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‘It was so traumatic’: 5 nightmare car rental stories that’ll make you think twice

‘Had tires blow out on the highway.”


Ljeonida Mulabazi


Car rentals are an invaluable convenience in today’s fast-paced world. Whether for business trips, vacations, or simply getting around town, renting a car is a straightforward process—at least, most of the time. 

With approximately 130,000 people using a car rental service daily in the U.S., some are inevitably going to encounter not-so-smooth experiences. These can range from unexpected charges to downright car failures, putting drivers in uncomfortable situations.

In this article, we’ve compiled five recent and unfortunate car rental experiences from TikTok that will make you think twice before you pick up those keys. 

Alamo Rent a Car ‘nightmare’ experience

Traveler shares 'horror' experience with Alamo Rent A Car, and how she got bailed out
@mamagotsleeved/TikTok Evgenia Parajanian/ShutterStock (Licensed)

TikToker Sara Kuntz (@mamagotsleeved) shared her nightmare experience with Alamo Rent a Car, which left her stranded in the middle of a desolate highway in New Mexico.

In her viral video, Sara explains that she discovered the headlights on her rental car weren’t working while driving at night. Panicked, she managed to get the fog lights on, but they weren’t enough for the dark highway.

Sara decided to stop at a gas station to figure out the problem. A kind stranger looked under the hood and noticed that the headlights weren’t even connected.

“He goes, ‘Holy sh*t, your headlights are not attached,’” Sara recalls. “I’m like, what? What does that mean? He goes, ‘I can’t even find the wiring that is supposed to connect your headlights so they work.’”

In a frustrated tone, Sara says, “How do you rent a car to someone with the headlights detached? How does that happen?”

After the stranger fixed the headlights, she continued her journey but was left ‘mortified’ at how such an oversight happened.

In follow-up videos, Sara revealed she reported the issue to Alamo. The representative from Albuquerque apologized, calling her experience “absolutely unacceptable” and refunded her rental fee in full.

Tesla rental goes horribly wrong 

Driver shares nightmare experience with Tesla rental after it malfunctioned on the highway, leaving them stranded BGStock72/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

TikToker Ki ( shared the nightmare experience she and her friends went through with a Tesla car rental.

In her video, Ki explains how her first time driving a Tesla went horribly wrong.

“Car dropped down to 5% on the highway. Googled the closest charging station and it was the wrong one,” reads the text overlay on the clip.

After failing to charge at a gas station, Ki had to wait four hours, only for the battery to drain quickly after unplugging. Eventually, she had to get the Tesla towed to a supercharger.

She ended the video by writing, “Took us 13 hours to get from Orlando to Atlanta.” 

Commenters in her video suggested she stick to gas cars in the future, with many gas stations available anywhere, no matter how remote the area. 

Woman gets told to change rental car’s oil

car with hood up in garage, caption 'POV: You rented a car and they immediately make you take it in for an oil change. wtf' (l&r) People in line at Avis counter (c)
Kekyalyaynen/Shutterstock @theirishsparkle/TikTok (Licensed)

TikTok user Courtney (@theirishsparkle) posted a video revealing Avis, the well-known rental car company, asked her to take her newly-rented vehicle in for an oil change. 

“POV: You rented a car and they immediately make you take it in for an oil change…wtf,” she wrote in the video’s overlay text. 

In the caption, she elaborates further, writing, “I rented a car, went to go pick it up, and they told me it needed an oil change and that I would need to take it across the street. They insisted this was a normal practice. Absolutely not, sir. The whole thing took an hour.” 

If you’re understandably wondering whether the renter is responsible for this type of routine maintenance, as Avis’ terms and conditions state, the vehicle has to be returned “in the same condition you received it”—which essentially means a renter shouldn’t even be allowed to change a rental’s oil.

Renter finds something unusual in car’s tires

Rental car customer warns to check car thoroughly after finding something unusual in tire
@22mushu/TikTok Olivier Le Moal/Adobe Stock Studio Romantic/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

A viral TikTok by Designs by Mushu (@22mushu) warns renters to thoroughly check rental cars before leaving the lot.

In his video, viewed over 870,000 times, he shows a rental car’s back tire with a blade embedded and two sidewall plugs.

Many commenters shared similar experiences and advice. One said, “They don’t check fluids or tires after it has been rented. Good way to get into an upgraded car class.” Another added, “Before and after pictures people. it will literally save your a**.”

Mushu’s story ended well as the rental company refunded him. This PSA serves as a reminder to always inspect rental cars for any hidden problems.

Renter left stranded without a vehicle

woman with caption 'I have never in my experience of renting a car' (l) people at Budget rental counter (c) woman with caption 'we all Ubered here (waited over an hour to find out there were no cars)' (r)
BeautifulBlossoms/Shutterstock @maknugz/TikTok (Licensed)

TikToker @maknugz shared her frustrating experience with Budget Rent a Car.

In her video, she says she rented a car for her disabled mother’s visit, confirming the details over the phone and receiving confirmation that a vehicle would be available. However, upon arriving at the pick-up location via Uber, she found chaos and a line out the door.

“I walk in, there’s a line out the door of this little cubicle in the back of this facility,” she recounts. Despite her reservation, @maknugz was told there were no cars available.

Her ordeal involved numerous calls to Budget customer service, visits to other Budget locations, and assisting another customer, all while facing mistreatment.

“I paid almost $400 for a vehicle for the weekend and I barely got to use it,” she stated. 

The Daily Dot