Kauai’s car rental shortage crisis has subsided going into Fall 2021 with demand and prices returning to near normal. A recent check at the Lihue Airport saw plenty of vehicles available in rental parking lots, and no angry crowds. The peak summer season saw tourists scrambling for rental cars after the COVID pandemic prompted car rental companies to ship unused vehicles to the mainland. More than a few tourists were stood up by car rental companies this summer despite having prior reservations.
However, a new problem has emerged concerning car rentals on Kauai. Many of the vehicles that weren’t shipped back to the mainland were parked in a field near the Lihue Airport. The vehicles were exposed to the elements for approximately a year. Many vehicles were not started and there was little to no maintenance on the sitting vehicles during the storage. As a result, some vehicles now have rust and mechanical issues that are manifesting during vehicle rentals.
Our advice is to check all rental vehicles thoroughly upon receipt. Take photos of all sides of the vehicle and note any rust or damage. Also carefully inspect the interior. Ask at the rental counter if you can get a lower mileage vehicle which may have less wear and tear. Take note of any unusual noises and document any problems. Immediately report any concerns to the car rental company for further instructions.
This Jeep Wrangler, rented in September 2021, had quite a bit of rust along with a wheel issue. There was a ticking noise from the driver’s side rear from the start that only got worse, reports the renter. The driver found missing bolts after the vehicle began to wobble.
Looking ahead to the Christmas holidays, which has visitor numbers on par with the summer months, it’s possible there could be another rental car shortage. However, rental car companies have been replenishing their stocks with new shipments from the mainland. If you’re planning a holiday visit to Kauai around Christmas through New Years, reserve your vehicle now.