It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime. Joanie Flaig and her family were headed to Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.
They planned the trip, but, they didn't plan to make it in a rental car from a major agency, with a sputtering engine and worn tires.
The Problems Begin
It started during one of their first gas stops. "My husband noticed that the drivers' side rear tire was completely bald. And he said, 'wow, we have a long way to go, that could be an issue!'" Flaig said.
They were several hundred miles from the rental counter, when their Chrysler 200, which had more than 45,000 miles on the odometer, started exhibiting what the Wall Street Journal calls "middle aged rental car" problems, Flaig said.
"We were somewhere between the Wyoming-Utah border, in the middle of the mountains with no cell phone coverage," she said, "and the check engine light came on."
It turns out, the car was leaking coolant. "We opened it up and noticed it had less than a cup of water in it, which was hardly any coolant whatsoever," she said.
Flaig and her family managed to limp it to another rental office in Salt Lake City, where they traded the Chrysler 200 for another car.
Story Becoming More Common
But, the Wall Street Journal says this kind of problem is becoming more common, as rental fleets get older and older.
According to the Journal, low mileage rental cars are getting harder to find. Most rental firms now hold onto cars for several years.
Next time, she will be a lot more careful, Flaig said. "We will check the mileage and if it has more than 45,000 miles I will probably go in and say I want a different car," she said.
Remember: When you rent a car, you've got to check for scratches or dings, so you don't get charged for them. And now, it's important to check the odometer, as well. If the rental car has too many miles, ask for another one. It's not worth the hassle.