Back in November, NHTSA announced that it was investigating how long it took for rental cars to be repaired under recall, saying
NHTSA understands that there is presently a petition before the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) seeking to prohibit at least one rental car company from renting vehicles on which safety recall campaign remedies remain outstanding.
Because only vehicles made by the Detroit Three are under investigation, they are the only firms who have been asked to disclose how long it takes rental fleets to repair their vehicles. And, according to the Detroit News
GM and Chrysler told NHTSA this week that 30 days after a recall — 10 to 30 percent of vehicles sold to rental car companies had been repaired.
By 90 days, it had improved to about 30 percent and within a year, the number had improved to 50 percent or higher.
Ford did not make its data public, citing the fact that the release of the information could damage it is relationship with rental car companies and result in “decreased sales of motor vehicles to rental car fleets.”
Rental car companies are not legally required to complete recalls before they rent the cars to customers.
It turns out that the FTC petition was filed by the Ralph Nader-founded Center for Automotive Safety, which sought to force Enterprise Rent-A-Car to repair its recalled vehicles before renting them out. The petition stems from an incident in which two women died in an unrecalled PT Cruiser that caught fire. But, argue rental car firm advocates, targeting rental fleet recall compliance just isn’t fair.
Bob Barton, president of the American Car Rental Association noted, that hundreds of recalls and service bulletins affecting millions of vehicles in North America are issued annually.
“In most cases, members place a ‘hold’ on recalled vehicles so they are not rented until the recall work is completed,” he said.
Because rental cars move around so much it can take weeks or months for the company to find out a model has been recalled, thus taking much longer for repairs to be done, advocates said.
Rental car companies generally have better repair rates than consumers, who often fail to get recalled vehicles fixed.
But then, consumers who experience defects because they do not service their recalled vehicles have only themselves to blame. Consumers who rent vehicles, on the other hand. should probably be able to expect them to be free of dangerous defects. If nothing else, complying quickly with recall repairs would help rental fleet owners avoid legal liability. Still, current laws only prevent rental fleets from selling unrepaired recaled vehicles… there are no current laws requiring fleet owners or private consumers from repairing recalled vehicles. NHTSA’s investigation into the matter is ongoing.