How to Deal with Breakdowns in a Rental Car?

Deal with Breakdowns in a Rental Car

Renting a car is a convenient and popular choice for travelers around the world. It provides flexibility and freedom to explore new destinations. However, rental cars are not immune to breakdowns, like any mechanical device. In this article, we will explore the responsibilities and actions to take when faced with a rental car breakdown.

Who Is Responsible If a Rental Car Breaks Down

When it comes to these situations, the responsibility can vary depending on the circumstances. In most cases, the rental car company is responsible for maintaining the vehicle in proper working order. They must ensure that the cars they rent out are safe and reliable. However, there are instances where the responsibility may shift to the renter. If the breakdown is a result of negligence or misuse by the renter, such as failing to maintain the car properly or driving recklessly, the renter may be held responsible for the damages.

Rental Car Breakdown Scenarios And Responsibilities

Let’s explore some common scenarios of what happens if a rental car breaks down to better understand the responsibilities in rental car breakdowns.

Mechanical failure:

If the breakdown is due to a mechanical failure that is not caused by the renter’s actions, the responsibility lies with the rental car company. They should assist and arrange for repairs or a replacement vehicle.

Accident or collision:

If the breakdown is a result of an accident or collision, the responsibility may depend on the rental car company’s insurance coverage. If the renter purchased additional coverage, the rental car company should handle the repairs and provide a replacement vehicle. However, if the renter is at fault and did not purchase additional coverage, they may be liable for the damages.

Misuse or negligence:

If the breakdown is a result of the renter’s misuse or negligence, such as ignoring warning signs or failing to maintain the car properly, the responsibility may shift to the renter. In such cases, the renter may be responsible for the repairs and any additional costs incurred.

Each company has clear conditions regarding liability for damage to the rental car. They may differ. Therefore, carefully familiarize yourself with the requirements of the company you are dealing with before renting a vehicle. For example, you can find all conditions regarding damage to a car rented from RealCar ( on the page “Rental Agreement: Terms and Conditions”.

What Happens If Rental Car Breaks Down

Experiencing a breakdown can be stressful, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar location. Here are the steps to take if your rental car breaks down:

Safely pull over:

If you notice any signs of a breakdown, such as strange noises or warning lights, safely pull over to the side of the road or a nearby parking lot. Ensure that you are in a safe location away from traffic.

Contact the rental car company:

Inform the rental car company immediately about the breakdown. They will provide instructions on what to do next. If you have purchased additional roadside assistance coverage, contact the provider as well.

Follow the instructions:

The rental car company will guide you on the next steps, which may include arranging for a tow truck, providing a replacement vehicle, or directing you to a nearby repair shop. Follow their instructions carefully to ensure a swift resolution.

When you find yourself in a situation with a rental car breaking down, it’s easy to get confused due to the stress. Trying to fix the breakdown on your own might seem the best decision in such a situation, but it makes no sense. You don’t know what caused the problem with your car. Perhaps, it’s not your fault, thus spending your money on repairs is not your duty. 

Understanding The Terms And Conditions Of Your Rental Agreement

Before renting a car, be it regular or elite EV cars rent, it is crucial to thoroughly read and understand the terms and conditions of the rental agreement. This information will outline the responsibilities of both the rental car company and the renter in the event of a breakdown. Pay close attention to:

  • Maintenance requirements. Familiarize yourself with the maintenance requirements outlined in the agreement. This may include regular oil changes, tire rotations, and vehicle inspections. Adhering to these requirements can help prevent breakdowns and potential liability.
  • Reporting procedures. Take note of the reporting procedures for breakdowns and accidents. Ensure that you have the necessary contact information and understand the timeline for reporting any issues.
  • Insurance coverage. Review the insurance coverage provided by the rental car company. Understand the limitations and exclusions, and consider purchasing additional coverage if necessary.
  • Pre-rental vehicle inspection. Check whether the company does it before any new customer takes the keys. It’s your right to require making this step from the company. Even minor issues should be acknowledged by the company. 
  • Additional expenses. You may be required to pay more than just the initial payment costs. Late returns, cleaning, repairs, and many other minor services may be included in the final costs. Check this information as well.

Unfair companies often cash in on people’s inattentiveness and rush with which they usually decide to rent a car. Nobody reads the agreements and conditions of the service. Such an attitude to things often costs people money and health. If you found a company, but its rules state that any breakdown is the customer’s responsibility, you better look for another one. Let it be more expensive, but at least you’ll feel protected and respected.

What Happens If Your Rental Car Needs An Oil Change?

Regular oil changes are an essential part of vehicle maintenance. Although it’s supposed to be performed by the rental platform, customers often find themselves in situations where urgent oil change is necessary. If your rental car needs an oil change during your rental period, follow these steps:

  1. Check the rental agreement: Review the terms and conditions of your rental agreement to see if oil changes are included as part of the rental car company’s responsibilities. Some rental car companies have strict maintenance schedules and may handle oil changes themselves.
  1. Contact the rental car company: If the rental agreement does not specify who is responsible for oil changes, contact the rental car company for guidance. They will provide instructions on whether you should proceed with an oil change and how to handle any associated costs.
  1. Document the oil change: If you are required to get an oil change, keep the receipts and any documentation as proof. This will help avoid any disputes regarding responsibility for the oil change costs.

The same sequence of actions applies to fuel policy and all other consumables. It’s okay for some companies to require returning a car with a full tank of gas, whereas others operate on the exact opposite basis. If you’re not rushing, you better search for a company ready to cover all these expenses. 

What happens if Turo’s car breaks down? Turo and other car-sharing platforms provide an alternative to traditional rental car companies, and it seems to be that their terms are more convenient for customers. When it comes to various breakdowns, the responsibilities may differ slightly depending on their nature and causes. Turo is a peer-to-peer car-sharing platform. The responsibilities for breakdowns are outlined in Turo’s terms and conditions. 

In most cases, Turo provides 24/7 roadside assistance and handles the repairs or replacement of the vehicle. If you got into an accident with Turo’s car or it broke down, don’t panic. The sequence of actions is the following:

  1. Contact your host or Turo roadside assistance. You should have gotten their contact when signing a rental agreement with Turo. Inform the company about the situation.
  2. Reach your destination point. If you can drive further, do it. Fill out a damage report on the website, and don’t try to hide anything. 
  3. Wait for assistance. The costs for it aren’t charged if an accident or breakdown occurred through no fault of yours. Those who violate Turo policy will be responsible for covering all expenses.

If you deal with other car-sharing platforms, other requirements might apply. Each car-sharing platform may have different policies regarding breakdowns. Before renting a car through any car-sharing platform, review their terms and conditions to understand the responsibilities and procedures in case of a breakdown. It would also be good for you to check the company’s reputation. Utilize all resources including social media and third-party review websites to know customers’ opinions before making your choice. 


Experiencing a rental car breakdown can be inconvenient and stressful, but knowing your rights and responsibilities can help navigate the situation with ease. Remember to read and understand the terms and conditions of your rental agreement, practice safe driving habits, and be prepared for emergencies. By following these guidelines, you can minimize the risk of breakdowns and handle them efficiently if they occur.


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