David Tracy:

Almost 90 minutes exactly from calling Turo—and three hours after breaking down—the police officer sitting behind KITT on the shoulder could go on her merry way, as an extremely talkative but pleasant tow truck driver had shown up in his Hino truck.


He lowered the ramp, hooked up the car, and pulled KITT onto the flatbed. Andrew and I jumped into the truck’s bench seat, and after enduring two hours of non-stop talk from the jovial tow-truck driver, not to mention a seat about as nice as what you get in a school bus, we finally made it back to LA.


More specifically, Andrew and I had made it back to KITT’s owners house, where I had an epiphany. Clearly the car wasn’t getting enough fuel, I reasoned, so what if we just pulled the coolant temperature sensor. That should enrich the mixture.

I popped the hood “one last time,” yanked the coolant temperature sensor, and asked Andrew to turn the key. Vroom! The engine roared to life. Andrew hadn’t seen what I had done, and was incredulous. This would have been a nice thing to have tried on the side of the busy highway, but it was at least cool to see the engine back up and running, even if it wasn’t exactly running properly.


After walking home to Andrew’s house, because of course we had depleted our phones’ batteries, Andrew and I drove to O’Reilly Auto Parts, and—with KITT’s owner’s permission—we swapped the coolant temperature sensor, and plugged the connector back in. Sadly, the vehicle didn’t fire up.


We never did figure out what exactly was causing the lean condition—perhaps it was vacuum leaks, ruined wiring, a bad computer, or a ruptured fuel pressure regulator.

Andrew Collins:

But we did make it to Radwood, in case you were worried, by driving a borrowed brand new Volvo XC40 straight up the 5 interstate and back again the Sunday of the show.


Days later, KITT was taken to a professional mechanic as its owner scoured Firebird forums for insights. The mechanic suspected a bad fuel pump, forums seem to indicate the ignition module inside the distributor may be at fault (maybe both!), but obviously nothing that could have been fixed with the limited tools and zero parts David and I had during our stint on the shoulder of the 101.

So there were some lessons here. For one thing, yes, you really do have to be mentally prepared for a little impromptu wrenching if you take an old car on a long trip. But also, it’s important to realize that cars on Turo aren’t exactly rigorously inspected before you’re allowed to rent them. Per the company’s spokesperson:

“The overall process to list a classic or specialty car is the same as other cars, the car owner confirms the car’s info including mileage, no salvaged title, year, make, etc. When the model year for an acceptable classic car is selected (older than model year 1990) an additional box in the listing flow appears and that prompts the host to report the cars estimated market value (which cannot exceed $85k in the US, $75k in Canada/Germany), mechanical condition, seatbelts, and a brief free form note about the car.

Once that information is submitted there is an additional review process. What’s unique about this process is that it’s not automated, our team manually reviews each submission to confirm that the car is in good condition and appropriate for the marketplace.

In line with our normal vehicle inspection requirements, any reports or incidents that bring to our attention that the car is not in peak mechanical condition we delist the car and require a full mechanical inspection before the car can be re-listed on the marketplace.”


Turo sees photos and gets info from the car’s owner before it’s put into rotation, but nobody’s physically inspecting or test driving these cars besides the hosts and renters. That doesn’t mean they’re unsafe, it just means that you’re mostly counting on the host to keep their car in good shape before it’s handed off to you.

“If a guest’s Turo car breaks down on a trip they would typically work with customer support to get them into a different car or customer support would connect them with our sales team who will help book another car,” the spokesperson also told us.


In a big city like Los Angeles, you’d have no problem finding another Turo car, even though you’d probably be bummed to have to take a second choice car at the last minute. But you still have more control over what you’re driving that you would at a big chain car rental place.


Of course, a chain would also have a bigger support network and typically only rents reliable models of cars without too many miles on them.

I’m still planning on putting a couple thousand miles on a Turo Range Rover for my honeymoon. I guess we’ll see how that goes. In any case, Turo’s a cool way to borrow interesting vehicles you might not otherwise be able to drive. But just remember that your hero cars might not be as invincible as they looked on TV or in magazines.