ENDGAME: Pulled Over By Police After Toyota Dealer Rented Me A Car That Was Illegal To Drive

Chris tells us the endgame on his situation where the Toyota dealership rented him a car that was illegal to drive. He was eventually able to get a full apology from the place and get 50% knocked off his bill, but it took him showing up in person and going a few rounds with the manager.

Chris writes:

Thanks for the advice. I read the comments people posted on my story. I agree that the repair bill was very high to begin with. I took my car to the dealership because I thought that the repair would be covered entirely under the warranty, or would be something minor, like just balancing the tires. I called Toyota Warranty myself to try and argue that the rotors/pads should be covered because the damage was caused by the failing part, but they wouldn’t budge because it was ‘consequential damage’. I decided to get it repaired at the dealership anyways, because I thought it was worth paying extra to get their customer service, the nice rental, and to save myself the hassle of taking more time off work to go to another garage. As I said, I really liked the people I had dealt with when I bought the car. It was no pressure and they were reasonable in negotiations, so I got it for a very good price.

So here is how the whole thing ended. I eventually called the service desk myself, annoyed they hadn’t contacted me, and they said they were working out a deal and would call me in a few hours. They did call me, and I spoke with the assistant service manager. He brusquely apologized and offered $50 off. I said I saved them from a lot more than that in fines, and they had taken up a bunch of my time. I was firm and polite. The manager seemed indifferent, he interrupted me several times to try and speed things along, offering $100, and then asking what I thought was fair. I had considered this, and I asked for half the repair bill to be taken off. I thought that was reasonable for both of us. He said he wasn’t authorized to do that, so he would have to speak with Jamie the customer relations manager and get back to me. I asked if I could just come in and deal with Jamie directly, he said yes, and that my car was ready to be picked up.

I decided at that point to contact Toyota Corporate and see if there was anything I could do with them. They essentially took my complaint and forwarded it to the dealership, which was completely useless – as Consumerist predicted.

I left work early and drove to there with several photo copies of the ticket. I went in and asked for Jamie, they sent me to an office in the back of the service area. After knocking on his door and waiting for him to finish a phone call, we sat down. We reviewed the incident, he apologized several times on behalf of the entire dealership, but he attempted to minimize the situation, saying that the police had made mistakes, and that this had never happened before. Several times he said “No one has ever gotten pulled over in one of our rentals for something like this.”, and each time I would reply quickly but calmly “I was.” He said that they didn’t have the customer copy of the rental agreement, was I *sure* I never got it? I told him I was 100% sure. He claimed if I had the agreement, they would have let me go and there wouldn’t have been an issue (implying it was my fault). I told him that I still would have been pulled over, and even if I had the agreement and they let me go, it was hardly what I expected when I rented a car from them. I asked if he would consider it a success if every car he rented was pulled over by the police, but was let go if they showed the rental agreement. He admitted that would be a problem.

I think he realized that I wasn’t going to back down on the facts of the situation and that it would be better to just settle the matter. He got the finalized bill, which had been lowered $50 already, because with tax it was just $583. I asked him what he thought would be fair, and he said “Want to split it down the middle?” I clarified that he meant we would each pay half, then agreed that that would be fair. So my final repair bill came to $291.50, which after everything seemed like the right price to me.

Thanks for your help, consumerist!


Way to stay strong, Chris. You’ll be amazed what you can get by being firm and polite.

That dealership’s new motto: If all else fails, we have excellent customer service. — BEN POPKEN


Edit Your Comment

  1. viriiman says:

    Great to see it resolved. One request for the future: paragraphs (please).

  2. vdestro says:

    It seems that, in most “consumerist” cases, that the low level shlubs one has to deal with first is where the problems are. They wouldn’t toss a cup of water on you if your clothes were on fire.

    Once you get high enough in the food chain you start dealing with relatively reasonable people that try to work with the consumer to solve the problem.

  3. bendsley says:

    It sounds like the dealer ended up doing all right by you. Good for them. Good to see that you’re happy with the outcome of events.

  4. Juncti says:

    This is why I purchased my warranty with an outside party. I did some research and it seems that dealer warranties typically only cover failure, but not wear and tear (even wear and tear caused by their failure). Not to mention you avoid the dealer markups which was almost triple what I payed for my warranty online.

    They must have come back and asked me about 5 times if I was sure I didn’t want the warranty, each time offering another $100 off, so they are making a killing on that.

    Good to see in the end they realized the problem and at least offered what the person deemed a fair settlement.

  5. grouse says:

    vdestro: It seems that, in most “consumerist” cases, that the low level shlubs one has to deal with first is where the problems are. They wouldn’t toss a cup of water on you if your clothes were on fire.

    No, the problems are caused by policies that prohibit the “low-level shlubs” from doing the right thing. They’re purposely designed to make people jump through hoops to get resolution, knowing that most people won’t.

  6. cabalist says:


    Where did you buy your extended warranty, how much did it cost, etc? My wife and I are about to buy a Passat Wagon, want a warranty, but know better than to buy the dealer’s extended piece of —-.

  7. lore says:

    I once had an issue with a dealership putting serious swirls in my paint after a carwash. They must use really scratchy towels or something. At first, dealing with the service manager was useless — he claimed that these swirls were already on there. He said he could have their detailing department work on my car and I refused, citing that it was their detailing department that put the swirls in to begin with.

    Realizing that I had hit an impasse with the service manager, I wrote letters to manufacturer’s corporate office, the company that owned the dealership, and the General Manager. The GM called me after receiving his copy of the letter and told me he’d pay for a proper detail job. I took it to a guy who specialized in this sort of thing and paid $300 for the service. The car looked fantastic and the dealership cut me a check as soon as they received the invoice.

  8. cgarison says:

    This happens much more often than one would think. While I was home in October, I determined that my mother’s Jeep was due to have its rear axle re-built. I took the Jeep to the stealership and the quoted me three days to disassemble the axle, order the axles shafts, bearings gears and carrier and then to put it all back together. Like a good son should do, I also made sure my mother would have transportation so I took her to Enterprise and got her a PT Cruiser while her car was in the shop. Three days later I called the dealer and they told me that they had not cover off the axle and it would be a week before they had a chance to get to the Jeep. I was transfered to the service manager where he agreed to have Enterprise meet my mother at the dealer to pick up the rental car and the dealer was going to put her in one of their cars. Long story short, the next morning, Mom was pulled over by the city police and informed that the car was illegal because the temporary tag was not filled out prpoerly, there was not “rental agreement” or papaer indicating that it was a loaner, and a couple of taillights were out (on another new PT Cruiser.) The cop was nice and did not give her a ticket, but it took an hour by the side of the road to straiten out the mess with the dealer and two hours of the dealer getting the lights fixed and the paperwork in place to make the car legal.

  9. Juncti says:

    @cabalist: Warranty Direct, I got an 8 year, 120,000 bumper to bumper coverage on a 2007 Civic w/Navigation for $1,600. Includes rentals if it’s in the shop, tow charges, emergency services, and wear and tear. Only exclusions are the norm, like oil, tires, brake pads, ect. And the warranty is void if the problem is due to neglect. Like you never change oil and engine blows up.

    Google them and you’ll find them, you can go online, type in the model car and they will quote you right on the site with different packages and deductible levels. I chose the Luxury package so the Navigation would be covered and a $0 deductible, so I never have to pay anything other than the cost of the warranty.

    $1,600 for 8 years is way better than the $3,000+ for 7 years 75k miles and no wear and tear plus a $50 deductible per incident.

    Only been with them 2 weeks (just purchase the car 2 weeks ago) but they were very helpful in explaining everything and pointing me to the different packages.

  10. realityczar says:

    The repair bill seemed steep, I am glad Chris got what he feels like was a fair deal, and the dealership’s customer service skills certainly needed a good working over. Am I the only one, though, who learned that regardless of ownership, the driver is responsible for the car s/he is operating? Seems to me like Chris made a basic error here when he drove off the lot. Sure, a rental should be legal, but at the end of the day it’s the driver’s responsibility as much as the rental company’s.

  11. ronald3d says:

    What was that car type? Toyota what?
    Thank you..

  12. alarmbottle says:

    @Juncti: on Warranty Direct’s website, it says it only covers protection on cars under 60k mileage. Anyone else used this before?