When driving down the highway or through a new city in your independent rental car, the last thing you want is to hear is the hiss of air leaving your tire, or the loud pop that precedes the rumble of a flat. When a flat tire does happen however, you need to know what to do. Since you're away from home in a rental car, it won't be as simple as placing a call to a friend or family member to come pick you up, or help you out; but it also doesn't need to be a traumatizing event. So what do you do when your rental car gets a flat tire? Here are a few helpful hints.
What To Do If You Get A Flat While Driving Your Car Rental
If you're lucky, you'll walk out of your restaurant, hotel, or store to find your tire has deflated in the parking lot. Often though, a "blowout" will occur where your tire quickly or almost instantly goes flat while driving. As soon as you hear the pop, or feel your tire has gone flat, take your foot off the gas. This will enable you to better navigate your car rental vehicle. If you hit the brakes, your vehicle will pull unevenly and could put you and your passengers in danger. As soon as you can, slowly pull off to the right shoulder of the road, a safe distance from traffic. It's very important you don't stop in traffic or anywhere on the road, as it could be a significant time before your car rental is back up and running. Once you you have control of your vehicle and you've safely reached the shoulder of the road, be sure to turn your car rentals four way hazard lights on.
Now What? Am I Stuck?
Once you've safely reached the side of the road and have turned your hazard lights on, don't panic. With today's technology, most car rental drivers have cell phones or a SmartPhone. Before you leave home, make sure you program in a few key phone numbers for tow trucks in the region, CAA, or AAA. If you are using a SmartPhone, you can navigate the web to find local garages and tow companies. As well, there are many mobile applications which will allow you to find help.
Similarly, many independent car rental companies across North America offer roadside help for customers who have a flat tire or other automobile issues. Before you hit the road, ask your car rental company what type of roadside assistance they offer. Sometimes a small additional fee may be required, but when you're driving unfamiliar roads, it's well worth the investment. If you are a CAA or AAA member already, you'll often be covered regardless of the vehicle you're driving.
Can I Fix it Myself?
For many car rental drivers, a flat tire can easily be changed, often without help from a third party. Before beginning, make sure you are a safe distance from the road, in particular if your flat is closest to the road. Your car rental vehicle, whether it be an SUV, car, or van rental, will likely come with a spare tire, and repair kit. If you want to quickly locate your spare tire, and receive instructions on how to change the tire, look for your car rental's owner's manual. The owner's manual will state the location of your spare tire, and may even explain how to change the tire. After you locate the jack, tire key, and spare, it's time to change the tire. Make sure you place the jack firmly on the frame near the flat tire before changing the tire. After you've changed your tire, it's time to get back on the road.
It is never recommended to drive long distances on a spare tire. A spare is designed to simply get you back on the road in order to reach a garage or hotel for the night, before getting your tire repaired. As soon as you can, get your tire replaced or repaired (take the blown tire with you if possible).
If you have any other questions or concerns, simply call your independent rental car location and ask about their service and roadside repair policies.