GM Warned Of Rental-Car Crashes As Early As 2005

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Several years prior to the February 2014 General Motors ignition switch recall, car rental companies did their best to get the automaker’s attention regarding a series of accidents and fatalities linked to the latter’s low-cost fleet offerings.

Bloomberg reports that as early as 2005, companies such as Enterprise, Alamo and Hertz all reported accidents to GM involving the Chevrolet Cobalt. Each report noted the failed deployment of the vehicle’s airbags, such as the September 2006 fatal accident involving an Alamo unit, as well as braking and steering issues that led up to the accidents.

Though the companies did their best to get the automaker to do something, GM believed there wasn’t “sufficient information” to link the problems experienced to the accidents reported, as explained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in one of their meetings between 2005 and 2013. The reports are now part of a growing collection of evidence of both parties’ inability to act quickly prior to the February 2014 recall.

In the present, GM has modified its safety-monitoring system to handle questions and concerns from the car rental industry over potential flaws, as well as backing a U.S. Senate bill that would prohibit affected vehicles from being rented or sold without having first been repaired.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Land Ark Land Ark on Aug 01, 2014

    Sigh, and still no recall for the GTO ignitions.

  • Conslaw Conslaw on Aug 01, 2014

    Did they really "do their best" to get GM to fix the problem? They kept ordering Cobalts, etc., didn't they? If you were hurt or killed in a GM rental vehicle due to the ignition problem, I think you have another target for punitive damages, and that is the rental car company who knew there was a problem, knew or should have known that GM didn't fix it, and kept stocking and renting the cars anyway. A tougher but not completely impossible case to make would involve those who bought the affected cars used from the rental agencies.

    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Aug 01, 2014

      Interesting point in that none of the rental car companies are "captive arms" of the car makers anymore. Conceivably they could buy Corollas instead of Cobalts or Focus instead of Cobalts, etc.

  • Rday Rday on Aug 01, 2014

    the rentals knew that there was a problem but kept buying because the price from gm was so good. seems like both parties will end up having to pay for their sins.

    • TonyJZX TonyJZX on Aug 02, 2014

      as alluded to above, the big rental companies are actually financially involved with GMAC etc. so its not like they dont partially share the blame

  • CJinSD CJinSD on Aug 01, 2014

    Has anyone had their mind changed concerning GM by the revelations about their concern for the well being of their customers? It seems like most people already thought GM was a bad company and the remaining GM supporters have a Hamas-like openness to new ideas.

    • See 2 previous
    • Firestorm 500 Firestorm 500 on Aug 02, 2014

      @Kendahl When you drive the Mustang, you'll be begging them to take the G37 in on trade.