Rental Break-DownsIt rarely happens, but what you need to do if your rental breaks.

While we try to plan for everything, $&^% happens and you have to deal with it. We had one of those moments after 13 years of traveling Ireland -- our rental car broke down!

Arriving in Dublin, we grabbed our rental car and began the journey cross-country to Doolin where we were going to plant ourselves for an entire week. The journey was pretty uneventful and boring as we used the motorways to cut out all of the small towns, requiring someone to navigate. Everyone was asleep except for me, the driver.

After stopping in Bunratty for a pit-stop, diaper change (15-month-old with us!) and some food... we continued on and that is where it happened... the manual transmission's gear wouldn't catch and the engine just races as we went through a roundabout. I went through the roundabout, ready to head toward Shannon Airport and the transmission caught. Back through the roundabout we went toward Doolin again, thinking we'll call about the car and take care of it in the morning as we were exhausted.

Just as we were heading toward Doolin, the transmission went again and we were out of luck. We pulled over, went through the glove box and called the rental agency, whom we use all the time. They gave me the number for AA (Ireland's version of AAA) despite me assuring them it was completely dead. My anger kicked in as I've never had this problem and didn't know how to handle it. The reason they make AA come out is to make sure they can't get the car running, regardless of what the driver says. So we waited and AA showed up within 20 minutes, confirmed the transmission was gone - we needed a new car.

The nearest rental office was 20 minutes south at Shannon Airport, which is where I was going to go. The AA driver took all of my passengers, including my daughter, up to the nearest hotel to ensure they were safe. He then came back and hooked up the car for towing and we were at the airport fairly quickly.

Here is where I calmed down a bit more despite more bad news -- they would charge me for a new rental car until they could determine that I had not damaged the car! Remember, when I travel, I don't tell folks I'm a travel agency owner ... I want to know how they treat my clients so I keep that all very hidden, making my reservations myself online. I didn't even care about paying for a new rental because it would be worked out afterward when I returned - how could I have killed a transmission on a car with 20,000 miles?

I got the new car and continued on, with no further issues -- and the cost of the new rental was refunded immediately.

Rental Breakdown Lessons

  1. AA Phone Number - We put this on our rental check-list to make sure you check the glove box for AA's phone number so you call them right away instead of the car rental company.
  2. Tire Changing Tools - Though we didn't have this problem, we think everyone should ensure they have the tools to do this - if the AA info wasn't in the car, it's possible these could be missing.
  3. New Car Rental Costs - It's a pain but just know you will get charged for a new rental and we will sort out the issue later, knowing you didn't damage the car or cause the break-down.