As of this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires rental car agencies to fix any and all open safety defects before renting out vehicles to customers. The new legislation requiring it was recently passed by the Congress in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015.
“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 U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I thank Congress and the safety advocates who helped turn this common-sense idea into law.”
Federal law now prohibits any company or dealer with fleets greater than 35 vehicles to rent unrepaired recalled vehicles. It also extends NHTSA’s recall authority to cover rental car companies for the first time, giving the safety agency power to investigate and punish violators.
The legislation 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.
In 2014, there were close to 900 recalls affecting 51 million vehicles nationwide. NHTSA has stated it will seek 100 percent remedy completion rates in open recalls.
Consumers can use NHTSA’s free 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 NHTSA with concerns related to the safety of their vehicles due to defects and recalls by visiting www.safercar.gov or calling 1-888-327-4236.