rental car issue in France

Oct 16th, 2003, 12:32 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 15
rental car issue in France

Hello everybody,

My husband and I just came back from a week of vacation in Provence. Even though we had a fabulous time there, we didn't avoid a problem with a rental car. When it was time to fill it up, we put regular gas instead of diesel. We didn't receive any info at the rental place and the car itself wasn't marked at all so we didn't know. Only after we called for a tow truck and had it fixed at the nearest garage, a mecanic found a word "diesel" on the inside on the reservoir door which you can't see if it is not fully open and you have to bend to see the label. Needless to say we paid for everything out of pocket and lost have a day (it was Sunday evening and the car broke down on a highway). I was wondering if any of you experienced travelers have any tips on whether we could recover at least some of the expenses or if there is anything to be done in this situation at all. P.S. It also turned out that other rental cars had big bright labels on the outside of the reservoir door stating what kind of gas they need.
Any help is appreciated.
mbrn is offline  
Oct 16th, 2003, 12:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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This is one of the almost inevitable hazards of European rental cars. Been there, done that...twice, in fact (though in both cases it was the spouse who filled the tank, just to be clear).

I doubt you'll get an recompense from the rental company. First of all, it WAS marked, though maybe where you couldn't see it well. Second, the type of fuel was almost assuredly explained in the car manual that came with the car. I've also rented cars where it noted the type of fuel on the key ring. In other words, had you looked (or asked), the information was undoubtedly available in several places.
Just chalk it up to experience.
StCirq is offline  
Oct 16th, 2003, 01:09 PM
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How about a trip report about the bright spots?
JoeG is offline  
Oct 16th, 2003, 02:46 PM
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Thank you for posting as this will undoubtedly make others more aware that this could happen...

One suggestion that may or may not be helpful...we had a problem with a rental car in France through Hertz and had put it on our American Express card and although we received absolutely no satisfaction through Hertz, American Express agreed with our position and reimbursed us accordingly. So, you might check it out with your credit card company.
artlover is offline  
Oct 16th, 2003, 05:03 PM
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What a shame. We rented a car in France this past summer and indeed there was a big sticker on the car, where you fill the tank, that said "diesel". Once we rented a car in Luxumberg and was told as we were about to go out the door, "Oh by the way. It takes diesel." My experience with European companies is that customer serivce is not very good, but you can always ask.
yipper is offline  
Oct 16th, 2003, 05:12 PM
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I can usually tell by the size of the opening for the fuel nozzle. The diesel nozzle is nearly twice the diameter of the gasoline nozzle. If the fuel nozzle has plenty of play in the car fuel opening, it's not a good sign.

This arrangement makes it very difficult to put diesel in a gas car but, unfortunately not the other way around. Probably because diesel will do a lot more damage to a gas engine, than gas will do to a diesel engine since diesel engines don't have spark plugs.
indytravel is offline  
Oct 16th, 2003, 05:23 PM
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The first time my spouse travelled with me to France he filled up with gazole not knowing it was Diesel. It happened at lunch time. so we had to sit and wait out the few hours til lunch was over and places reopened. Luckily, I spotted a mercedes dealer/maintenance
shop and they were able to take out the gazole and refill with regular gas.
cigalechanta is offline  
Oct 16th, 2003, 06:46 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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On our first trip to Europe in 1998, we rented a car in Paris, drove south through France, spent one night in Vezelay, then proceeded on the next morning. Stopped for gas - put gasoline in the brand new rental car, broke down on the road a few miles later. We were so worried about the cost, etc., that when the repair bill was only $100, we were so thankful that we never tried to get Hertz to reimburse us. Of course, we had the delightful experience of riding in the car on top of the tow truck, sitting in a small French garage while they worked on the car, lost most of the day, etc. Definitely know how you feel - the car was marked - we just didn't see it! Don't think it will happen to us again, as we always ask at the rental car place before leaving. Our friends still kid us about the experience! And we can laugh about it now.
blh is offline  
Oct 17th, 2003, 11:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 15
Thank you all for sharing your experiences. It definitely made me feel better and I will be happy to know that others can benefit from our story.

On a more positive note, the people who helped us out were extremely friendly and I couldn't be more grateful. Despite my broken French and their broken Eglish we found a way to communicate. They teased us about driving an american car in France (we had a Ford Focus) and highly advised to get a Renaud next time. For anybody who is interested, I will post my trip report to Provence and Cote D'Azur in a separate message.
Thank you again for kind words and good luck with your travels.
mbrn is offline  
Oct 17th, 2003, 02:31 PM
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We did the same thing--our last night in Avignon. Filled up with gas. We took the manual out to the clerk to make sure we had the right gas. Three blocks later we stopped dead. It was across from a tire place--the upshot after talking to the rental manager and the car dealer was that we left the car in the tire shop to be towed the next day. A nice couple took us back to our hotel. The next day when we went to the rental place we explained the problem with the car manual--it was the wrong manual. There was nothing ANYwhere on the car or rental agreement to indicate it was diesel. They finally said OK and nothing more was heard about it--no charges, etc. When we rented the last time we finally found the "diesel" on the fuel door.
Gretchen is offline  

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