TikTok user Sara Kuntz (@mamagotsleeved) found out at the worst possible moment that the headlights weren’t working on her Alamo Rent a Car—when she was driving on a desolate highway in New Mexico in the middle of the night.
Panicked and unaware of how to best proceed in the situation, she was able to fidget with the vehicle’s dials until she was able to get the fog lights on. However, this still didn’t provide enough illumination for the pitch black road, and she felt it would be unsafe to continue.
After stopping at a gas station to try and figure out what was wrong with her vehicle, a kind stranger peered under the hood and discovered a grave error that should’ve been addressed before anyone rented the car to her. The experience left Kuntz to wonder just how in the heck she was given the vehicle in that condition to begin with.
Her story appears to have resonated with other folks on the platform, who shared some of the gripes they’ve had, and close brushes with death they’ve endured on the road as a result of oversights or outright neglect from the car rental companies they’ve done business with.
Kuntz begins her video with a trembling voice, which she records from the interior of the vehicle she rented from Alamo prior to dropping it off. “So if you ever rent cars you need to listen to this because I never even in my wildest of thoughts thought that something like this would happen when renting a car,” she says. “You know you trust the people who give you a vehicle. So I ended up having to cancel my flight home from Albuquerque to Grand Junction yesterday and just driving the seven hours so I could get home cause the flight was delayed. I rented a car and when I really got on my way it was about 4 o’clock so as like 5:30-6 o’clock is rolling in, I’m in the dark and I’m driving down this highway or whatever it is and I’m realizing I can’t freaking see.”
The TikToker explained that she was quickly able to surmise that something was wrong with the car’s headlights because the vehicle, which was a Ford EcoSport, had a similar layout to her own car, a Ford Explorer. She explains, “Like my headlights are not working and I’m in this Ford like EcoSport, I have a Ford, I have a Ford Explorer so I know how the lights work and I’m turning the dials and pushing the buttons and there’s nowhere to stop you’re in the middle of nowhere and I can’t get any lights working in this vehicle or on this vehicle. I finally get the fog lamps, lights whatever they are on so I have lights. I don’t feel safe enough to stop off on any of like this seedy little gas stations so I’m just gonna power through to Farmington, New Mexico, where I need to get gas anyway.”
Kuntz says that as white-knuckled as her drive was that she was ultimately able to make it to the Farmington gas station which allowed her a chance to take a breather while also assessing what was wrong with the vehicle Alamo gave her as a rental. “So I stop in Farmington, I’m at the gas station I grab the manual, I’m reading the manual, I’m on the phone with my mom and my AAA, and I’m saying I don’t have headlights on this vehicle. I don’t know what to do there’s not a budget rent a car here, it’s 8 o’clock at night, it’s dark out, I’m about to go over this really freaking scary should be illegal pass. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
Although she was unable to discover what was preventing the car’s headlights from turning on by herself, Kuntz said that a kind stranger offered to take a look under her hood to assess the situation. He ultimately discovered a major problem with the headlights: They weren’t even connected to the vehicle in the first place.
Kuntz couldn’t fathom how such a massive oversight occurred on Alamo’s end. “And so this guy is watching me like go from in the car, turning buttons to checking the headlights, back to the car, back to checking the headlights and thankfully he walks over and he asks me if I need help and I’m like I don’t know what I’m doing wrong,” she says. “So he goes pop the hood. I pop the hood and he’s looking around in there, he’s got his flash light on his phone out he’s looking in there and he goes holy sh*t, you’re headlights are not attached.”
She continues, “And I’m like what, what? What does that mean? He goes I can’t even find the wiring that is supposed to connect your headlights so they work. And I’m sitting here and I’m like sweet Jesus, I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do. Am I supposed to stay in a f*cking trucker motel in Farmington, New Mexico by myself late at night until daybreak? And he’s like hold on a second, he digs around a little more finally finds the connection and attaches my headlights. How do you rent a car to someone with the headlights detached? How does that happen?”
The TikToker wraps up her video reiterating her disbelief in Alamo allowing the car to be rented without attached headlights: “How does that happen? How does that car leave the lot? How do you do put someone in that vehicle? They literally upgraded me to this vehicle so I’m about to return this car, I’m gonna go, I’m going to request a refund. I’m gonna do it very politely it is not the fault of the people that I’m returning this vehicle to. I will update you as soon as I talk to them.”
In a series of follow-up videos, Kuntz delineated how she informed the rental car company when she dropped her vehicle off at about the headlight issues she experienced. In the initial clip, she said that while the employee didn’t process her refund, they did say that they were recording her complaint and that they would contact the Alamo in Albuquerque that rented her the EcoSport, which eventually gave Kuntz a call.
The TikToker says that the Albuquerque representative apologized profusely for Kuntz’s experience, calling her time with the vehicle “absolutely unacceptable” and that she was “mortified” something like that even happened to her.
As to how the headlights were disconnected in the first place, Kuntz said that the Alamo employee mentioned the EcoSport she was driving was in the body shop prior to being rented, and that the service techs working on it may have disconnected the headlights and neglected to connect them before returning the car. The business refunded her rental fee without question and then asked if there was anything else they could do for her as a means of apologizing for the harrowing experience.
Folks who saw Kuntz’s first video, which has amassed more than 133,000 views, had some ideas of their own as to why went wrong with the car. One person thought someone might have rented the car just to swap out the lights. “My only thought, someone who had the same car rented it to swap out the lights with their own. (Better condition from the rental),” the user wrote.
Others shared their own poor experiences when renting cars, like this Enterprise customer who said they got in a terrible car accident after being given a whip with bald tires. “Enterprise gave me a car with bald tires and I hydroplaned on the interstate and hit the concrete barrier at 65. It was so traumatic,” the user wrote.
One person said they once found a gun in their rental’s glove box. “Girl, I rented a car in 2020 when the rental place was advertising their 5 billion-point cleaning blah blah. There was a REAL PEW PEW IN THE GLOVE BOX,” the user wrote.
Someone else said that Kuntz should’ve taken it upon herself to check every aspect of the vehicle prior to driving it: “it happens because you didn’t check to see if the lights work before driving it. any time you get in a different vehicle, check everything.”
Alamo Rent a Car writes on its website that it promises its customers a full inspection of vehicles prior to renting them out. “As part of our Standard of Care, we perform a final quality check on every vehicle before every rental. This extra step includes documentation of the vehicle condition before each rental, offering you peace of mind so you can be focused on the road ahead,” its website reads.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Alamo Rent a Car and Kuntz via Instagram DM for further comment.