Everyone looks forward to the warmer months of the year. During this time, kids are out of school and many adults have some time off work. However, those who run rental car companies got a bit of a surprise. According to federal law, all these rental services had to fix any open safety defects on their rental vehicles prior to renting the vehicles to customers. According to the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – NHTSA – Congress passed this legislation as a part of the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) of 2015.
This new law strictly prohibits any dealer or company with a fleet of rental vehicles (more than 35) from any renter that has a vehicle with an unrepaired from renting it. It also extends the recall authority of NHTSA to cover a rental car company for the first time, providing this agency with the ability to not only investigate, but also punish any violators.
Prior to the bill being passed, it was still legal, according to federal law to rent vehicles that had not yet been repaired. With the bill in place, the rental fleet operators now have a total of 24 hours from the time they receive notification of the recall to have the vehicle fixed or parked until the necessary repairs have been made. Also, if the recall affects over 5,000 vehicles in the business’s fleet, the owner/manager has 48 hours.
This legislation was supported by the American Car Rental Association and noted that the major, reputable rental companies, such as Avis Budget, Hertz, and Enterprise had already been complying with this law prior to it going into effect.
Even though the legislation still exempts a rental company that has a fleet that is smaller than 35 vehicles, the industry association is working to push this to extend this to all rental vehicles. Also, the advocacy group, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety has stated that it is working to ensure all recalls are fixed prior to selling used vehicles. Right now, under federal law, any used vehicle is still legally able to be sold with an open safety recall.
Taking the time to learn about these regulations is important. If a person does rent a vehicle and finds that an open recall was present when they were injured or got in an accident, they may be liable for compensation from not only the at-fault party but also from the rental company that did not provide the recall repair.