Caution: that rental car may have high mileage

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For Joanie Flaig, her husband, and daughter, it was to be the trip of a lifetime to Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon.

But they didn't expect they'd have to make the trip in a rental car from a major agency, with a sputtering engine and worn tires.

They Start Noticing Problems

During one of their first gas stops, she says, "my husband noticed that the drivers' side rear tire was completely bald. And he said, 'wow, we have a long way to go, that could be an issue!' "

Flaig says they were several hundred miles from the rental counter when their Chrysler 200, with more than 45,000 miles on the odometer, starting exhibiting what the Wall Street Journal calls "middle aged rental car" problems.

"We were somewhere between the Wyoming-Utah border, in the middle of the mountains, with no cell phone coverage," she said, "and the check engine light came on."

It turns out it was leaking coolant. "We opened it up and noticed it had less than a cup of water in it, which was hardly any coolant whatsoever," she said.

Flaig and her family managed to limp it to another rental office in Salt Lake CIty, where they traded the Chrysler 200 for another car.

Story Becoming More Common
 
But the Wall Street Journal says this is becoming more common, as rental fleets get older and older.

It says low mileage rental cars are getting harder to find, with most rental firms holding on to cars for several years now.
    
Flaig says next time, they will be a lot more careful, saying "We will check the mileage and if it has more than 45,000 miles I will probably go in and say I want a different car."

Bottom line:  if you are unhappy with the rental car the agent assigns you, wait for another with lower mileage.  You may be glad you did.

As always, don't waste your money.
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