Budget Rental Car Breaks Down, Company Sends Truck For The Car But Strands Two Senior Citizens

In a very long twitter thread a customer who rented a car from Budget detailed how their vehicle broke down two and a half hours outside of Denver. There was no Uber or public transit. Budget Rent a Car sent a tow truck for the vehicle, but they weren’t allowed to ride in it. Instead two senior citizens “fighting altitude sickness added to pre existing respiratory challenges” were left stranded in the middle of nowhere to fend for themselves.

The couple had rented a Mitsubishi Outlander Sport at the Denver airport and made their way to a hotel in Golden, Colorado. They drove to Salida, Colorado about two and a half hours away. Then, on their way back,

The rental car began acting strangely. When I accelerated, the engine slowed, paused, and juddered. …The symbol of a large wrench appeared on the dash info screen. A loud “repair needed” warning. ..[We] actually made it as far as the eastward turn, when immediately ascending into the first mountain pass, the car began to shimmy and shake and lost acceleration and power. A bright warning light began flashing on the screen next to the wrench : “Check Engine Soon”.

They pulled off the highway and called Budget’s roadside assistance number. They were placed on hold, transferred around, and – they say – finally were told that a tow truck would be dispatched from Aspen and would take four to six hours.

There was some confusion about what to do next. It was suggested they could leave the car and take a reimbursable Uber, but then the couple says Budget determined the ride would be too long to do that. Budget apparently told them “that it ‘appeared’ that the replacement car had been ordered.”

The car managed to make it to Buena Vista, and they pulled into a coffee shop to wait. Not content to rely on Budget they searched for their own options but found none.

Transportation companies just laugh at our request for assistance back to Golden. Real bad sign.

Okay, fine. Surely Budget will at least follow through and send that replacement car with the tow truck? By now it’s well on the way to Buena Vista. The Budget agent confirmed that

— MomNews (@MomNews2) June 26, 2022

The tow truck did eventually arrive however. The driver refused to take them with him (‘hitchhikers’) for insurance reasons.


— MomNews (@MomNews2) June 26, 2022

No one came from Budget. They found a room at a Best Western two miles away and paid a coffee shop employee to drive them there.

They began calling Denver limo companies to see if anyone would drive out to get them. Most refused, but one finally accepted the job for the next day. Their total trip time 29 hours. They never heard from Budget again, except for this:


One week later, we received a final bill from Budget Rental Car. It was for the full, unadjusted, four day cost of this car, and STILL exhibited no acknowledgement, comment, or evidence of awareness of this debacle. Tone deaf/phone deaf.

— MomNews (@MomNews2) June 26, 2022

Rental car companies don’t assume a duty of care for you when their vehicle breaks down. In fact they’ll attempt to ascertain if it’s your fault and expense.

It’s easy to be lulled into complacency in a world of Uber, Lyft and smartphones that no matter where you go you can get somewhere else at the push of a button. But that’s not so everywhere. Be aware when driving in less traveled areas that there may not be convenient backup options. Know what yours might be, and get creative.

At least this couple didn’t rent from Hertz. They still have their freedom.

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