The US federal auto safety regulators announced on Tuesday they are investigating if the rental car company Hertz rented unrepaired recalled vehicles to customers, a practice that violates vehicle safety laws.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s filing says that Hertz was allegedly renting vehicles to customers that have been recalled without first having performed required recall repairs to fix the issues.
The agency had opened an audit query with regard to Hertz’s recall record from 2018 to 2020 to seek additional information concerning this issue which involved Ford Explorer F.N and Nissan Altima cars 7201.T – that were under recall notices at the time – without disclosing the number of vehicles involved.
NHTSA explained that the recall issues involved include latches and locks.
In line with a 2015 law, rental car companies with 35 or more vehicles in their fleet are required to complete recall repairs – to fix any safety defects under recall – before they rent the vehicles they own.
The law that NHTSA began enforcing in June 2016 was enacted, in part, after advocacy from the family of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck from California who dies in a 2004 crash while driving a rented PT Cruiser that was under recall for a faulty power steering hose.
According to the NHTSA statement, the agency began receiving information in late 2021- including from vehicle manufacturers – suggesting that the rental company may have rented vehicles to Hertz customers without performing all required safety recall repairs on those affected vehicles.
Hertz spokesperson Lauren Luster said in a statement that the company – which operates the Hertz, Dollar, and Thrifty vehicle rental brands- is reviewing NHTSA’s request for information and will fully cooperate with the investigation to provide safe rentals for its customers.
The Rental company agreed earlier this month to resolve over 95% of pending claims from owners who alleged the car rental giant filed wrongful theft reports and pay about $168 million by year-end.
Some of Hertz’s customers have sued the company after the police detained or arrested them in error after Hertz reported rental cars were stolen.
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