Legislation Would Allow Some Rental Car Companies To Rent Vehicles Under Recall If They Give Notice

In 2014, auto manufacturers recalled nearly 60 million vehicles, including millions that are handed from one customer to another by rental companies. While the major rental car companies promised back in 2012 that they would stop renting and leasing recalled vehicles, new legislation would allow some to send potentially dangerous cars back on the road.

Bloomberg reports that the bill, unveiled by South Dakota Senator John Thune at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee panel, would allow rental car companies to rent recalled vehicles that haven’t been repaired as long as they simply disclose the defects – and their decision not to fix them – in writing to the renter before hitting the road.

Commerce Committee spokesperson Frederick Hill tells Bloomberg that the new legislation would not preempt stronger state laws, meaning the bill won’t necessarily roll back any current consumer protections.

Several states have previously prohibited rental car companies from renting recalled vehicles to consumers, and those protections would stay in place, Hill says.

“This provision would establish a new pro-consumer requirement that the recall status of a vehicle must be disclosed before renting,” Hill said.

Still, Hill’s reassurance didn’t exactly give consumer advocates confidence in the bill, The Associated Press reports.

“Whether you’re visiting Disneyland, New York City or Mount Rushmore, or just need a safer car while your own recalled car is being repaired, you shouldn’t have to worry that it’s perfectly legal, under federal law, for a rental car company to hand you the keys to a ticking time-bomb car,” Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said.

Groups such as Consumers for Auto Reliability have long pushed Congress to pass laws that would require all rental car companies to stop allowing potentially dangerous vehicles on the road.

The most recent bill to do so, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act, failed to pass muster and died during the 2013 legislative session.

Measure to permit more rental cars under recall draws fire [Bloomberg]
Critics Say Senate Bill Would Weaken Rental Car, Rail Safety [The Associated Press]

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