Crashing a Rental Car in Malaysia

Ever wonder what happens when you crash a rental car in Malaysia?  You’ve come to the right place!



We had a rather seamless morning transferring from our hotel to the Siem Reap airport & boarded our flight to Kuala Lumpur with minimal struggle aside from an early morning wake up call.  To that point, the worst part of our morning was Air Asia not allowing us to bring our just-purchased (and much needed) cappuccinos on board.

The flight was short & smooth, but things started to go down hill when we arrived in KL.  First we sat and had a coffee while trying to log onto the airport’s free wifi to no avail.  I ended up using my phone as a hot spot (which isn’t expensive at all..ha!) to help us figure out where & how we were going to pick up our rental car.  This is when I realized I had rented a car that was garaged in downtown Kuala Lumpur, which is about an hour from the KL airport.

Before we embarked on this adventure, we popped into a Subway to grab a sandwich to-go.  Once at the end of the Subway assembly line, they informed us it was cash only.  Perfect! We don’t have any!  In order for our sandwiches to be handed over they required one of us stay, while the other withdrew cash from an ATM.  This is our second food related hostage situation in Asia.  Brigette scours the airport for an ATM that will actually allow her to withdraw money, while I sit in waiting with our precious sandwiches.

Now approaching noon, we needed to get an Uber to KL to pick up our rental car.  Our driver was an expat from the midwest and he was lovely, but full of bad news.  Unbeknownst (and stupidly) we didn’t realize how widely Chinese New Year is celebrated in Malaysia.  Our expat friend let us know that virtually the entire population of KL gets on the road to head to their homes outside of the city.  We told him we where headed about 3 hours north to Pangkor Laut Resort, and he all but laughed in our faces.  He said even if we left straight away, we would still be hard pressed to make it to Lumut before noon at night.  (Boy, was he right)

With our sandwiches still marinating in our bags, we finally made it through the bustling traffic of KL and arrived at the building where the rental car company was housed.


We rushed through the rental car paperwork, paying minimal attention to any of the details of the contract.  We were both HANGRY and anxious to eat and get started on our long drive.  Our car was down in the parking garage below the building, so our rental agent guided us down to it & we inspected the car for any pre-existing damages together.  He surveyed each panel and noted any scratches or dents, which is rather funny in hindsight.

Because the car was parked in an underground garage, we weren’t able to get a signal to the GPS, and we also had to meet our rental agent at the exit gate so he could open it for us.  Before we knew it we were out in the bustling midday traffic of Kuala Lumpur without a clue where to turn.  This wasn’t my first time driving a car on the opposite side of the road, but it is not a skill that comes easy to me.  While looking for a place to pull over to get our GPS set & finally eat our now 3 hour old sandwiches, I  ran the entire passenger side of the car into the steel flatbed of a truck.

In my delirious state, I told Brigette to pull the dangling sideview mirror into the car and we’d deal with it once we returned to KL to return the car.  She rolled the window down to comply, grabbed the mirror, then tried to put the window back up.  The window wouldn’t go back up, which lead me to exclaim “I can’t believe they would rent us a car with a faulty window!!”.  Brigette remained silent & opened the door to survey the damage.  Her facial expression said it all.  She climbed back in and told me it was bad; the whole side of the car was banged up, complete with a giant hole that exposed the inside of the engine .  To top it off, the door also wouldn’t shut once it was opened.  A hairy drive back to the rental agency, whilst Brigette held the door shut, we phoned our agent to let him know of the disaster.  It was no more than 15 minutes after he had let us out of the parking garage…


With our tails tucked between our legs, we went back up to the rental office to find out how much this would cost us, and if we could obtain another rental car.  The former was not such bad news, only setting us back about $700, but the latter was a much bigger challenge.  Because it was Chinese New Year there was barely another rental car to be had in all of KL.

By some divine intervention, a random office in the building let us use their wifi, so we could try to book another rental car.  To our surprise, we found another car (at twice the price) that was garaged about 40 minutes away at an agency scheduled to close in ONE HOUR.  We climbed into the Uber of a generous soul, who helped us more than we ever could’ve imagined.

While sitting in horrific traffic our Uber driver helped us call the rental agency to ensure they wait for us to arrive, so we wouldn’t be stranded in KL for the night (which wouldn’t have been so bad had we not already paid for an expensive over-water bungalow for that night).  He also informed us, like our last Uber driver, that traffic was going to be horrific that night.  YUP, GOT IT. IT’S CHINESE NEW YEAR.

At one point I turned to Brigette and asked if she was as frazzled & anxious as I was, to which she responded with this…


She had pealed every last bit of her manicure off in the previous two hours.  I, on the other hand, had been nervously pulling at my hair so much I’m surprised I wasn’t bald by this point.

We made it to the new rental office, with the help of our Uber driver & acquired a new car successfully.  Our Uber driver, not only stayed with us to ensure our safety & confirm we in fact got into another rental car, he also gave us directions & checked in with us later in the evening to make sure we had got on the road safely.  If I could credit him, I would shout it from the rooftop, but I no longer have his info.  The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze us.


We sat in our newly acquired rental car (which we’re fairly certain was just an employee’s car, given the amount of personal items in the glove box) and hoovered our lunch, before embarking on what would be the absolute worst drive of our lives.

Next up:  How (singing voice) a three hour tour, ahhhh three hour tour…turned into a 12 hour ordeal & ended with us looking like this…

To Gilligan’s Island, plz Cappy!






  1. Hanani

    September 19, 2016 at 12:11 am

    Ahh you were in my home ground!!!
    Anyways, traffic during CNY is always bad. In fact, traffic during any public holidays is bad. Going out of KL, I mean. This is the time when you will spend too much on flight tickets or too long on the road.
    But I hope you’ve enjoyed Pangkor Laut. It’s a beautiful resort! Their sister resort is equally as fab – Tanjong Jara 🙂


      September 21, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      Too long on the road is an understatement! We were totally defeated by the time we reached Pangkor Laut. Thank God it was as lovely as we had imagined! I’ll have to check out that sister resort!

  2. Kelly Turpin

    September 19, 2016 at 1:20 am

    OMG! What an ordeal. LOL you poor girls! KL has good, cheap public transport. Try it next time 🙂 Hey, your hours-old sandwiches didn’t make you sick did they?


      September 21, 2016 at 10:38 pm

      LOL! Thanks, Kelly. The resort was 3 hours away, so public transport wasn’t an option however that fancy train to KLIA was amazing!

  3. Kari (Happy Coconuts Travel Blog)

    September 19, 2016 at 1:46 am

    Crashing a car in a foreign country is terrifying! I crashed one in Brazil once, yikes. Glad you’re OK!


      September 21, 2016 at 10:39 pm

      Yikes! I’m sure equally as terrifying. The hardest part was still needing to drive after it happened!

  4. Gareth

    September 19, 2016 at 4:08 am

    I have been is a similar situation before I can attest that it is indeed the worst kind of face-palming moment. Sorry for the ordeal you had to go through and as Kelly states in the comment above, perhaps stick to public transport next time. Pretty cheap and come with significantly less chance of disaster


      September 21, 2016 at 10:41 pm

      So embarrassing! Public transit wasn’t an option, but we’re now more likely to pay someone else to drive us!

  5. Marinel

    September 19, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Tough time but it ended well. Glad it worked out. On a separate note, I can’t believe Uber is all over the world now! I’m starting to think they are akin to starbucks! But in a good way because obviously Uber saved you in this case. Keep safe!


      September 21, 2016 at 10:43 pm

      Uber is a god send for us. Our favorite thing about Uber is not having to exchange any cash. Since we’re always working in different currencies and trying to remember the conversion it almost always ends poorly!

  6. neha

    September 20, 2016 at 8:00 am

    OMG! What a narrow escape. You had a hard time, still glad you were safe and sound finally


      September 21, 2016 at 10:43 pm

      Thanks, Neha!

  7. Sudipto De

    September 21, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    This kind of crazy stuff makes you really believe in the kindness of strangers. It was a good thing they did not call up the police.


      September 21, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      Right!? We’re always paying tribute to the strangers that have been so kind to us! And, yes about the police, luckily the truck had zero damage & actually didn’t even notice it happened!

  8. Vladu

    October 1, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Awfull experience. Luckily I don´t even have a driving license 😀

  9. Lena

    October 12, 2016 at 8:34 am

    OMFG that IS a shit day, probably the worst! But glad that you still can write with irony and make me laugh and that you came out of it unharmed, even though you bank account didn’t .. but that’s just money, right?

  10. Dee

    January 8, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Omg Im really laughing but im sure at the time it wasnt so funny! I didnt try driving thank goodness! Used the local car hires. Sounds like a very memorable adventure!
    Great advice!

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