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A rented Tesla Model 3 from Hertz ruined my vacation


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Recently rented a Tesla from Hertz, because is wasn't much more expensive than a standard rental, and thought why not?  Save on gas $$, and give an the electric car an extended test drive. Unfortunately, our rented Model 3 decided to develop sensor problems about 150 miles outside of Los Angeles.  These warnings incapacitated the autopilot/cruise, and threw error codes on the screen and constant chiming alerts that collision avoidance and other safety features were not available.  Tried to trouble shoot, (restart/reset car) (calibrate sensors) (research online) (watch youtube vids) Nothing worked, something in the Tesla's system was going haywire.    

If you plan on road tripping, or venturing anywhere beyond 50 miles of a rental facility with a Tesla, know that if anything goes wrong you'll basically have to return to that facility or another major city that has Teslas available.  There is no way to fix or diagnose a Tesla with a problem, since all that service is scheduled and organized through a Tesla App to which a renter does not have access too. Tried to stop in at a Tesla service center, and it was like talking in an alien language, "no I don't have the app", "no I didn't make an appointment", "The car is broken, and under warranty, can't you just quickly look at it?"  Blank stares... --Impossible. 

The only way to get through to Hertz was through their roadside assistance number, and Hertz's only solution was to exchange the car and the only nearest facility with Teslas for exchange was back at LAX, a full day and 400 mile round trip interruption of our short vacation. Not to mention the penalty of hours spent in the malfunctioning car with limp home/limited power, inoperable cruise, and incessant dings, bongs, and warning messages.

Another car was exchanged, and it performed as expected salvaging the rest of the holiday. Teslas can be rather pleasant (when they work). Hertz tried to be sympathetic and offer some consolations.  Perhaps the technology is just too much for a rental company.  The inability to diagnose or turn off even the smallest malfunction really highlights how much Teslas are large rolling tech devices burdened with the commensurate such tech support.  These cars either work 100% or not at all.

Gas prices be damned, perhaps next time will go with the usual ICE rental, and enjoy the vacation. Just something to think about for anyone considering a Tesla rental in the future.  

Happy summer travels--

4 Answers

Lesson learned.

EVs are unreliable, usually not because of drivetrain issues - but cause of complex electronics and bad design.

In a lot of rental companies (like Budget) you usually can get a hybrid, it's the best of both worlds.

The Prius gets above 50 mpg HYW, the new iONIQ HEV is said to get 60 mpg HYW, and if you want an SUV, the Niro HEV holds the Guinness world for "lowest fuel consumption by a hybrid vehicle" record where it got 76.6 mpg (realistically, under regular driving it does 50-60) 

Most of those also have "autopilot" (Lane centering and adaptive cruise) but it wasn't built by clowns so it works quite well.

With how efficient and reliable hybrids are, there's no reason to drive an EV.


Time is money. That’s why for long road trips, it is best to go with ICE at the moment. And I am not talking just about the malfunctions. 

I’m talking about pure logistics of using an EV long distance. Gas up in 5-10 min at any gas station. Or take 30min to an hour to recharge. Assuming you can even find an available charger along the way. 

One day, EV will be easier than ICE, I expect. But at the moment, if time is valuable to you, ICE or hybrid is the way the way to go for long road trips. 


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