Friday, May 11, 2012

Some Recalled Rental Cars Not Repaired

Study: 2.7M used cars for sale on Web in '11 weren't repaired

Pressure is mounting on rental car companies to repair recalled vehicles before they are rented, while a new study shows that millions of used cars aren't repaired before being sold.
A study released this week by Carfax says that last year more than 2.7 million used cars were offered for sale online with safety recalls that weren't repaired.
Under federal law, only new-car dealers are required to complete recall repairs before vehicles are sold.
Used cars and rental cars can be sold or rented without being fixed. Often, buyers or renters don't know there's a problem.
This week, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., sent letters to the four leading rental car companies and asked them to commit to protecting consumers. She noted Hertz has already adopted the policy.
Boxer's letters urged the other companies — Enterprise, Avis and Dollar/Thrifty — to follow suit, setting a 30-day deadline. If they don't agree, she said, "I will announce at that time which companies have agreed to make this pledge and which companies have instead chosen to continue putting their customers' lives at risk."
National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland told Congress in March that he wants the power to require used car dealers or rental companies to fix recalled vehicles before they are sold or rented.
In July, Boxer and Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y, introduced legislation to prohibit car rental companies from renting or selling vehicles to consumers that are under recall.
The legislation was introduced after two sisters from Santa Cruz, Calif., ages 24 and 20, were killed when a recalled car they had rented from Enterprise caught fire and crashed into a truck. A jury awarded $15 million in the crash.
Enterprise has one-third of all airport business in the United States and Canada through its three major brands: Enterprise, Alamo and National.
The company has said "when manufacturers recommend that vehicle owners park or ground their vehicles, Enterprise promptly does so."
Rental car companies generally have better repair rates than consumers, who often fail to get recalled vehicles fixed.
In June, the Government Accountability Office said NHTSA should take action to prevent millions of used-car buyers from unknowingly buying vehicles that have been recalled, but not repaired.
"With over 35 million used cars sold by used and franchised dealerships in the United States in 2009 alone, this could pose a significant risk to the safety of millions of vehicle drivers and may have a negative impact on recall completion rates," GAO said in its report.
The GAO said NHTSA should "categorize the nature of a defect (including the potential for harm) and whether the vehicle can continue to be operated would be helpful," the report said.
NHTSA opposes that idea, telling the GAO that "suggesting that some defects are more risky may have dangerous consequences — namely, that many safety defects, all of which involve an unreasonable risk, will be ignored."
NHTSA has been studying to see how quickly vehicles sold to rental car companies to see how quickly they are repaired.

General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC told NHTSA that 30 days after a recall, 10 percent to 30 percent of vehicles sold to rental car companies had been repaired.
By 90 days, it had improved to about 30 percent and within a year, the number had improved to 50 percent or higher.

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