Four rental cars in 24 hours. Seriously.

Yeah.  Four.  Not making it up.

The story starts pleasantly enough.  I arrived at Miami’s Thrifty airport counter a week ago.  Lo and behold, they had my full-sized car ready.  A Ford Taurus.

Gasp.  Ready?!  You mean you aren’t going to pull your usual trick?  The one where you try to pawn off an SUV on me?  Wow.  I should buy a lottery ticket.

So, things were going well until midday yesterday.  We were a third of the way to Ft. Lauderdale from the Upper Florida Keys, when we hear chimes alerting us to the low tire pressure indicator.  We find a gas station with an air pump and my cousin,  the automotive electrical engineer, goes to work trouble-shooting the situation.

She adds air to the right front and back tires.  Low pressure indicator still on.  She moves to the left side and tries to do the same.  However, instead of the tires inflating, the air hose was actually causing them to lose air.  The deduction was that the left tires had faulty valves, which weren’t allowing inflation.

We figured that the problem wasn’t dire enough for emergency action, so we decided to continue our drive to Ft. Lauderdale and then deal with the car after lunch.

About four hours later we pull into the Ft. Lauderdale airport and find our way to the Thrifty return lanes.

Hi….there’s a problem with this car.

Okay, do you to switch it with a different car? 

(Really?  That easy?  You didn’t even ask me what the problem was?  What if I had a dead body in the trunk?  Still cool with my swapping it?)

Yes, that would be great.

Okay, let me get the paperwork.

He hands me my original paperwork with a few additional sheets added to the sleeve.  After I bitched a little more, I also received a coupon for 10% the next rental.  Finally I was asked what was wrong with the car.  He then wrote my answer on the windshield. (For a sec, I thought of starting a game of tic tac toe.)

So, off I go to the counter to negotiate the replacement vehicle.

The representative suggests a Crown Victoria as an option.  He asks if I want to see the car first.  Apparently, the low tire pressure affected my brain synapses and I decline.  He then gives me the keys to a car that resembled a  Blues Brothers police cruiser.

Seriously?!  They still make cars like this?!!  Unfreakingbelievable.   This thing had the shift on the column and a bench seat.  OMG!!!!

I drove it to the end of the row and then came back.

Excuse me sir.  I am sorry.  You gave me the option of seeing the car and I declined.  I am an asshat.  I should have taken you up on it.  This car is horrific, you have to give me something else.

With no other full-sized cars available (and my rejecting the ubiquitous SUV), I agree to go down one class to a standard.  He handed me the keys to a dark maroon colored Ford Fusion and off we went.

Within minutes I was being strangled by the seat belt and when I accelerated, the car sounded like it had tuberculosis.  Zero to 60 in three hours.  Peachy.  This was going to be my ride for the next week?!!  Sigh.

So, fast forward to today.  Driving down U.S. 1 this afternoon,  we hear chimes again.  And a low tire pressure warning.

OMG…seriously?!!  Is Thrifty trying to punk me?!!!  Am I in car rental Groundhog Day? Are Fords devoid of any quality control?!!

I quickly look at my watch.  4:50 p.m.  I’m about three miles from the Upper Keys Thrifty location.  Not sure if they close at 5 p.m. so I hit the gas.  More tuberculosis.  (After all this is the Keys.  People take their cocktail hour very seriously so I need to get there before they start hammering brewskis.)

I walk in and explain my current dilemma and the car rental events of the past 24 hours.  The woman behind the desk proceeds to tell me that this sort of thing happens all the time and and I shouldn’t be concerned.

Uh.  No.  I further explain the problem with yesterday’s deflation and I am not comfortable driving a car with a safety warning.

She tells me that if I fill the tires with air and then drive five miles it should adjust itself.  I was pretty sure that the next set of instruction were going to involve me clucking like a chicken, chugging a beer and running around the car ten times.

Instead of following her moronic instructions I politely explained why her theory wasn’t correct and proceeded to ask….once again….for a new car.

Is the current car filled with gas?

Uh.  No.

Okay, well, you are going to have to fill it with gas and the come back.

Sweet mother of god.  Thrifty is going to give me a stroke.  Off I go to the gas station and pump $14.81 worth of regular into this piece of asthmatic, under inflated piece of crap.

I return to the office where the attendant completes the transfer.  She hands me the sleeve stuffed with more paper and all sorts of “returned” notations on the cover.  She hands me the keys.

Can you tell me where it’s parked?

No, I’m not sure where anything is parked. Just use the keys and try to find the car that lights up when you push the open door button.

Fabulous.  As I try to find Car #4, I turn around and snap this photo of the seat belt choking Ford Fusion.

Tuberculosis on four wheels.

Rental car #4.

My new ride, is the last car in the row.  A lovely silver Taurus.  A smile crossed my lips as I realize that I would now be back to driving something comfortable.  I enter, start the car and find my self staring at the following:

Engine oil. Change soon.

Shoot me.  Does Ford make any vehicle that doesn’t display a warning message of any type?

The only one that would be appropriate is, “you are stupid if you buy or rent this car.”

P.S.  Did I mention that I left my Jawbone bluetooth behind in Car #1?

Categories: Car drama , The Conch Republic