Man Rents Out His Tesla On Turo, Discovers It Taken Apart At A Warehouse

I live in Austin and could do well renting out my house during South By Southwest, Austin City Limits, or other high demand dates in town. We’ll often leave town during these times anyway but I don’t like the idea of someone else sleeping in my bed or whatever else might happen while I’m gone.

I’ve also never quite been willing to pull the trigger renting out my car on Turo when we’re gone. Everything probably goes well most of the time, but here’s the sort of thing that makes me comfortable forgoing the income for the security knowing my car isn’t being taken apart for parts, or science experiments.

Frank Valdez rented out his Tesla Model 3 on Turo. The person who picked it up was supposedly taking it on a road trip. That is.. not what happened.

  • Turo renters: Tesla owners can track their vehicle via app, and the car has a camera
  • The camera showed the owner that something wasn’t right, so he tracked it via app to… a warehouse

The Tesla was up “on jacks and missing its front bumper.” The owner thought the man was trying to steal parts, but it turns out the rented Tesla was being used as a test vehicle for fitting an aftermarket bumper. The man who rented the car sells Tesla (and other car) parts online.

@frankvidz Good thing it has GPS and live camera footage… #Turo #tesla #carparts ♬ original sound – Frank Valdez

The confrontation between the two men was priceless. Fortunately the renter put the Tesla back together and returned it. The owner said he was going to call the cops, but that’s not a winning strategy in all jurisdictions. Here in Austin the experience of friends and neighbors won’t respond to an auto theft, though they’ll return a call after several days and provide forms by mail if necessary.

(HT: Jonathan W)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Several points here, I’ll start with a plus. It’s great that both parties were civil. I’m talking about the owner and renter — the extraneous third party (presumably the owner’s wife) was a nuisance.

    Next, has the renter actually broken any “rules and regulations” (protip: these are synonyms and anybody using this phrase is trying to sound smarter than they are) — or was he simply doing something the owner didn’t like? The renter’s obligation is to return the car in original condition. Taking apart and and putting back a replaceable part incurs no damage.

    I’d be curious if the owner was breaking any rules by filming on private property and by spying on the renter through the Tesla camera. The latter is a potentially criminal act.

  2. Further, it is well established that the photo or video publication of a non-consenting subject is against the law. We can easily presume this renter did not agree to be plastered on social media. The situation is compounded with the defamation of accusing the renter of stealing parts. As the renter, I’d be shopping around for an attorney. That could give me enough of a windfall to close shop and retire early.

  3. No Mr.K, that’s been the policy for years. It might have something to do with the police union wanting the city council to hire more cops. Look! We’re so shorthand we can’t show up for most crimes! It’s been a running battle for years. OK, you can personally insult me now…..

  4. @ayenus: Are you using the screen name of the planet where you’re licensed to practice law?

  5. @ayenus: Not in every jurisdiction. In Texas, we’re a one-party state for recording.

  6. @ayenus In 38 states you can record another party without their consent. And essentially, in all fifty states you can record another party if you’re in a public place with no reasonable of expectation of privacy.

    In addition, your understanding of defamation and “windfall” lawsuits is as clueless as your understanding of laws regarding recording video. Don’t give anyone legal advice, please.

  7. This is a civil matter, not a criminal matter. If someone willingly hands over the keys to his car police will not help to get it back. Defunded or not.

  8. Wow, surprised to see people defending the renter. Yeah, I’m not sure what is in Turo’s T&C and how much they protect against this situation. I hope the owner reports this to Turo.

    As for “incurring no damage”, I’m not sure if that is correct. First, it is not known whether the renter really just took the bumper off. Second, factory installation and garage installation don’t match in precision. It is possible that after the bumper is put back, gaps are not uniform, some rattling may occur, etc. If I was the owner, I’d have Tesla examine the vehicle and then sue the renter for the cost.

  9. Most likely the thief was removing the original parts and replacing them with after market parts. That is theft. Good luck to the citizens of Austin getting police response. You get what you vote for.

  10. Call the cops? For what? Is it a crime to remove a bumper and put it back on?

  11. @Pierre – I hope it is. Is it a crime when someone enters your home, has some of your things in his/her hands and when caught, says he/she just wanted to look at it and will put it back in place? We’re not supposed to be well-versed in crimes – when a damage is done to our property, it is normal to call the cops to protect it and start from there.

  12. @Alex what damage? What loss have you suffered because someone takes your bumper off and puts it back on?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.