Last Updated on July 16, 2023 by Kristin
If the battery dies in your rental car, there’s a good chance you might be able to get the issue fixed on your own — but you should be clear-eyed about what the rental agency will pay for and when you’ll foot the bill. Here’s what to do if your rental car has a dead battery.
Your first call should be to the rental car company’s dedicated roadside assistance line or customer service number. If you bought the roadside assistance over the counter, the rental car company is responsible for covering the labor cost for replacing the battery.
Car batteries can die for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common are:
- Leaving the car radio or lights on too long
- An old, worn-out battery that needs to be replaced
- Damaged components, such as the alternator or terminals
- Cold weather that rapidly drains the battery’s life
If you have a dead battery because you accidentally left on an interior light, simply jumpstarting the vehicle might get it working again. But the jumpstart method may not work if the alternator or another malfunctioning component is responsible for the battery losing its charge.
What to Do If Your Rental Car’s Battery Dies
If you’ve tried to jumpstart the battery, try whatever roadside assistance you have access to. If you shelled out for the rental company’s roadside assistance, use it. You can use AAA’s roadside assistance if you’re a member. Credit card benefits usually cover dead batteries, tire changes, fuel delivery, lockout services, and basic winching.
What may dismay a lot of renters is that roadside assistance does not necessarily cover the cost of the new battery or tire itself—just the labor cost. What may dismay a lot of renters is that roadside assistance does not necessarily cover the cost of the battery itself—if it turns out the battery died because of driver behavior.
Always document any roadside assistance you receive, and keep any receipts for towing expenses or other charges. This will help make a case later if the rental car company does decide to assess any other charges.
What if You Didn’t Purchase Roadside Assistance?
After notifying the rental car company of the incident, you’ll need to arrange roadside assistance on your own. Before calling for a mechanic or a tow truck, find out if you are eligible for free roadside assistance through your credit card, personal auto insurance or membership in a club or organization.