Customer Complains About Lack of Spare in Rental Car

On consumer advocate Chris Elliott’s blog, Dollar Rent A Car customer Joe Gershman asks if it’s legal for car rental companies to rent a vehicle without a spare tire. Elliott’s findings revealed that it is legal for rental car companies to rent a vehicle without a spare, at least in the state of South Carolina.

During his contract period, Gershman realized after calling AAA that his rental from Dollar didn’t have a spare. Elliott first advises Gershman that he should’ve first contacted the rental company — not AAA.

Gershman contends that Dollar should have disclosed that there was no spare in the vehicle, and that he should be reimbursed for the “one day” he was without a car. Elliott notes that after making phone calls to Dollar, Gershman contacted the company on the evening of April 4 and was given a replacement vehicle by 1 p.m. the following day.

To read the full blog from Elliott and comments from Gershman, click on the URL:

Manufacturers are turning to alternatives to spare tires in an effort to curb vehicle weight. More than 14% of 2011 models, for example, were equipped with a tire sealant and inflator kit instead, according to AAA. You can read more from Business Fleet magazine about this manufacturer change and view a list of late-model vehicles not equipped with a spare.


  1. buzz Sawyer [ May 7, 2012 @ 12:32PM ]

    I understand that a spare is optional cost now with some manufacturers.Any car rental company that would rent a car without a spare to save money is wrong
    How would you like you like to have a flat with no spare?Do they really care about the customer? Not if your renting cars without spares to save a few bucks.

  2. Steve [ May 7, 2012 @ 12:50PM ]

    Hi Buzz, the car rental companies just rent the car and don't make the car. These cars are not designed with space for the spare and the neccessary tools needed to change the tire. Customers will have less trunk room available to them which creates an entire different set of problems. In my opinion the manufacturers should design all cars with spare tires. It is not fair to penalize the rental car company for the actions of the manufacturers.

  3. buzz [ May 7, 2012 @ 01:31PM ]

    Steve,if the spare is an option then it should be ordered with a spare. Yes we only rent them,but we also order them with other options also.The hassle to a customer as in this article is just unacceptable for a business that's all about customer service.

  4. Chris [ May 7, 2012 @ 07:13PM ]

    Buzz, what you say doesn't apply to GDP program cars, which are typically ordered as part of a mix without the ability to specify any particular options (or even any particular models). Even when ordering risk cars, it's not always easy to specify options, as not all options are available on fleet vehicles, and even if it is, it's not always apparent what a vehicle won't come with. For example, we ordered several dozen all-wheel-drive minivans from Toyota a couple of years ago only to discover upon arrival that they all came with no spare and included run-flat tires. At a cost of $217 each (wholesale, plus shipping), it was not popular with customers who had to buy new ones...not to mention with us when we had to pay out of pocket for ours (LDW or uncollectable damage). But we didn't actively choose this, and honestly, none of us thought to even check if the car didn't come with a spare. Stupid mistake? Maybe. But a fair person couldn't honestly say we were intentionally at fault.

  5. Joe [ May 11, 2012 @ 03:42PM ]

    I work for Slime Tire Sealant. The key to this issue is that new vehicles 2008+ have tire pressure monitor systems (TPMS). So, the tire repair kits that automakers are including with their vehicles work in conjunction with TPMS. When motorists get a warning of tire pressure loss, they can safely pull over and repair the tire one-handed with these handy kits. Often, a flat tire is discovered after the vehicle has been parked for a while, since a puncture may release air at a slow rate. This situation makes it even easier and safer to repair the tire with the kit and get rolling - much faster than waiting for roadside assistance to find you, use the spare, and put the dirty flat tire in your vehicle. Either way, the flat tire needs a professional repair at some time, using a plug/patch mushroom style plug/patch repair. If sealant is used to repair a tire; smart repair shops will just clean it out with rags and water and then go through the normal professional process of tire repair. Regarding run flat tires, don't run flat, run full. Use tire repair kits and fully inflate your run flat tire for a safe ride. Later, on cars with TPMS, consider replacing the expensive run flat tires and carry a tire repair kit instead. Then, you can roll with your choice of tire.

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