Should Rental Car Companies Be Allowed To Rent Out Recalled Vehicles?

Every year, several million cars are recalled for repairs that cover everything from the most minor safety concerns to potential death traps. But some rental companies continue to hire out vehicles that haven’t been repaired, even months or years after the recall announcement.

USA Today recently reviewed documents submitted by Chrysler and General Motors to NHTSA and found out some interesting info regarding the lack of priority given to getting recalled vehicles repaired:

The documents show that no major auto-rental company fixed all its recalled vehicles within a year. GM documents, for example, show that a year after getting a recall notice about a shift lever indicator problem in 2009 Buick Enclaves, Chevrolet Cobalts and seven other types of vehicles in their fleets, Avis Budget had fixed 35% of them. The documents show that Enterprise fixed 34% of these types of vehicles in their fleets within 30 days after the recall, 52% within 60 days, 62% within 120 days and 74% within a year.

In 2011, the Government Accountability Office issued a report saying that all rental companies decide on either a “hard hold,” in which cars are grounded until repaired, or a “soft hold,” where the vehicles are allowed to be rented.

However, Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz all tell USA Today that they ground recalled vehicles until repairs are finished. But an Enterprise rep says that sometimes they can remedy a recall without having to actually take a car to the dealership.

For instance, Enterprise said it was able to immediately resolve the Toyota recall for improperly secured floormats by simply removing all the mats from affected vehicles.

But some safety advocates think that, considering how many cars are purchased and sold by rental companies, more oversight is needed.

“The rental car industry is the single largest purchaser of new cars, and the single largest source of used cars in North America, yet they have escaped all regulation and oversight from (NHTSA),” says Cally Houck, whose daughters died in a 2004 incident involving an Enterprise vehicle that had been recalled but not repaired.

Houck has started a petition on change.org asking Enterprise to stop its reported opposition to legislation that would prohibit rental companies from lending out recalled cars.

Safety advocates: Rental car recalls should be regulated [USA Today]