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Car Rental Breakdown

wanted to share my recent car rental with you while traveling to Spain. I am unable to find any information online and therefore sharing my story as well as seeking information and advice

We rented a car in Barcelona with Enterprise ( booked through priceline), and used the Chase Saphire Reserve to cover the insurance. We were driving to San sebastian and our car started making some noise closer to our destination. We made it to the destination , but next day morning the car did not start. We called enterprise and they sent a mechanic to check. He was also not able to start the car and towed it. We went to the Enterprise office at San sebastian and the guy told us the car had an issue and we can take a replacement car. To our knowledge, we believe enterprise gave us a faulty car. However, enterprise just sent us a bill for 4500 euros to cover the damage cost. We are clueless at this point - will we have to pay this out of pocket, can chase cover this or how do we fight it with the rental company , especially since they have limited support in English. Any guidance will be helpful.

Posted by
6511 posts

Any chance you ran over something in the road that may have caused damage?

Did any warning lights come on when it started make odd noises.

Is the bill itemized as to what was repaired? If you are home and have an itemized bill, check with you local car guy to see if it 'makes sense'

I would contact Chase promptly, if you have not already done so.

Contact ERAC here to see what info ( help?) they can provide

Posted by
4021 posts

Enterprise are a reputable company however many of their branches are franchises. Whilst that does not preclude the practice of scamming it is unlikely that a franchisee would risk their position by operating scams.

It may be that they unwittingly provided you with a damaged car. Vehicles are not checked thoroughly at such places as the turnaround is so quick so any potential problem may have been overlooked or it may be the case that the damage was caused unknowingly by you (you don't state what the problem was).

As far as insurance procedures go you are responsible for paying the charges up front and then claim them back via your insurance. You need to check what your insurance covers, my credit card insurance is pretty basic so I always take out a dedicated car hire insurance for £40 for annual multi trips, far cheaper than taking out the rental agency insurance.

Posted by
7190 posts

You didn’t, by chance, put diesel fuel into an unleaded gas tank or unleaded gas into a diesel vehicle did you? That would be disastrous...kind of like your current 4500 Euro repair bill.

Posted by
5934 posts

This is why we always book our car rentals with AutoEurope as they stand behind you if there are any problems.

Posted by
10 posts

We filled in unleaded petrol, after checking the car fuel type. however, they are claiming that we filled a wrong fuel type ( which they didnt say when the mechanic checked the car two months back ). We have the petrol pump transaction but not the reciept.
Also wouldnt a diesel nozzle be big to even fit into a petrol tank ?

Posted by
10 posts

We did not have any warning lights on or run over anything. There was just some noise and then the car stopped.
We are currently Discussing with chase but it is unlikely that a mechanical damage is insured. There is an itemized bill but the pricing is very different in US compared to Spain. I will post the charges they have put on the bill.

Posted by
10 posts

Motor Aligerado is 2793
Oil others are another 200 euros
Service cost is about 822euros based on 68euro per hour

Posted by
8889 posts

Also wouldnt a diesel nozzle be big to even fit into a petrol tank ?

No, they are all the same size. They are colour-coded, in most European countries diesel is BLACK. I have read that is the opposite way around in the USA.
I found some photos (photo 1) (photo 2).
I think that is the most plausible explanation of what happened.

Posted by
5552 posts

I'm not saying that you filled or tried to fill the rental with the wrong fuel, but my son did just that this past August after leaving Barcelona. The diesel fuel nozzle almost fit and with the timer on the self-serve fuel pump ticking down, they somehow managed to get some diesel in the gasoline tank. They didn't get to far before the car stopped working and spent the weekend in a small town until a local mechanic drained the tank and cleaned out the engine.

My son's confusion was the fuel pump markings use letter code, not words to describe the fuel type. The different types of gasoline are marked with an "E" prefix while diesel is prefixed by a "B" or XTL for synthetic fuel. He said that the rental car did not have any instructions about the fuel pump nomenclature. The car worked fine after they got it fixed.

Posted by
4021 posts

Is there a way to contest if the previous driver fueled it incorrectly ?

I initially wondered if that was a possibility but the OP stated that they refueled prior to the car breaking down. If the wrong fuel had been used by the previous renter then the OP would have experienced problems prior to them needing to refuel.

Posted by
6511 posts

gasoleo = diesel

Gasolina sin plomo = unleaded gasoline

Any recollection of what the car was labeled at the fuel filler cap and what you put in?

As I recall the diesel nozzle is larger than gasoline one so one cannot ( easily) put diesel in a gasoline fill pipe, but the reverse can happen. When I rented in Italy, several years back, diesel powered was by far more common than gasoline power, and my impression it was true for most of Europe

Posted by
4846 posts

Normally a car cannot run as far as you say with the wrong fuel, diesel into gasoline. It would quit in minutes, not make odd noises and get you to your destination

I would agree, for a US designed car with all of the pollution controls and basically filling an empty tank. But a car with fewer sensors and a mix of Diesel and Gasoline would probably run for a while.

Agree, only speculating on the cause, but the use of "Gasoleo vs Gasolina and Diesel Pump handles being Black, as opposed to Green, reverse of what it is in the US, as well as the type of service performed, all point to a possibility. Some Diesel already in there, or more added, the result is the same.

Posted by
10 posts

I agree with that , and that's my concern. We fueled about 100kms before stopping ( and on an almost empty tank ) so I would find it difficult that the car would have made it through on wrong fuel. Also the company claims this now, while the mechanic never mentioned this or wrote on his tow reciept the issue with incorrect fuel.

Posted by
2816 posts

There are an awful lot of posts online where the wrong fuel is put in and the car dies soon, including from Europe. Also the OP claims to have correctly matched the fuels and also that the tank was filled up. I'll bet it was something else for the OP.

Lessons learned:

  1. Take the train
  2. Take a picture of the cap lid sticker and also save the receipt with fuel type indicated.
  3. Cancel the credit card after returning so you can't get these types of charges later on.
Posted by
10 posts

I am still not charged on the card and it's possible within two weeks. Should I just cancel the card ? Will it not result in some legal case on my driving license given enterprise is a US companu

Posted by
2816 posts

I am still not charged on the card...Should I just cancel the card ?

I can't answer that since no experience, and can't even speculate since my post may be deleted. But there sure are a lot of charges that can come long after the return, even a year afterward, which is why I added 3 above. Frankly I think the rental car companies should be quicker with this kind of stuff. It makes you wonder if they got the car going, then the next renter mixed up the fuels, if that was even the problem.

It's also possible that the rental company is just fishing for money.

My attitude has always been that if I make it 5 miles, then I got the fuel right.

Posted by
20726 posts

Curious, since you haven't said anything but were you give a gas or diesel model? Do you know the fuel type? Having once owned a MBenz diesel car, I am very familiar with diesel fuel. Even if the pump wasn't mark I would know that it is a diesel pump because the handle would be oily and smelly. Whereas a gas handle is generally much cleaning. But if you are not familiar with diesel you probably would not recognized that difference. In fact I pack a pair of rubber gloves when we planning on renting in Europe.

I am not sure if the larger diesel nozzle is standard in Europe. The larger diesel nozzle in the US has nothing to do with diesel but came about with the mandated shift to unleaded gas. To prevent leaded gas for being put into unleaded vehicles, the nozzle for unleaded fuel was made smaller and a restricker was placed in the neck of the fill tube so only an unleaded nozzle could be inserted. By default the diesel nozzle could not be inserted either since it was the same size as the leaded gasoline nozzle.

You are not going to run long on the wrong fuel. You can live with some gas in a diesel. Had that happen a few years ago when the local gas station accidentally their diesel tank with gasoline. Didn't do any damage but a mess to clean out the fuel system.

The knocking sounds raises a question of low to no oil pressure. To me that sounds more reasonable than bad fuel. That can ruin an engine.

Posted by
20726 posts

Just saw this ----- Cancel the credit card after returning so you can't get these types of charges later on........

That is absolutely bogus advice. If the credit card was valid at the original time it was given, subsequent changers by the original vendor are valid if stated in the contract. Cannot use the cc to buy a hamburger across the street but if related to the original contract -- perfectly valid and they can come after you and probably will.

It will have nothing to do with your driver's license and everything to do with your credit report. You are on the hook unless you can prove you have no liability and, on the surface, I see nothing to disprove liability. Sorry. It is going to get messy.

PS - edited -- There are two things I always do with rental cars besides checking for dents and windshield chips, is to check the oil and make sure the spare tire is there.

Posted by
4021 posts

Also the OP claims to have correctly matched the fuels and also that the tank was filled up. I'll bet it was something else for the OP.

No, the OP claims to have filled the car with what they believed was the correct fuel, that doesn't mean that they used the correct fuel.

All the responses from the OP lead to the conclusion that they filled up with the wrong fuel. If that's the case then they should take full responsibility, persuading them to ignore the fines is disingenuous?

Posted by
10 posts

We are sure we got unleaded petrol , consistent with the requirement on the agreement, we are trying to reach out to the gas station to see if they have a proof. We have identified the credit card transaction and located the station ( hopefully ). I still feel the rental company could create issues

Posted by
2816 posts

OP: keep at it. You are sure you did nothing wrong and your long drive with the full tank of fuel is inconsistent with the alleged damage. It’s odd they released the hold on the card and then decided to bill you later— who does that?

enterprise is a US company

It’s likely that in Spain it’s a separate company leasing the name, not a US company.

Posted by
10 posts

So this is what we were thinking to prove our case for disputing the claim - we have a fuel station charge on CC about 100km from the hotel , where we checked in an hour after the fuel fill. If we have both , it would suggest that our car would not have been able to cover 100km with incorrect fuel. The car was towed from same hotel next day morning .

Posted by
20726 posts

Just having the charges does not prove what you purchased. You credit card is one to solve your problem. They have the id number on the charge. From that, the cc company can request verification of the charge and the station will be able to provide an electronic copy of the charge. For example -- if you claimed that the charge was fraudulent, the cc company would have to investigate to determine if it was a valid charge. The CC company would demand verification from the station as to the actual charge. In the old days, that meant a signed ticket. Not sure what it would be today. But the detail is going to have to give some indication of what was sold. But that is where you start.


Posted by
10 posts

Thank you all. We are waiting for gas station to send the reciept but the hotel has provided all check in information to prove that we drove for 1.5hrs after fueling. Also a local confirmed that diesel nozels will not fit the new gasoline cars. The agreement was also verified to ensure it was a gasoline car.
Like I also mentioned , the car was just making some rattling noise even before fueling.
We will continue to find more paperwork to support our claim and dispute credit card charges.

Posted by
20726 posts

Anyone ever check the oil level?

Posted by
3436 posts

Cancelling a credit card dose not prevent valid charges from posting to the account. You cannot hide from charges. Doing that may actually reduce your chance of success if you have to dispute the repair bill charge if they add it to the credit card.

Even though you may dispute the repair bill, it is considered a valid transaction due to the agreement you signed when you rented the car. The dispute, if it comes to that, is a separate argument with the card issuer and the rental company.

Posted by
2816 posts

dispute credit card charges.

Which you said you don’t have. How did you receive the bill for work done?

This is off topic:

Cancelling a credit card dose not prevent valid charges from posting to the account

I haven’t had anything post to a closed account and I can’t find anything online about people who have except for recurring charges like a cable bill. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough.

Posted by
3436 posts

Someone mentioned it as a way to avoid having the repair fee on the credit card bill if the rental company chose to try that route to collect.

Since it is "off topic" I won't go into to many details, but most people close accounts for valid reasons (fraud, lost card, moving to a different card for rewards collection, wanting to reduce their available credit, and so on) and don't have outstanding charges or authorizations waiting to post. I had a card closed for fraud and reissued with a different number. All expected charges going forward ended up on the new card.

Posted by
315 posts

In the past rental cars in Europe were diesel, recent trip it was unleaded. Had to use the thinking cap when filling up!

We rented a car @ SEA. 24 hours later "Warning Light". Had to take 1/2 day to get a new car with no "Warning Lights". Staff said it is no big deal this Toyota just need to be reset. Staff were immediately sending car back to SEA.

Be warned after fraud charge and multiple attempts by vendor I had to request Chase reissue a new number. Oh, I have to ask!

I do look for spare tire and required safety gear. I will add oil check.

Posted by
5552 posts

RE: Warning Light". Had to take 1/2 day to get a new car with no "Warning Lights". Staff said it is no big deal this Toyota just need to be reset.

Rental agency staff would be generally correct about the "no big deal" if the warning light(s) was just the "Check Engine" light. A "Check Engine" light activates if something in the emission system is out of specification. If the car is drive-able and functioning it is likely safe and would just need to be checked (the fault code downloaded). Now if the warning light was a brake failure light, that would be a different story.

The oil level is an intriguing situation as to who is responsible for adequate lubrication and servicing the vehicle. While I will do a visual examination of tires I don't carry an air pressure gauge. Fortunately, here in the North American, modern cars come with a TPS sensor and warning system.

Posted by
4021 posts

Fortunately, here in the North American, modern cars come with a TPS sensor and warning system.

They do elsewhere too.

As for the suggestion about making sure there's a spare tyre the author will struggle to find one in most modern vehicles as the majority of manufacturers have eschewed them in favour of run flat tyres. This means that there's less weight in the vehicle and more room in the boot.

Posted by
1217 posts

"Check engine" will also come on when a gas cap is not properly tightened after refueling. It's the first thing I check when that happens and 90% of the time it seems to clear that message for me.

Posted by
2852 posts

Anyone ever check the oil level?

I would paraphrase the late Lee Iacocca here: No one in the history of the world has ever checked the oil level on their rental car.