New Law Requires Rental Car Companies to Remedy All Safety Recalls Before Renting a Vehicle

The new law also extends NHTSA's recall authority to cover rental car companies for the first time

New Law Requires Rental Car Companies to Remedy All Safety Recalls Before Renting a Vehicle
Image: Pixabay
June 2, 2016

As of June 1, rental car agencies in the U.S. must now fix any and all open safety recalls on a given vehicle before that vehicle can be rented out to consumers.

The new federal law—which is part of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015—prohibits any car rental company or dealer with a fleet greater than 35 vehicles from renting unrepaired recalled vehicles.

The new law also extends the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) recall authority to cover rental car companies for the first time, giving the safety agency power to investigate and punish violators.

The law was championed by the family of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, sisters who died in a rental vehicle that was under a safety recall but had not been repaired.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind—both of whom have long advocated for safe rental cars free of open recalls—spoke about the new law this week.

"When a family picks up a rental car on vacation, they should be able to expect it is free of any known safety defect," said Secretary Foxx. "I thank Congress and the safety advocates who helped turn this common-sense idea into law."

"This law gives NHTSA one more tool to protect the safety of U.S. motorists," said Administrator Rosekind. "It's critical that every recalled vehicle, whether new, used, rented or leased, is repaired as soon as possible. Rental agencies operate some of the largest fleets, so this law will go a long way in ensuring the cars and trucks on the road are safe."

According to NHTSA—in 2015 there were 868 recalls affecting 51.3 million vehicles nationwide, many of which were part of rental car fleets.

Consumers can use NHTSA's free online Recall Look-up Tool to determine if a vehicle has an open safety recall that needs to be addressed. Vehicle owners are reminded to check for periodically and contact to NHTSA with concerns related to the safety of their vehicles due to defects and recalls by visiting Safercar.gov or by calling 1-888-327-4236.