Is your car rental company taking care of manufacturer recalls in a timely manner? Odds are, they’re not.
For many recalls, it’s not a huge deal. But every now and then, something horrible happens — such as a PT Cruiser which caught fire, leading its occupants to lose control and crash. After five years of litigation, Enterprise Rent-a-Car admitted liability, for not getting a hood fire recall taken care of.
Subsequently, the federal government has looked into rental car recall management:
In November, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was looking at nearly 3 million recalled vehicles from General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC that were sold to rental car companies to see how quickly they are repaired.
Rental car companies are not legally required to complete recalls before they rent the cars to customers.
Some safety advocates have raised alarms that some consumers are unknowingly driving vehicles that were recalled and not repaired.
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.
I’m sorry, but that’s pretty weak: If a “hold” is placed on a specific VIN, it can be plugged into the database and blocked from rental. Dealerships are located nationally, so a repair can be taken care of anywhere. This lax attitude shouldn’t be given a pass.
For what it’s worth, the rental car companies are still apparently better at handling recalls than most individuals, “who often fail to get recalled vehicles fixed.” (No specific stat given, alas.)
If you’re concerned about your rental, I suppose you could fire up the internet and check the car’s VIN against the manufacturer’s recall database online. But will you, really?
For your convenience, here are the recall links for Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda. GM, Hyundai, and Kia, each of which are frequently included in the rental car pool, add an unfortunate hurdle to their search and require you to register as an owner on their website, which you probably don’t want to do with a rental car. Alternatively, call the toll-free customer service for the manufacturer if you’re concerned.
…But will you really check?