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New Rental Car Safety Law Takes Effect

Jul 3, 2016

Is my rental car safe?

Whether for business or pleasure, renting a car is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re going to get. Stand-up comics and personal experience tell us not to expect that the make and model we reserved in advance will be available when we reach the rental counter. While frustrating, most of us accept a substitute vehicle and drive off without further thought.

Renting an SUV for a family vacation or a sleek convertible for a business trip? Do you ever wonder if the SUV’s brakes or fuel tank was safe? Do you question whether the roll bar system or airbags would work if you rolled the convertible? Probably not.

While not receiving the model you reserved is expected, the expectation that a rental car will be free from known and dangerous safety defects is a given. In fact, many wouldn’t even consider the possibility that rental cars with outstanding safety recalls could be given to unsuspecting renters. But until recently, that’s exactly what the practice has been in the rental car industry.

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015 went into effect against rental car agencies, effective June 1, 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The FAST Act mandates that rental car agencies with fleets over 35 cars must not rent cars to consumers until any and all open safety recall issues have been repaired. The federal law also extends the NHTSA’s recall authority to rental car agencies, so the policing and punishing of violating agencies is now possible.

As is often the case, the legislation was proposed in response to a tragic accident where two young sisters were killed in a rental car with unrepaired safety recall issues.

The NHSTA is aiming for 100% remedy completion rates for recalled vehicles, a lofty goal given that in 2015 alone, there were 973 recalls affecting over 87 million vehicles. Before renting or buying a car, you can check for vehicle recalls by Make/Model/Year or VIN here. Consumers have a right to vehicles free from manufacturer’s safety defects.

Are you driving a lemon? Timothy Abeel & Associates, P.C. is a Consumer Law Firm that handles Lemon Law and Fraud cases. Call 1-888-611-5481 to discuss your case for free.

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