• Apr 6, 2011
Recalls can be a big problem for car rental companies. The companies make money by renting as many vehicles in advance as possible, and an entirely booked fleet can be a recipe for profits. But what happens when there is a recall on a car or truck that is already scheduled for rental? Does the rental company call the customer and tell them that their order can no longer be fulfilled? In some cases, the rental company may want to wait until the vehicle isn't needed to get the problem looked at, which could potentially put the customer at risk.

How do you fix the problem of rental car companies failing to execute their recalls in a timely manner? The New York Times reports that the American Car Rental Association, which consists of 95 companies and all major renters with the exception of Hertz, feels a two-tier recall system would work best. Under the two-tier system, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and automakers would determine which recalls were serious enough that they needed to be done immediately, and which ones could wait a bit. The multi-tier approach would, in theory, force rental car companies to act quickly for serious recalls, while still maintaining the luxury of waiting for the right time to repair others. Rental companies would no doubt love such an arrangement, but safety advocates aren't so sure.

NHTSA's response is that the agency takes all recalls seriously, while other advocates like Rosemary Shahan, the president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety calls the proposal "rental car roulette" and says that it will "allow rental car companies to get away with renting out vehicles that are so unsafe they are being recalled." Senator Charles Schumer (D, NY) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into the fact that dealers are legally forbidden to sell vehicles with open recalls while rental companies can rent cars to customers with open recalls.

[Source: The New York Times]


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  • 13 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Since Ford is the king of recalls, what would this mean for them?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Huh? It would be the same for all companies.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The same thing is done in aviation essentially. You have ADs which are madnatory and other things that arent mandatory to be done right away. All aircraft have minimum equipment lists where aircraft can continue to fly with known defects and snags are allowed to continue flying with passengers as long as the minimum equipment list has been followed. Is that unsafe? No. Basically, there are a such thing as major/serious issues or recalls and minor ones that can wait. Im pretty sure rental companies can let a faulty door handle wait a bit while a more serious issue like sticking accelerator pedals should be looked after immediately. Theres nothing wrong or unsafe with a two tier system.
      • 3 Years Ago
      What are they whining about? How hard it is to take the car out of service for 2 days in every 3 months and get all service done within those 2 days and see if needs any recall done. When these companies are charging around $100 a day including all the hidden costs, they can afford to take the car out of service for two days to do scheduled maintainance.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The best if not ironic part of all this is that most of these Rental Car companies are near if not next door to dealerships. They could easily very easily drop these cars off and have them back in a few hours and only have again a few hours impact.

        I said it in a previous comment about a similar story. Have the Government mandate that these rental companies do these recalls within 60 days of being officially implemented. If after 60 days the recalls are not done they get charged $1k per car per day! If that is not incentive to pull a car off rental duty for a day then I don't know what is. And lets say for their 2 tier system we'll stretch it out for a 2nd tier to 90 days and still with the $1k charge if they fail to have the recall done.

        To me this is different than owning a personal car. In a personal car your personally told of the recall via email, mail, or phone call. In a rental you have no idea of whats going on. Its not like you run a Carfax before you sign papers to accept the rental agreement.
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is a manufacturer problem, not a renter's - the Rental Car companies should be negotiating loss-of-use clauses into their purchase contracts, not asking congress to put the public at risk because they failed to do so.

      And, yes, it might cost the end-user a bit more to rent the car. Just like antilock brakes, stability control, etc. but reasonable safety is a minimum consumer expectation.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Just Drive, I think that is the cost of doing business. Does that mean they should also be paid for loss time for warranty repairs? Every business has risks and this is one of them in the auto rental business. I also feel the rental company should be obligated to get the repairs done ion a timely manor...then again, I couldn't tell you the number of privately owned cars on the road with open recalls...I know it's alot!
        • 3 Years Ago
        See, the fun thing is to run a VIN check on your next rental car. When you return it, point out the missed recalls and demand a refund and voucher for a free future rental. Works every time!
      • 3 Years Ago
      There are also a lot of "precautionary" recalls. For instance, if something seems to be wearing faster than expected after two years so that it will put the car at risk in a year, a recall is issued. People are allowed to continue driving their cars while the dealer network waits for parts, schedules replacements, et cetera; having car rental companies continue to rent vehicles in that situation seems reasonable.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I was an engineering liaison for a major U.S. automaker and now work for company that deals with nothing but warranty and recalls for automakers. The rental companies don't need an two tier system because the automakers already have a better system in place.

      The automakers already "tier" recalls like this: There are "Product Safety Recalls", "Customer Satisfaction Campaigns", and "Special Coverage Bulletins". The later two are used for non-safety related concerns like wind noise, faded interior, and so on. Any thing that falls into the Product Safety category is something that should be addressed immediately. Its the rental companies responsibility to see that those are completed ASAP. If they did not calculate the risk of recall occurring in their business models then that's on them NOT the manufacturer.
      • 3 Years Ago
      BS. The rental companies knew what business they were getting into. They should be compelled, either by government regulation or guild membership, to have their fleet running no more than, say 60 days behind a recall; and never let a customer take away a vehicle which has an outstanding recall.
      Can't fulfil the customer's request? Upgrade 'em. Do the decent thing, cos you know, we'll respect you for that.
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