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The NHTSA Probes How Car Rental Companies Handle Recalls

2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser

2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated an audit query into the practices of car rental companies concerning their handling of manufacturers’ recalls of vehicles in their fleets. The NHTSA will be looking at 3 million General Motors, Ford and Chrysler products that were sold to rental companies and subsequently recalled in the last ten years.

According to an article at Detroit News, the NHTSA wants to get a handle on how rapidly and efficiently the repairs are performed by the industry as a whole and by individual rental companies as well. The probe is the result of allegations made to the agency about injuries and deaths occurring in vehicles that were leased while there were unresolved recalls outstanding on them.

This issue was news earlier this month when Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) asked in a letter that the Federal Trade Commission require of the nation’s largest car rental company, Enterprise Holdings, the same rules that apply to car dealers concerning the repair of recalls. Currently car dealers are prohibited from selling cars on which recalls have not been resolved.

The practice of renting cars without addressing their recalled status tragically came to light in the wake of a $15 million settlement that Enterprise-Rent-A-Car reached with the parents of two sisters who died when the recalled PT Cruiser they rented crashed. Two consumer groups then petitioned the F.T.C. to require car rental companies to fix recalls before renting vehicles. It was this effort that Schumer signed onto recently.

Enterprise’s position has been that they defer to the car manufacturer’s recommendations concerning taking vehicles off the road. An Enterprise spokeswoman said that any car that has been grounded by a car company has a hold put on it and not rented.

The sample of cars that the NHTSA is looking at was dictated by the kinds of cars that exist in rental fleets. Enterprise issued a statement saying that they would be cooperating with both the NHTSA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  

[Detroit News, All Car Advice]

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