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Flat tire on the Big Island...options?

Ann in CA

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After a great week at Kauai Lagoons, Kalanipu'u, we are at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, and yesterday our rental car had a flat tire in Hawi, about 30 minutes north. Having called the Kona Airport Budget, never reaching a live person when our Hawaiian flight from Kauai was delayed (actually turned around on the Honolulu runway to go back due to a stabilzer malfunction) we knew to go immediately to their road service. However, all they could do was put the small spare on so we could drive back to the Mauna Kea. (At least in time for the amazing sunset)

So my question is, will Budget send us a new car so we do not have to go back to the worst wait (one hour) we have ever had for a rental? This is an achingly beautiful resort, and we really do not want to give up half of one of our last two days here. We are here on a 5 day Marriott travel package, (ocean front upgrade, champagne on arrival!) so not even our usual 7 day exchange to play with. On top of that, my husband's birthday is today. So, I will try the local number again, but if I have to go to the 800 number, what are the chances the'll do an exchange for us here at the Mauna Kea. Mahalo!
Ann

Later...
Tried Budget Road service number, where a real person was able to say they would have to tow the new car out, and the original car back at an unknown charge. Live Costco Travel transferred us to a recorded wait, so that's it for today! We booked through Costco, but not willing to OK a blank check car exchange, so we'll do an early AM drive to the airport tomorrow, and skip the potential Sunday airport madness today.
 
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dioxide45

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I think that only the local Budget office can really help you with this. I don't see them driving from Kona to do an exchange for you. They would want you to go to them to do the exchange. We had a similar situation in Florida with Alamo. Our car had a low oil life on it when we picked it up. We didn't know if it had just not been reset or if the oil life was actually low. We called them and they said we could go back to MCO to switch it out. We took our chances.

If you only have a couple days left there and no major excursions where you would be driving, I would just wait and return it with the spare on the car.
 

VacationForever

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We picked up a bad "luxury" (BMW) rental car (either Budget or Alamo - rented via Costco) from airport at Scottsdale - rattling steering and shaking car when whenever we stepped on the brakes. Spent 2 hours trying to find someone to speak with. Finally got connected to someone at the airport rental place and they sent out a replacement at the resort. I think it is all about whether you find the right person to speak with.
 

Ann in CA

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I think that only the local Budget office can really help you with this. I don't see them driving from Kona to do an exchange for you. They would want you to go to them to do the exchange. We had a similar situation in Florida with Alamo. Our car had a low oil life on it when we picked it up. We didn't know if it had just not been reset or if the oil life was actually low. We called them and they said we could go back to MCO to switch it out. We took our chances.

If you only have a couple days left there and no major excursions where you would be driving, I would just wait and return it with the spare on the car.

Thanks Dioxide!
That is our best option. With check out not until noon here, and the most beautiful beach and grounds, (booked as a category 7, now 8) we had planned to leave right at noon on Tuesday, which would put us at the airport about two hours before our flight. My only hesitation would be in trusting that spare. We really would not want to miss that flight, unlikely I know, and of course it could have happened with the regular tire!

We have been so lucky with rental cars for many years, guess we were due for a little hiccup. Mahalo!
 

Ann in CA

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We picked up a bad "luxury" (BMW) rental car (either Budget or Alamo - rented via Costco) from airport at Scottsdale - rattling steering and shaking car when whenever we stepped on the brakes. Spent 2 hours trying to find someone to speak with. Finally got connected to someone at the airport rental place and they sent out a replacement at the resort. I think it is all about whether you find the right person to speak with.


If we could just get a live person at the local number, think that exchange here would be the best. If they aren't willing to drive the original car with the spare back to the airport, but have to use a tow truck, why should we drive it? However, I'm through spending any more of this gorgeous day thinking about it. No sign of typhoon effects on the Kahala Coast! It is just spectacularly beautiful!
Mahalo sptung!
 

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How bad is the flat?

You might consider taking it to a garage and having it patched, which shouldn't cost much and be a lot quicker than taking it in or risking a flat in the spare on the way back.
 

dioxide45

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How bad is the flat?

You might consider taking it to a garage and having it patched, which shouldn't cost much and be a lot quicker than taking it in or risking a flat in the spare on the way back.

Depends how it went flat. If it was a blowout, a repair could be costly. A new tire, a new rim could cost well over $100. If it is just a hole in the tread, that is about $15 to get fixed since they can plug it.
 

lynne

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How bad is the flat?

You might consider taking it to a garage and having it patched, which shouldn't cost much and be a lot quicker than taking it in or risking a flat in the spare on the way back.

Since Ann is at the Mauna Kea, the closest service stations are in Kawaihae and will probably not be of much help unless you have an appointment for service.

When we had a flat on our personal auto and AAA came out to put the 'donut' spare on the car, we had not trouble driving 60 miles to Costco to get a new set of tires.

As long as you stay at around 50mph, there should not be any problem getting the rental back to the airport. It is only a 30 mile drive from Mauna Kea.
 

BJRSanDiego

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Plugging a tire is usually very easy, assuming that the OP picked up a nail, a piece of glass or something similar (which is probably the most common situation). If he/she were in an area with a Target, Costco, Walmart or automotive store, they would have a patch/plug kit for probably around $5.

You pressurize the bad tire with air at a service station, either listen closely or pour some soapy water on the tire and look for bubbles (that's where the leak is). Then you take the gooey/stringy plug and jam it into the hole with the tool that comes with the plug kit. It may help to smear some rubber cement into the hole and on the stringy plug, but I don't think that it is really 100% necessary. I think that many off-roaders don't bother with the cement. It's about a 5 minute job if you are at the service station.
 

Ann in CA

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Thanks everyone! We did take the car back to the airport the day before we flew out, as we planned to (and did) have a leisurely buffet breakfast on the gorgeous terrace of Mauna Kea's Manta restaurant our last day.

No wait that morning at Budget, and they apologized for the tire problem and for not being able to reach their local office by telephone. They said they do answer, but afternoons are so busy they may have had no one able to get to the phone. The gentleman helping us switch the cars was new, but the woman helping the person next to us had silently kept track of what he was doing, and on our way out said "We'll take $25 off for your trouble", so although my husband had been pretty annoyed about the whole experience, the spirit of Aloha prevailed on both sides. We love Hawaii!
 
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