August 1, 2011

Each year, millions of cars are recalled because of defective design, poor manufacturing or faulty parts. For example, Honda recently recalled 2.5 million cars worldwide because of transmission problems that could allow the affected vehicles to stall and roll over, even after the vehicles were placed in park.

When people rent cars, they fairly assume that the cars they are renting are safe to use. They have the right to assume the vehicles have been serviced properly and regularly. Shouldn’t they have the right to assume those vehicles are not being rented to them when they are subject to manufacturers’ safety recalls due to dangerous defects?

Under current law, however, car rental car companies are not required to stop renting vehicles once they find out they are subject to a safety recall. They are not even required to have the vehicles repaired. This means that unsuspecting drivers are renting recalled cars that have not been repaired, and this can put them at serious risk of personal injury.

A new federal law has been proposed that aims to ensure the safety of everyone who rents cars, including those renting cars in Oregon. Under the proposed legislation, rental car companies will be prohibited from renting or selling any vehicle unless all known defects are corrected.

Surprisingly, the rental car companies hope to defeat the bill and continue to rent recalled vehicles without fixing them first. This does not make sense considering that in most cases, manufacturers repair recalled vehicles for free, and rental car companies remain at risk of liability when they knowingly rent or sell recalled vehicles and someone is injured as a result.

Hopefully, this important legislation will pass so that rental car customers will be protected from known safety hazards from recalled vehicles.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Car rental companies: Driven to danger,” Ben Kelley, Aug. 10, 2011


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