Driving Around an Unrepaired Recalled Rental Car – Safe?
It seems that rental car companies don’t like having their cars recalled by manufactures. They don’t like it so much that quite often, they don’t have the repair completed. Quite literally, millions of Americans drive around rental cars that have recalls affected them each year. A new law might just force rental companies to suck it up and get it fixed.
Legislation introduced in both the Senate and in the House, aims to mandate that all rental car companies and used car dealers address recalls affecting their vehicles prior to them being rented or sold. Leading the charge in the Senate is U.S. Sens Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both D-Calif. They both say this is a big national safety issue and point to the 2004 death of two sisters when a recalled PT Cruiser they rented from Enterprise caught fire and crashed into a truck.
So far according to the Detroit News, “three of the nation’s four major rental car companies refused to agree to a blanket pledge not to rent or sell unrepaired recalled vehicles.” Hertz is the lone company to sign a “blanket pledge” to not rent recalled cars.
“We will not rest until Congress has passed legislation that protects American consumers from these unsafe vehicles, and we urge all the rental car companies to join Hertz in committing to the safety of their customers,” Boxer was quoted as saying in the Detroit News.
For its part Enterprise says that it can’t find another instance where a recalled rental car caused any death. They point out that many of the recalls are for so many minor issues that it would be a huge expensive removing cars from its fleet to fix these items.
Feeling the heat, Enterprise said in a May, 2012 letter that it would stop renting unrepaired rental cars. Thomas Laffey, Enterprise’s general counsel, said they would look for Federal legislation to make the repairs mandatory (thus, creating an even playing field) while looking for an exemption for minor repairs.
What also makes this more interesting is that used-car dealers don’t have to fix recalled vehicles either. The Detroit News reported that “Current law doesn’t require owners to fix recalled used cars or disclose that they have been recalled. A few states require new car dealers to repair some used recalled vehicles before selling. But most used cars don’t have to be fixed before being sold.”
Weighing in on this matter is NHTSA Administrator David Strickland (surprised?) who wants his agency to have the power to mandate that rental companies and used-car dealerships address the recalls prior to the vehicles leaving their possession.
As a sign of how big this issue is, General Motors and Chrysler Group told NHTSA that it takes more than 90 days before 30 percent of rental cars are repaired. On the bright side, after a year, 50 percent of them are fixed.
Enterprise, of course, disputes this number and says it is closer to 90 percent of recalled vehicles have the issue addressed within 30 days.
Hmm… Who to believe, the manufacture or the rental car company?
What do you think? Are recalls that big of a deal? Should rental/used-car dealers address recall prior to you renting/buying?
Filed Under: Auto News