Rental Car Roulette

RdKetchup

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Tales of my rental car woes during our European vacation.

I attended my first Ringmeet this year, bringing the family along. We were following that with vacations in Austria, so I rented a car with Hertz. Mercedes C Klass or similar.

I originally booked a car with Avis, but their online reservation system is so crappy, that fees started to appear out of nowhere, and any modification made increased the bill by 200$, so after fighting to get customer service on the phone I just gave up, cancelled the whole thing and swallowed the 50$ cancellation fee.


Hertz (at FRA airport) gave us a beautiful 2016 BMW 320D X-Drive, with 86000 km on the odometer. Very basic specs, cloth seats with manual controls, but it did have navigation and keyless entry/start.

Upon starting it we were greeted with some warning message in a weird foreign langage, but being eager to get out of the airport and on my way to Ringmeet, I ignored it, assuming it was a generic warning about not driving distracted or some shit.

Stopped a few minutes later by the side of the road to try to get the Nav setup to get us to our destination, and managed to change the system back to English. Turns out the weird langage was Danish, and the warning message was Low coolant level (but only got that one back once we got to our destination). Great!

The next day I topped off the coolant and the message went away.

The car was fine over the weekend, the driving dynamics were nice, the engine was adequate. Trying to get off the line swiftly was anything but smooth, but besides that it felt like it would do just fine.

Only took it up to 185 km/h on the autobahn, and it had a sticker saying the tires were only rated to 210.


Monday morning, on a grey and rainy day we set off for the 9 hour drive to Graz, Austria. After driving past Frankfurt, the dreaded Engine coolant low message came back, this time followed by Engine overheating, slow down, followed by Engine too hot, stop, and the engine going into limp mode.

We made it to the nearest exit, found a place to safely pull off, and tried to get Hertz Roadside Assistance to pick up the car. What followed was a mess of Roadside assistance doing anything but assist, so we ended up topping up the coolant again, driving back to FRA, and exchange the car, loosing 3 hours (and our patience) in the process.


The staff at the Terminal 1 Hertz garage was at least helpful, and gave us a low mileage white Volvo XC60, with a 2l diesel engine.

The good:
- Way more modern.
- Way more luxurious.
- Bigger trunk.
- Full of gadgets (more about that later).

The bad:
- SUV

The ugly:
- Worst infotainement system ever!

As we pulled off the Hertz garage, the main screen had message about navigation not being available. I assumed the car was not equipped with it, the reality was something else.

For some reason, the infotainment system would try to load all the sub systems (and repeatedly failed at nav), and eventually crash, and restart itself. This would go on for 5 to 30 minutes until everything loaded properly, every time you restarted the car. Every time the system rebooted itself, the AC and ventilation would stop completely, an amazing feature when driving around the city in >30° weather with kids in the back.

The car was equipped with a huge sunroof. For some reason, the switch that controlled the sunroof and the sunshade had a mind of it's own. So some days you would be able to open the shade while leaving the roof closed, other days it would systematically open the roof at the same time.


Cruising on the highway was OK. The engine once again was adequate, I took it up to 205 km/h on some unrestricted sections of autobahn, but being a SUV with a higher center of gravity, I was not very confident on the road holding abilities.

When navigation was working, the speed limit information available on the dashboard was impressive. Even temporary construction zone lower limits all seem to be spot on.

The car also had radar adaptative cruise control with lane departure warning/prevention, and even an autopilot mode (that of course still requires you to hold the wheel) where it would actually stay on the middle of the lane instead of just bouncing back between the lines like it would with just the lane departure prevention active.

Maybe other cars do the same, one thing I had never noticed before and that I truly enjoyed was that if the cruise control started slowing down as you neared another car, the speed would go back up as soon as you activated the turn signals to switch lane. It also remembered your radar distance preference after restarting the car, unlike the Audi A3 I tried a few years ago.

We got to experience the automatic emergency braking when somebody decided to cut across 3 lanes in front of us to get to an exit. Probably over sensitive, I was monitoring the situation and would have not brake unless the situation got worst.


The car also had 360° radar park assist and birds eye view camera. Quite useful while navigating small parking structure in a car that size.

Overall fuel consumption was below 8l/100km, not bad for an SUV loaded with 2 adults, 2 kids, and a lot of luggage, driving at the speeds we were.


With all this said, I would not buy a brand new Volvo.
 
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93Flareside

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You had a much more exciting experience with Frankfort Airport Hertz than I did. 😆

I had a 2018 (I’m guessing now as the receipt doesn’t state model year) Ford Focus wagon. 1.0L 3 cylinder with a 6-speed manual which had 12,059km on it at time of pickup. I put 1,166km on it and it consumed roughly €100 of fuel. I didn’t pay attention to the economy so I have no idea how efficient it was. :D

It was uneventful and the fastest I dared to take it to on the highway was 205km/h because at that speed, the front end started to get light and it also took a very long time to get up to that speed. On the plus side, I was able to just hang with the other wagons that were also going quite fast on the road. The clutch was nice and light similar to my Golf GTI’s so traffic wasn’t a bad expierence like if you had say, a 2004 Ford Mustang GT. The difference from what I am used to was the cut in where the car started moving was nearly at the top of the pedal travel. It took some getting used to but ultimately didn’t take long to learn the feel.

Navigation was standard and, like Redketchup’s cars, had speed limit notifications on top of knowing construction zone limits, very nice and surprising since systems at least in America aren’t as well connected or updated as frequently if ever. Despite knowing real world speed limits, where there was a decrepency is where construction zones had temporary lanes that required you to move over on the far left side like what happens in America where you’re on the opposite side’s travel lanes with a temporary cement wall dividing traffic. The navigation didn’t see them and showed the road as if nothing unusual was there. Not a big deal but I figured that if speed limits were known, I would think the map would also be updated like how Waze is. Where the speed limits differed was when the variable speed limit sections were on. Understandable since it changes with weather and traffic which can be different throughout the day.

The infotainment worked ok so long as you didn’t have a nearly full 80GB iPod plugged in. Every time you turned on the vehicle, the infotainment spent the next half hour indexing the iPod which means you cannot search for songs and play them. Music could be played but only what is currently selected like if you were listening to music before hooking it up and of course when your iPod is hooked up via USB, local control of your iPod is disabled. There was no aux jack either in the dash by the USB jacks or in the center arm rest like usual so you couldn’t bypass the slow indexing. During my drive down from Viktoria Station to Stuttgart the infotainment was having a Royal fit and was stuck indexing my iPod after every album played and would finish. You’re better off using your iPod with an aux cable(if this car can be spec’d with one) or straight up using your newer device that has Bluetooth.

Probably the most weird thing about the focus wagon was the fact that I had power windows only up front. The back seat passengers had wind down windows which is something I had no idea could still be spec’d today.

The tires on this car were so loud and kind of looked like winter tires. They were Goodyear Vector Gen2’s which has a sort of Y shaped tread pattern that made low speeds and rolling to a stop sign very noisy. I’ve never had a set of all seasons sound like this and chalked it up to a poor design.

Was it slow? I guess so. It was adequate for my
needs and would be fine if you never went faster than 120km/h. You do have to downshift any time you need to make a lane change to pass someone and I was flooring it every time I passed someone on the highway just to get by at a normal pace and not hold anyone up. In towns it was excellent. There is no turbo lag and it kicks in at very low rpm. I wouldn’t know if it had a turbo if it weren’t for the turbo whistle you hear when the windows are open and “ecoboost” badging on the trunk lid. I didn’t pay enough attention but if I had to guess when the turbo came on, it was somewhere between 1500-2000RPM. I don’t know if I’d buy one though. I like the idea of a focus wagon since it has slightly more space than a standard focus with better entry to the trunk. It’s a bit of a nothing car. If I had to have one though, it would definitely need the manual transmission.
 
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thevictor390

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I didn't think much of it at the time, but I was the first ever renter of my Citro-*cough*DS Automobiles DS3 in France. 25 km on it. I guess I got super lucky compared to RdKetchup's experience...
 

Galantti

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RdKetchup;n3552761 said:
The bad:
- SUV

,.......

Cruising on the highway was OK. The engine once again was adequate, I took it up to 205 km/h on some unrestricted sections of autobahn, but being a SUV with a higher center of gravity, I was not very confident on the road holding abilities.

............
its fine, i ddi 235km/h (indicated) back in 2017 when i had the tuareg :p
 

narf

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93Flareside;n3552764 said:
Navigation was standard and, like Redketchup’s cars, had speed limit notifications on top of knowing construction zone limits, very nice and surprising since systems at least in America aren’t as well connected or updated as frequently if ever. Despite knowing real world speed limits, where there was a decrepency is where construction zones had temporary lanes that required you to move over on the far left side like what happens in America where you’re on the opposite side’s travel lanes with a temporary cement wall dividing traffic. The navigation didn’t see them and showed the road as if nothing unusual was there. Not a big deal but I figured that if speed limits were known, I would think the map would also be updated like how Waze is.

The tires on this car were so loud and kind of looked like winter tires. They were Goodyear Vector Gen2’s which has a sort of Y shaped tread pattern that made low speeds and rolling to a stop sign very noisy. I’ve never had a set of all seasons sound like this and chalked it up to a poor design.
Most of those speed limit systems are camera-based, sharing hardware with the mandatory auto-braking... though possibly not aimed at the overhead gantries of dynamic traffic management :dunno:

As for tyres, we have mandatory winter (or all-season) tyres in winter weather, and your car will stay with the rental place until early winter - instead of having two sets they just cheap out and get all-season right away.

Oh and fuel - under 10€/100km for a petrol is quite good with current fuel prices.
 

narf

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Currently flogging this around Northern Georgia twisties:



Quite fun to drive, still way too annoying to live with every day - it's 2018, why is there still a massive handle to unlock the roof?
Why can't I operate the roof while moving or remotely, why can't I close windows remotely when a typical Florida rain comes?
Why does it keep turning off cruise control every time you start it up?
Why are the toggles only one-way switches, not actual toggles?
New 10-speed is stupid when compared to the BMW ZF 8-speed.
Nav screen is terrible, there's no useful distinction between tiny roads and medium-to-major-but-sub-interstate roads.
In-tach ETA and centre-screen ETA don't agree with each other :facepalm:
Safety nannies won't let you type with the on-screen keyboard while moving... but will let you click many times to get to the then-greyed-out keyboard - it'd be safer if you stopped me fumbling with the screen sooner, no? Also no passenger detection so we had to stop to allow the passenger to enter a destination :facepalm:
The entering-the-back bit of the front seat backs doesn't remember the old position.
My when-in-Florida record remains at 100% chance of hurricanes, but can't blame Ford for that...

Cooled seats are amazeballs in the sweatbox that's called Floriderp.
Digital tach is nice.
Line lock is bonkers.
Best boot, err, trunk of all my 'Murica rentals so far.
Looking good, sad colour choice by Sixt though.
Sequential indicators.
 
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93Flareside

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If it’s like my mustang, you can pull the parking brake up one click where it’s not engaged and operate the top. Mine only worked if the parking brake was “applied” and there was no speed sensor.
 

narf

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Didn't try that, but it'll work at like 2mph or so or when just stopped at a light in D with the foot on the brake :dunno: so I doubt the parking brake will help.
 

DanRoM

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Well, be glad that CC is turning itself off. I know a certain manufacturer that leaves it in standby upon switching the car off, leading to an empty battery when you leave the car like that for a few weeks (which apparently is fairly common for a "fun second car").
 

narf

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Huh? I don't want the computer to remain powered on, I want the turned-on-state to be stored somewhere.
 

Mitchi

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...they have not somehow disabled linelock in a rental car?! :lol:
 

narf

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With the forums back it's time to update the rentals :cool:

Yet another 595C, yet again hooning across our 17th state:




This was the oldest so far from Europcar's static-ish fleet... apparently before they turned the farting up to eleven :cry: still lots of fun though, once you get over the slippery-when-wet worn front tyres :driving:


...and my pre-Christmas sleigh had the appropriate colour this time:




Fancy lights :wub:


Potatoshot lit by just a half-moon:

while stargazing:


My first car with an OPF - made interesting squirrelmincing sounds though. Overall an excellent little thing, could use a tiny bit more oomph though. Still enough to scare hitchhikers :D
 

CrzRsn

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Oh I got a good one on my last business trip....



Driving the Jeep back to Phoenix from San Diego. Had 55 miles to empty according to the cluster and 3/8ths of a tank according to the digital gauge. All of a sudden the DTE number goes to 30....10....0.... and the engine cuts out in the span of 30 seconds. Gauge went to a 1/4....low fuel warning....0 in the same time. Managed to coast to the side of the freeway but that's it. No obvious punctures in the tank or fuel lines, no trail of fuel behind the Jeep. Called the rental agency and they sent out a tow truck. Luckily I was 10 miles outside Yuma, AZ and was able to get a 38k mile Nissan Altima from the local office there. Would've royally sucked if I was out in the middle of the desert on either side of the city.

The rental office in Yuma was able to get the Jeep started just by pouring in some fuel out of a jerrycan, so I'm guessing either the computer lost its mind or Chrysler needs to revisit the DTE algorithm. Seeing as how the digital fuel gauge dropped at the same time as the DTE, it was using the same calculation rather than the fuel level sensor in the tank. Was talking to a few guys in the office about this and one mentioned of a similar thing happening to them in a rental Charger, which also has a digital fuel gauge.
 
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CrzRsn

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:unsure: what company has tow trucks in their fleet? :giggle:
Well it wasn't the rental agency's truck. The rental agency has an AAA contact which in turn has contracts with local service providers.

I know this because the initially the truck was supposed to take me to a closed repair shop (it was Sunday), and the tow driver was like "I don't understand why AAA would send me there because you'll just be stranded." So I had to call the rental agency back, and they had to call AAA to get the tow driver to go to the rental office instead.
 

narf

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OOOoooo so you didn't rent a tow truck? :(

Would've been fun in a crowded city... you get a tow, you get a tow, everybody gets a tow!
 

93Flareside

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Had a Toyota Tacoma from Sixt this past week.

It was alright. Other than Nissan, they’re the only other brand that doesn’t have CarPlay available and the infotainment feels really dated like Nissan. It was 4 doors with a covered bed. It had radar cruise control only on the last day did I find the menu to adjust how the system reacts to traffic. Usually as soon as a car changes lanes in front of you, it would brake heavily until the set distance was met. Once at the lowest sensitivity, it will coast a little before braking. Helps when the guy is just swapping lanes for sport.

It doesn’t do burn outs and the transmission seemed a little weird in that either my driving style is weird (probably) or the engine/transmission combo makes it so that you have to drop gears to get usuable torque when in traffic. There was more tire noise coming from behind the cab than the front. Other than that, it was ok.

 
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