Car Rental Fuel Gauge – not quite full at start of rentalBack to Forum
Anonymous9 Oct 2013
I recently rented a car [Renault Fluence 1.5 diesel]. I did not rent from one of my usual [Avis/Hertz/Eropcar] due to them being almost double the price of the next tier renters.
The Renault has an 8 segment LCD fuel gauge and all 8 were lit at the start of the rental.
30km down the road, one led went out at approx 150km, the 2nd went out!
I immediately pulled into a garage and filled up. I was able to put 14.2 litres into the tank. I also noted that the car manual suggested that the tank would hold approx 59 litres.
During the week I kept an eye on the fuel and also filled up a few times and did various “litres per 100k checks” which showed that the car was performing at approx 5.8 litres per 100k [all my driving was on motorways] and this fuel efficiency was what I would expect from an efficient diesel engine.
Having done the Maths, I conclude that the tank on initial rental was missing approx 6-7 litres of fuel but still showed as being ‘Full’
Beware!9 Oct 2013
I often find a similar case, when renting. From a raft of different companies.
Therefore, I tend to ensure that I return the car showing full, but take 50-70km out of the tank (depending on the car) after filling it.
I guess that the rental company just looks at the gauge and if it indicates full, they don’t top it up.
PS: edited as an after thought, do car fuel gauges accurately show a linear representation of the quantity, as it decreases?9 Oct 2013
In my case, the gauge was electronic with 8 led segments rather than a old fashioned dial with a pointer. I guess the latter will show up any underfill more readily.
With a 60 litre tank, and only 8 led segments, then one led might account for 7.5 litres [assuming linear usage].
IN such a car, 7 litres would get you over 100km !9 Oct 2013
I speculate, as I know little about car fuel gauges, but reflect that the display me be capable of accurate readings, but the sensor supplying them may be less so, e.g. ‘sticky’ at certain points.
I know I do not trust the veracity of fuel gauges in light aircraft and regard visual inspection or dipping to be the only realibale approach! Then again, the stakes are little higher than in a car.9 Oct 2013
I suspected for ages that VW Polos with AVIS in South Africa were lying!
I seem to be putting a lot of fuel in at the end of the rentals. It appeared that the Polo was giving 20mpg. On one rental, I went straight to the airport filling station. I took a pic of the mileage to confirm that it was filled at the beginning of the rental. I put 14 litres into a “full” tank!
Game, set and match….AVIS refunded the petrol money and reduced the final bill.9 Oct 2013
Just out of interest, does anyone else find that some cars are notorious for under reading?
I own a Peugeot 207, that never shows completely full, nor have any of the rental 207s I’ve encountered.
The hire companies knew, too, they were very relaxed about receiving them back slightly under full.9 Oct 2013
Car fuel gauges are never desperately reliable or linear. I don’t doubt most people fill the car up 30 miles before they return it.
The (spanish) practice that more concerns me is the one of providing the car with a full fuel tank at the start of the hire, charging the customer for a full tank of fuel (typically £60 – £80) and asking them to bring it back empty.
Naturally. the car never goes back empty and the next customer gets done in the same fashion.9 Oct 2013
Alamo do that in the US if you don’t have a rate which includes a full tank of fuel. Charge for a new tank of fuel at the start of the rental. Downright out of order in my opinion.9 Oct 2013
The ‘return empty’ is of course a scam, but the price of the fuel is sometimes less than the pump price to partially compensate.
I belong to the ‘fill it up and do 30 miles or so’ brigade, which of course is dishonest but everyone else is doing it so why should I be muggins that pays to fill it to the last drop when nobody else does?
The only solution is for the car rental company to fill it themselves in your presence, but that is impractical.9 Oct 2013
I had a lady at Hertz in California ask to see my receipt from where I had topped the car up to full before returning the vehicle (so to figure out just how full the car was). Even though I’d filled up a mile down the road from the airport, I declined, saying it was filled up on my credit card and the pump didn’t display. She seemed quite eager to charge people who had filled up much further down the road. I could only guess she was on some form of incentive to do so.9 Oct 2013
Even that is not an effective solution as it could have been filled up 2 miles away but stopped at the first click which generally leaves space for another 5 litres or so, or simply by watching the gauge unit it appears full. Plenty of ways round that.9 Oct 2013