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Rental car with horrible cigarette smell - how to avoid it in the future?
Old 04-06-2014, 05:30 PM   #1
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Rental car with horrible cigarette smell - how to avoid it in the future?

I rarely ever rented a car, this is my first in the last two years. I realized how bad the car smelled after I left the airport on Friday. Going back to the airport is not possible, I am in a different city now. This car must have been owned and driven by a smoker, perhaps on a daily basis. I used to smoke but do not recall that my car ever smelled this bad. The entire car smells like cigarette including the steering wheel.

Has this happened to you and how did you handle it.

Mp
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Old 04-06-2014, 05:38 PM   #2
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In the first place, you should demand that your entire rental fee be refunded.

Also, when you rent a car, it's wise to spend 10 minutes with it before driving off. Adjust all the mirrors and the seat to exactly match your preferences, and study the controls so you can automatically activate lights, wipers, etc.

With ten minutes of orientation like that, it's very unlikely that you would fail to notice the smoke smell.
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Old 04-06-2014, 05:48 PM   #3
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Every time I've rented a car from Hertz the rental agreement specifically states there is a $75 charge for cleaning if one smokes in the car. I would ask or a refund.
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Old 04-06-2014, 06:16 PM   #4
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If there is an office of your rental car company nearby go there and complain, call them now and go to their office ASAP. When you turn that car in they may think YOU were the stinky one..
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Old 04-06-2014, 07:23 PM   #5
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Call the toll-free number and complain. See if there is a rental office somewhere near where you are or are traveling to that you can swap the smelly car for a better one. Be insistent.
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Old 04-06-2014, 07:40 PM   #6
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I rent from Hertz frequently and, occasionally, I suspect that someone may have been smoking. I just go ahead and drive it. Hertz has never looked at (or smelled) a car that I returned, except one time I had a fender bender that I had to report. If the smoke smell is really objectionable, I would return the car. I rent from a Hertz Local Edition location in a strip mall where the cars and the attendants are within 50'. If the attendant is a smoker he or she can't tell if someone has been smoking in the car.

Smokers are interesting. They think that they don't stink. I often see drivers dangling a cigarette out of a slightly open window. Apparently, they think they are not smelling up the car. The fact is, if a heavy smoker spends a day in a rental car, the car will smell like smoke, even if the renter does not smoke in the rental car.

DW tells me that she knows when I have been around a smoker. This was unavoidable while I worked at MegaCorp. No one in our house smokes.
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:08 PM   #7
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Hertz should take care of you wherever you go, but as a short term, stop-gap measure you could stop in any supermarket and buy some Febreeze. Spraying it around in the car might make it more tolerable until you can get Hertz to do the right thing.
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:24 PM   #8
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If you had told them in this first minute of sitting in the car, they would of switched cars for you.

If there is a Hertz within 100 miles of you, they could drive another car to your location and exchange it with your car. Of course, you have to call them and ask them to do that.
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:53 PM   #9
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Call the toll-free number on your rental paperwork. Ask them to bring you a replacement car that does not have the sickening odor.

If you just show up at the return counter and ask for a refund, they may say, "Why didn't you call the toll-free number and give us a chance to remedy the problem?"

(I once got a car that had so much air freshener in it, they must have been covering up cigarette smoke. The air freshener was sickening. So I take the time now to make sure I'm not driving out with a problem.
)

Kindest regards.
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:03 PM   #10
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I had an Enterprise rental once that had paperwork in the glove box from a previous renter. The paperwork included his name, address, DL number and a credit card receipt. I have no sense of smell but DH does and he said it smelled like a smoker. Obviously, the car was not cleaned or even checked out before they rented it to me.

I called Enterprise and they asked me to take the car to a nearby office and get a replacement. They also gave me a voucher for a discount on my next rental. It was annoying but they were apologetic and wanted to make things right.
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Old 04-07-2014, 03:30 PM   #11
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This happened to me, and I insisted on a different vehicle. Jerks treated me like some fussy old lady who had to be humored - no apology whatsoever - but I didn't care.

Odor, for me, isn't the issue - my sense of smell is weak. The smoke particles actively irritate my sinuses, causing tearing eyes, coughing and (if it goes on long enough) eventually a sinus infection.

It could be hard to get your fee refunded if you've been using the car, though.

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Old 04-07-2014, 04:54 PM   #12
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I don't pull off in rental cars that stink of smoke, nor do I stay in a hotel room that stinks of smoke. If I get one whiff of cigarette smell in a car or hotel room, I complain and raise a stink of my own, and have always gotten another car, or room.

Had somebody who wanted to smoke as a passenger in my car once. They wanted to roll down the window, but I refused, and told them if they wanted to smoke, we'd pull over and he could smoke outside, but not in my car. I think it pissed him off, but I don't care. My car, my rules.

I grew up with two parents that smoked, and even as a kid, the smell disgusted me. Guess that's why I hate it so much.
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Old 04-07-2014, 06:39 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone, I was able to exchange the car at a small rental office. The only thing they had when I got there was a Ford Focus and I took it. The guy told me to call their 800 number to report the incident and hopefully get an adjustment on the rental rate to a compact car class. I will try that when I get home after the trip. Lesson learned, will never pull out of the lot with such a car ever again. I turned on the air conditioning briefly and my face smelled like an ash tray not to mention the the hand smoke issue.
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Old 04-08-2014, 02:57 PM   #14
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In reference to a previous suggestion, forget the FeBreeze--try Ozium.
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Old 04-08-2014, 05:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Payin-the-Toll View Post
In reference to a previous suggestion, forget the FeBreeze--try Ozium.
Might work better, but unlikely to be readily available in your average supermarket.
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Old 04-08-2014, 05:57 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
Might work better, but unlikely to be readily available in your average supermarket.
Walmart.
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:32 PM   #17
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Hey, it's good enough for the Pope....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Disappointed View Post
The only thing they had when I got there was a Ford Focus and I took it. .
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:36 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by MRG View Post
Walmart.
Also at Auto Zone
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