When most people think about renting a car, they probably think of companies like Enterprise, Hertz, or one of the other big players in the rental car game. That thought process is shifting nowadays, though, as car-sharing apps like Turo lets travelers rent other people's personal vehicles—which in itself is kind of a cool way to rent those electric, luxury, and sports cars that traditional rental companies don't stock. Of course, that comes with a certain risk to the owner.
Recently, TikTok user and owner of a Tesla Model 3, Frank Valdez, rented his car on Turo for the first time and things didn't go as planned. After noticing that the car was parked overnight at an auto body shop, he thought to check in on his Tesla and found that the renter had begun to disassemble his vehicle to—wait for it—test fit aftermarket parts.
The individual who rented Valdez's Model 3 did so under the premise that it was for a short trip. However, Valdez noticed that the car was immediately brought to a what Valdez identified as a mechanic. He assumed that the individual may have worked there, but when he checked on the car again after midnight, he noticed that the car had not yet moved. The following morning, Valdez went to check on the car in person when he couldn't locate it remotely (presumably, it was inside one of the garage bays) and that's when he discovered that the front bumper had been removed.
Valdez confronted the renter and assumed that he was attempting to steal parts from the car, but it seems that may not have been the case. The renter told Valdez that he was "testing some parts," including a front bumper, in the video posted to TikTok.
Clues in the video reveal the location of where the individual was storing the car in La Puente, California. The location is home to a supplier and manufacturer of aftermarket body accessories called ABS Dynamics (also known as Hang Chiang Car Refit Company), and what Valdez thought was a mechanic or auto body shop was actually a warehouse. The company offers "Sponsor Test Fit" discounts for individuals who are willing to loan out their vehicles for product development, but they also used Turo as a means to test an aftermarket bumper—which can be seen in the video—on Valdez's Tesla.
In his conversation with the renter, Valdez tells him that taking apart his vehicle was against Turo's terms of service. Turo agreed, noting in a statement to The Drive that the company forbids altering a vehicle in any way. Turo's Commercial Uses Policy also forbids a vehicle to be used for any commercial purpose, which might include test fitting a bumper for resale.
"Turo is aware of a video appearing to show a host’s vehicle being used improperly during a trip," said a Turo spokesperson in an email to The Drive. "Our team is in contact with the host and have taken action to ban the guest from Turo for violating our terms of service, which explicitly prohibit guests from making any unapproved alterations to any vehicle."
Meanwhile, ABS Dynamics confirmed to The Drive that they did rent the car with the intent of testing one of their products and did apologize to the owner. They also noted that they did not steal anything from the Tesla as the videos might infer.
This might sound like a familiar circumstance because something similar has happened in the past. In 2017, Daimler got a bit of bad press after engineers reportedly rented a Tesla Model X from a German rental agency, Sixt, in order to reverse engineer and benchmark it over the course of several weeks.
Valdez says that despite his friends making good money on Turo renting out their cars, he would no longer be renting out his Model 3. Perhaps it's also time for anyone considering renting out their personal car to remember how some people treat rentals and reconsider.