Three Budget Rent a Cars in Eight Days

Flat Tire on Freeway April 14,2009

Flat Tire on Freeway April 14,2009

I’ve just returned from a trip to Los Angeles with my daughter. It was very stressful because our rental car broke down twice.

The first time was on the second day of our trip. We had driven all over L.A. and I was parking the car in front of my dad’s house when it just died. I tried starting it again and again and it wouldn’t start. Then I left it alone for 20 minutes because I thought that maybe I’d flooded the engine. I tried it again and it still wouldn’t start so I called the emergency roadside service from Budget Rent a Car.

They sent a tow truck out to me with a new car on it. Even though it was an inconvenience , I thought the customer service was quick and friendly. The distance from the airport to my dad’s house is almost as far as the distance between Essen and Köln.

Then, last Tuesday, April 14th I was driving in the fast lane on a 7 lane freeway (14 lanes, if you count both sides) on Highway 5 going South, when I heard a strange noise. I asked my daughter, who was listening to her iPod, if she’d heard it too, and she said “yes.”

The sound grew louder and I asked her to check to see if a helicopter was flying above us because that’s what it sounded like.

She said “no” and then I realized that the sound was coming from our car.

At that moment I thought “hmm, I’d better slow down and get out of this lane and drive the 6 lanes over to the side of the road in case something is wrong with our car.”

At the same time I noticed a small truck to my right doing funny things. He was driving in a zig zag pattern across the right 6 lanes of traffic and waving at me. As I crossed over to the right, the car started to rumble and bump and I realized that it was the tire that had blown out. I barely made it to the side of the road when the tire came off completely and I couldn’t drive anymore. The man pulled up in front of me , jumped out of his truck and ran over to our car. He asked us if we were okay and told us that he’d been trying to slow all of the traffic down so that we could get over to the right side of the freeway and out of danger.

He was our angel! I couldn’t believe that this man risked his life for us.

He asked us if we needed help but I told him that I had an emergency roadside service number from the car rental agency that I could call. He waited with us until he knew that help was on the way and he gave me his card and left. He said I should call him if the tow truck didn’t show up and he would come back to help us.

After he told us that he’d been trying to slow down the traffic, I realized that lot’s of cars had been honking at him and at us, but I hadn’t even noticed. It was like a dream sequence in a movie without a soundtrack, except for the noise in our car. I didn’t panic, I just responded with my instincts and luckily they were quick enough, even though I felt like it had all happened in slow motion.

After we stopped, I called the emergency roadside service again and they said they’d send out another tow truck. While we were waiting, a California Highway Patrol car stopped and an officer got out and came over to our car.

He was very nice and he asked us if we needed any help. I told him what had happened and that we were waiting for the tow truck. He said if we were frightened, he would stay with us. I couldn’t believe how sweet and kind he was. I told him that we were okay and he said that if we changed our mind, we should just dial 911 and the operator would send him over to us because he was patrolling the area .

The tow truck arrived and the mechanic changed our tire. He could barely get it off of the wheel because it was torn to shreds. He had to break the hub caps off because they were bent and he couldn’t get them off. He finally managed to cut it off and we applauded. It was very dramatic.

He put a small tire on that looked like a donut and told me to not drive over 55 MPH. (not very fast)

I called the car rental company and told them what had happened and where I was and they sent me to the nearest airport , John Wayne Airport in Orange County to pick up a new car, our third.

We are now back in one piece in Essen and happy that we don’t have to rent another car until July.

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3 Responses to “Three Budget Rent a Cars in Eight Days”


  1. 1 Nancy April 19, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Oh my goodness! That photo says it all, huh? Wow … that was really terrible. Thank goodness you and Anna are all right.

    • 2 suzyschwarz April 19, 2009 at 9:30 pm

      I know. I’m very grateful that nothing worse happened. In an instant life can change from one tire blowing out on a busy freeway and I’m just glad it didn’t.


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