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Puncture in a Rental Car – What to do?

Getting a puncture on your car can be a bit of a nightmare and a costly one at that, so what happens with a rental car if you happen to be the unfortunate one who gets a puncture? The simple answer is, you are liable for the cost of a repair / replacement, even though you are going to give the car back at the end of your holiday / trip.

First things to check;

  • Is the tyre actually punctured?
  • Can you still drive the car safely?
  • Do you have a spare wheel?
  • Can you fit the spare wheel?

What to do next;

  • Reinflate the tyre if no obvious sign of puncture / damage
  • If punctured, is it safe for you to fit the spare wheel?
  • If no, call rental agent for breakdown assistance
  • If yes, change the wheel and have tyre replaced / repaired (see below)

car rental puncture

What Will It Cost? Am I Liable?

Should you return the car with a damaged tyre, or an insufficient repair, the car rental agent will charge you for the cost of a replacement tyre plus an admin charge. This should be a pre-defined charge in your rental agreement as the cost of tyres on different car types will vary, so a fixed rate is not applicable. The following table shows an estimated cost of a replacement tyre by rental car type;
Car Type
Example Model
Sample Size*
Tyre Cost**
Ford Fiesta
VW Golf
Ford Mondeo
People Carriers
Vauxhall Zafira
SUV / 4x4
Toyota Rav 4
*sample size based on typical tyre size for popular model in rental fleet, ensure replacement tyre match
**Tyre cost based on average size / cost from highstreet tyre outlet for premium brand tyre

If you take out the rental agents own SCDW (or other popular acronym), any damage to tyres should be covered, but it’s certainly worth checking or asking the question. If you don’t take out the rental agent policy, they will charge the credit / debit card used as security and you will either have to bear the cost, or claim off a secondary insurance policy (such as our RentalCover) if you have one in place.

What if I get a Puncture During my Rental?

If you get a puncture in a rental car, it’s likely that it would be during your trip and whatever it might end up costing, you’ll still want to get it repaired or replaced so you can carry on your journey. You should check the car for a spare wheel, however many modern makes and models no longer carry a spare, rather a repair kit (foam spray repair / electric pump) designed to get you to a tyre repair centre for replacement. If you are not confident using the kit, we recommend that you call the rental agent for assistance. If you are confident to use the kit then you can do so and make your way to the nearest tyre repair centre.

If you do have a puncture (nail / screw / foreign object in the tyre), if may be that it can be repaired rather than replaced. A tyre repair centre will advise if a repair is possible which is likely to be significantly cheaper than a replacement. If however you do need to get the tyre replaced, it must be in line with the rental agents terms and conditions or you may end up paying twice. The tyre must be the same make / specification as the other tyres on the car and as all of our rental cars are new makes and models they will be fitted with premium manufacturer tyres that are likely to cost significantly more than a budget tyre to replace. Don’t cut corners here by fitting a budget tyre as the rental agent is likely to charge you again for a replacement of the correct tyre. Keep the receipt / invoice of the tyre in case you are required to produce it for the rental agent.

Low Tyre Pressure Light in a Rental Car

Modern cars are now often fitted with tyre pressure sensors which alert the driver to a change in the tyre pressures, often signaling a puncture. However the systems are not fool proof and it’s not uncommon for the warning light to come on when there is no puncture. Should the tyre pressure warning light come on during your rental, we recommend that you stop when it is safe to do so and manually check all the tyres for obvious damage / deflation, however if all appear fine, it should be safe to continue your journey to the nearest fuel station / tyre repair centre where you can check the pressures and inflate as necessary.

If it’s not obvious you have a puncture but a tyre pressure is low (you should find the recommended tyre pressures on the inside of the driver door jam), simply re-inflating the tyre may solve your issue without the need for a potentially costly repair / replacement. Tyre pressures will change in significant temperature changes. For instance, if you are driving a long distance on the motorway (particularly in summer sun), the tyre temperature will increase dramatically which can lead to an INCREASE in the tyre pressure of up to 5psi which could trigger the warning light. Remember, the system senses a change in tyre pressure not just a drop.

Car Hire Excess Insurance – Tyres

Most third party car hire excess insurance policies will cover the cost of damage / replacement to the rental cars tyres, however it’s certainly worth checking the small print to ensure this item is specifically covered.
Chloe Demaret
Posted: April 24, 2018 by Chloe Demaret
About the Author -

Travel writer, social media guru, Chloe keeps our readers and customers up to speed with all the car rental and travel trends on our blog. Favourite destination: Dubai.

Last updated: Monday, December 11, 2023
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