A new federal law requires rental car companies to fix any and all open safety defects before renting out vehicles to customers (NHTSA). 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 new legislation, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2015, was passed by the Congress as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, and it went into effect this month.
This law is long overdue, and we applaud the efforts of Cally Houck, the mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were killed in a 2004 crash. It took 10 years of tireless effort.
“This law gives NHTSA one more tool to protect the safety of U.S. motorists,” said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark 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.”
“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.”
This law does not cover all car rental situations, though. Any company or dealer with a fleet of rental vehicles greater than 35 cannot rent out recalled vehicles that have not been repaired. This means that car dealer loaner cars and rental cars from small rental companies may have recalled parts that have not been repaired. In addition, some companies may seem large, but may actually be numerous smaller companies created to circumvent the law. Always, always ask about recalls when renting a vehicle.
The fight for laws regarding the rental, sale and lease of recalled vehicles continues. Below is a video about the exception for companies with 35 or fewer rental vehicles.
In a similar vein, you need to ask about recalls before buying a vehicle. Below is a hearing about selling vehicles before the safety recalls are fixed. Consumers, don’t assume that a vehicle is safe. Ask questions and don’t buy or lease a vehicle unless you get a guarantee that all recalls have been repaired.
Our law firm has not and does not represent Cally Houck or anyone in the Houck family.