to the rim. I had to pay for the replacement tire. Indignant, I researched the issue and found that the rental contract did, in fact, make me responsible for tire damage and any other damage caused by the damaged tire. I also found that neither my car insurance nor my credit card provided any tire coverage. Our personal car suffered extensive wheel well and side panel damage from a blowout many years ago and our car insurance covered it.

I agree that it's not the fault of the OP that this happened, but they may be held responsible for any legitimate damage caused by the blowout. Personally, I would turn the damage claim over to my insurer, but following the"how to handle a car rental damage claim" thread is a good idea too. Hopefully, they won't get around to billing for the tire itself.
 
Feb 20, 2019
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I once noticed a sidewall bulge in a tire on a rental car I had driven for a few days. I couldn't recall hitting a pothole or anything and there was no damage to the rim. I had to pay for the replacement tire. Indignant, I researched the issue and found that the rental contract did, in fact, make me responsible for tire damage and any other damage caused by the damaged tire. I also found that neither my car insurance nor my credit card provided any tire coverage. Our personal car suffered extensive wheel well and side panel damage from a blowout many years ago and our car insurance covered it.

I agree that it's not the fault of the OP that this happened, but they may be held responsible for any legitimate damage caused by the blowout. Personally, I would turn the damage claim over to my insurer, but following the"how to handle a car rental damage claim" thread is a good idea too. Hopefully, they won't get around to billing for the tire itself.
Thank you for your response. My auto insurance will not cover this because it is a non-collision incident that caused the tire to fail.
I don't know if you saw the attached Alamo invoice and Kia invoice I received from Alamo. The Kia invoice charges are: $450.00 for an electrical check and $355.00 for 2 sensor parts. A new tire or tire replacement are no where mentioned on Kia's invoice, which is interesting.
The "tech" states on the invoice that damage for sensor replacement was "due to vehicle run over an object..." Not true, and the tech in no way is an export and has no proof to back up his assumption.

The Kia invoice is fishy to me. I am in the midst of writing a letter to Alamo. Any advice?
 
Feb 20, 2019
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#14
Yes, CCGormand is correct that I need to replace the tire, but Kia's invoice is crazy and an administrative fee?!
Here is a draft of the letter I plan to send to Alamo.

February 21, 2019

To Whom It May Concern:

I am disputing Alamo’s Invoice: 300304528 for $805.00.
Alamo’s invoice includes:

* $450.00 for an Electrical Check –Car Pros Kia
* $135.00 for a Sensor Assy-Front-Absr–Car Pros Kia
* $120.00 for a Guard Assy-Front Wheel –Car Pros Kia
* $100.00 for Alamo’s Admin Fees from Alamo

The amount is in error because, the front right tire completely separated, not due to running over an object, as Kia’s tech assumed and stated on the Kia invoice.

Furthermore, Kia’s invoice is questionable, as it has an overinflated cost for said “Electrical Check.” Futhermore, there is no mention of a tire or labor to replace a tire on the invoice.

I just received a letter from my auto insurance company in regards to this matter. Specifically, stating my policy does not cover non-collision tire damage.

Due to the unknown circumstances for which a complete tire separation took place, as well as the questionable invoice from Kia, I request Alamo to withdraw the invoice and charges sent to me.
 

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
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#15
Take out the sentence about your own insurance not covering it. That's irrelevant and doesn't help your argument. You need to add in the circumstances and dates. "On XXX I rented Car from Alamo at XXX location. After driving for XX minutes, the tire light came on and I pulled over immediately." etc etc. Bullet point list of circumstances.
 
May 15, 2016
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#16
Just as a point of information, the picture and the description are entirely consistent with the most common and logical reason for this tire "separation". What the picture shows is the effect of driving on a tire that went flat (for whatever reason - bad valve, nail in tire, etc) and the driver did not notice it was flat until he/she drove on it enough to totally destroy the tire by the effect of the rim cutting into the rubber over extended time. I did the same myself on a rental car years ago. Luckily, they didn't charge me! I called them and they directed me to a national brand tire store nearby my location that they had a "national contract" with, and the tire was replaced. But truly, it was my fault that the tire got destroyed like that. I would say that a picture of my tire would look identical to the one pictured here.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#17
Just as a point of information, the picture and the description are entirely consistent with the most common and logical reason for this tire "separation". What the picture shows is the effect of driving on a tire that went flat (for whatever reason - bad valve, nail in tire, etc) and the driver did not notice it was flat until he/she drove on it enough to totally destroy the tire by the effect of the rim cutting into the rubber over extended time. I did the same myself on a rental car years ago. Luckily, they didn't charge me! I called them and they directed me to a national brand tire store nearby my location that they had a "national contract" with, and the tire was replaced. But truly, it was my fault that the tire got destroyed like that. I would say that a picture of my tire would look identical to the one pictured here.
Except that years ago cars did not have low-pressure tire warning lights: " the tire light came on (dashboard). NOTE: no other light came on or was on, in the dashboard. I then began to make my way over to the right-hand emergency lane ". The OP pulled over as soon as the tire light went on. These lights go on long before the tire is flat. I have had them go one when the tire has 20+ lbs of air in it, long before a flat.
The picture is also entirely (pun intended) consistent with a defective tire with tread separation. We do not know the mileage on the tire but the car was a 2019 and a rental, so very unlikely that the tire has 50K+ miles on it.
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 6, 2015
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#18
An internet search showed nothing clear to me so I contacted our local tire dealer and explained the sequence and results. He stated that it is unlikely top be a manufacturer's defect, and posited that the cause was highway speeds combined with low tire pressure (could be a screw or nail penetration).

When I provided the year and model he indicated that the associated pressure monitor should have lit the indicator well ahead of the separation (no implied negligence on the part of this guest).

Finally, I asked about the condition of the rim (unscathed) and he stated that this is common as the sidewalls will often deform and ride under the rim.

If all of this "surmising" is in fact true, this guest would be responsible. The charges seem very high to me . . .
 
May 15, 2016
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#19
"
Except that years ago cars did not have low-pressure tire warning lights: " the tire light came on (dashboard). NOTE: no other light came on or was on, in the dashboard. I then began to make my way over to the right-hand emergency lane ". The OP pulled over as soon as the tire light went on. These lights go on long before the tire is flat. I have had them go one when the tire has 20+ lbs of air in it, long before a flat.
The picture is also entirely (pun intended) consistent with a defective tire with tread separation. We do not know the mileage on the tire but the car was a 2019 and a rental, so very unlikely that the tire has 50K+ miles on it. "

There is nothing you said that I could argue with. Except my personal opinion is that it is not logical nor likely. The "OP pulled over as soon as the tire light came on" is what the OP said, does not make it fully true. "as soon as" may mean a minute or so. And more logically, the OP was not looking at the dash the second it came on, and did not notice it for some time. That is just human.

And it is also true as you say that the tire may have been defective with tread separation. However, not including retreads - which aren't even made any more for passenger tires, I would venture that the odds of that happening are infinitesimal to the odds that the tire was driven on flat. Of course, "your mileage may vary".
 
Feb 12, 2019
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#20
While I realize it could vary by make, I agree with weihlac. My car has TPMS and when the light goes on it's when the pressure is low not flat. My light goes on before a tire hits 25PSI - while that level doesn't give you the best gas mileage or smoothest ride it's a level you can keep driving the tires on for a while (I've routinely driven 50+ miles with a light on when I know the tire is just low since I live in a condo and can't inflate tires there). The only way to severely damage a tire after the light goes on is either 1) continue to drive the car for dozens and dozens of miles 2) the light came on because the tire suddenly dropped all pressure due to defect or immediate catastrophic damage to the tire so no matter what you did the tire was toast.