When you’re driving around in a rental car, the last thing you want to deal with is a flat tire. And if this were to happen to you, you may be asking yourself, who pays for a flat tire on a rental car? After all, it’s not your car!
Well, unfortunately, you have to pay for a flat on a rental car.
But just because it’s your responsibility, doesn’t mean you necessarily have to shell out for a brand new tire. Here’s why.
Who is responsible for a flat tire on a rental car?
While you may have thought that the rental car company would be responsible for things like flat tires, the reality is you will be responsible. In fact, even some insurance policies that rental companies offer don’t include flat tires in the list of covered items.
However, before you go out and buy specialist insurance, the first thing you want to do is check the fine print of your rental agreement. In some cases, the company may agree to cover minor maintenance issues like flat tires and dead batteries. So be sure to check this first before you make any decisions about insurance or additional coverage.
Should You Buy Car Rental Roadside Assistance?
Car rental roadside assistance is an additional service that some rental companies offer, typically for an extra fee. It’s a great way to be sure you’re covered in the event of something like a flat tire. With roadside assistance included, you can rest assured that your bills won’t stack up if something were to happen while you’re away on vacation or business trip.
However, you don’t always need this. For example, if your rental company includes minor maintenance in the agreement, you won’t need roadside assistance. Similarly, if you are a AAA member, then you will have access to roadside assistance, so you may not need the additional coverage.
Finally, roadside assistance is also included as a perk with some credit cards so make sure you check what benefits your credit card covers before you purchase the extra coverage.
Having roadside assistance doesn’t mean you are in the clear when it comes to paying for a replacement tire. You are still liable and so it’s important to check your rental contract and ask about these costs.
Do Rental Cars Come With Spare Tires?
You may assume that your rental car comes with a spare tire, but the truth is that most rental cars don’t come with one. Not only is it not a legal requirement, but most companies see this as an unnecessary extra expense.
If you want to avoid a nasty situation down the road, make sure to ask about a spare tire before you sign your rental agreement as it often isn’t clear (unfortunately we’ve seen enough shady dealerships to know this can be a problem).
What to do if you get a flat on your rental car?
If you do end up with a flat here is what you need to do.
Use a spare tire (if you have one)
While it’s very possible that your rental vehicle does not come with a spare tire, sometimes you will get lucky and it will have one. If this is the case, all you really need to do is change your tire and you’ll be good to go.
Get in touch with your rental company
Whether or not you have a spare, it’s important to get in touch with your rental company. Depending on the terms of your agreement, they may be able to help you out with a replacement tire or even repair the old one.
Contact roadside assistance
Typically, your rental company will help get roadside assistance out to you, if not, be sure to contact them yourself.
Car Rental 24/7 Roadside Assistance Hotlines
- Alamo: US/Canada 800-803-4444
- Avis: US/Canada 800-354-2847
- Budget: US/Canada 800-354-2847
- Dollar: US 800-235-9393; Canada 877-354-5391
- Enterprise: US/Canada 307-6666
- Hertz: US/Canada 654-5060
- Enterprise: US/Canada 307-6666
- National: US/Canada 367-6767
- Payless: US/Canada 800-PAYLESS (729-5377)
- Thrifty: US/Canada 877-283-0898
Wait for roadside assistance
If you do need to wait for roadside assistance, be sure to stay safe and take precautions. In some cases, you may be able to drive the car a short distance before you wait for help, however it is best to stay in the vehicle and wait.
Once they arrive, they will either help you replace the tire or take your vehicle to a service station for repairs.
What about rental car insurance?
If you are worried about paying for a new tire out of pocket, then we recommend getting rental car insurance. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to get it even if you don’t think you need it. This is because rental car insurance can cover the cost of a replacement tire and other damages that may occur while you’re renting.
However, there are some important caveats you need to consider:
- Not all rental car insurance is made the same: different policies will have different levels of coverage and this may not include paying for replacement tires.
- Rental car insurance is usually an extra cost: if the rental company does not offer tire replacement as part of their regular maintenance in the agreement, then you may need to pay an extra fee for the coverage.
- You may not need additional coverage: If you already have car insurance or a credit card that covers rental cars, you may not need to purchase additional coverage. Be sure to check what benefits your credit card covers before you purchase the extra insurance.
Do you need to replace all tires or just the flat one?
In the event that you need to pay for a new tire yourself, you will only need to pay for the tire in question. You should not have to pay for any other tires and if a rental company includes this in their policy, it’s a serious red flag that should make you reconsider doing business with them.
How to avoid getting a flat tire?
The best way to avoid paying for a flat tire is by not getting one in the first place. To do this, you should fully inspect the tires before you take the vehicle off the lot. Check for any punctures, damage or improper inflation. You don’t want to be liable for damage you didn’t cause.
When you driving, be sure to avoid any aggressive manoeuvres that could cause you to hit a curb or pothole. These are the most common causes of flat tires and staying alert while driving can go a long way in helping you avoid them.
Hopefully, you now have the full picture when it comes to liability with a flat on your rental car. If you want total peace of mind, always make sure to speak with the rental company before you drive away and get rental insurance if you’re not already covered.
We hope this has been helpful! If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or get in touch via email or through social media and we will read and respond to every comment, email or question. Thanks for reading!