Effective Today: New Federal Law for Recalled Rental Cars Protects Consumers from Vehicle Safety Defects

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that, beginning today, June 1, 2016, rental car agencies must fix any and all open safety defects before renting out vehicles to customers. U.S Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind have long advocated for safe rental cars free of open recalls, and 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.

“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.”

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.