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Here’s a simple and essential car rental tip that will save a lot of time, money and hassle: When renting a car in Europe, make sure you know if it requires diesel or unleaded gas.
Why, you ask? Allow us to demonstrate photographically what happened on a recent journey when we overlooked this critical step. Come, Cheapos, let’s take a ride…
Step 1: Fill ‘er up
Unleaded? Diesel? Who cares! Just fill ‘er up. In our case, we filled up a diesel-only car with unleaded gas.
Step 2: Hit the beach
Drive (a short distance) to a picturesque location and park the car. For us, it was Lake Como, Italy, where we spent the day swimming and frolicking, nary a care in the world.
Step 3: Try to start car and panic
When the car doesn’t start and you realize that you didn’t use diesel, go ahead and briefly freak out, perhaps for three or four minutes. Then, if you don’t speak Italian, do your best mime routine to the locals and hitch a ride on the back of their ninja motorcycle.
Step 4: Back to the beach
After repeating your mime act at the gas station – much to the delight of both yourself and the assembled audience – hop in a car with the head mechanic and drive back to your stranded car. (Preferably, your car ride should follow directly behind a circus trolley that is inexplicably carrying the head mechanic’s children.)
Step 5: Get towed
Watch with embarrassed relief as your car is hoisted onto the back of a flatbed truck to take you to the gas station.
Step 6: Say goodbye to paradise
Snap a photo and wave goodbye to Lake Como from inside the car (there’s not enough room in the truck’s cabin, natch) as you make your way to the gas station.
Step 7: De-gas and re-gas
Hang around the gas station and watch all the “bad gas” get sucked out of your car’s tank. Try not to concentrate on how much the gas originally cost. Pose confidently for a photo.
Step 8: Learn your lesson
Swear you’ll never do this again. Yet allow yourself to appreciate the experience you just had.