New Law Aims to Protect You When Renting a Car
Are you planning a summer road trip with your family? Are you considering renting a vehicle for your trip? If so, this may surprise and shock you.
Is It Legal to Rent a Car with an Open Safety Recall?
Until recently, there was no law preventing a rental car company from renting a car that had an unrepaired open recall notice. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, “When a family picks up a rental car on vacation, they should be able to expect it is free of any known safety defect.” A new federal law now requires rental car companies with 35 or more vehicles to repair all open safety defects before renting a car to a customer.
The mother of two sisters who were killed in a crash in 2004 after renting a 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser from Enterprise worked for over ten years to change the laws regarding rental cars. The PT Cruiser had an open safety recall regarding a defect in the power steering hose that could result in a fire. Enterprise had not repaired the vehicle and continued to rent the vehicle even after the recall notice. A jury awarded the family $15 million in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The new federal law is part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015. The law extends the NHTSA recall powers to car rental agencies for the first time and gives the agency authority to investigate and punish violators. However, consumers should still take steps to ensure the vehicle they are renting is safe for their families.
Make Sure Your Rental Car Is Safe
If you are renting a vehicle, use the NHTSA’s free Recall Look-up Tool to check for any open recall notices on the vehicle you are renting. Other tips for renting a car include:
- Ask the agent how recently the vehicle was inspected and received maintenance. If the agent cannot or will not answer your question, this may be a sign that the vehicles are not regularly maintained and inspected for problems.
- If a recall notice was issued, ask for confirmation that the repairs have been made and the date the repairs were made.
- Visually inspect the vehicle’s tires to ensure they are properly inflated and the tread is not worn.
- Check to ensure the vehicle has a spare tire and all of the equipment needed to change a tire in an emergency.
- Check the fluid levels before leaving the lot.
- Check to ensure all of the lights work including the high and low beams, interior lights, blinkers, and brake lights.
- Drive the vehicle around the block a few times with the window down and the radio off. Is there a strange noise when you apply the brakes? How does the engine sound?
If you have any concerns or doubts, bring them to the attention of the car rental agent and ask for another vehicle.
Fresno Car Accident Attorneys
If you or a family member has been injured in a car accident in Fresno or the surrounding Central California Valley area, call Torem & Associates at (888) 500-5000or us our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys are here to help you recover the compensation you are entitled to receive under California’s personal injury laws.