Recalled air bags deployed in a rental car, causing brain damage
Recalled air bags deployed in a rental car, causing brain damage

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In September of 2014, there had been the confirmed death of a woman who was one of 8 deaths linked to faulty air bags made by the Japanese supplier, Takata. The rented 2001 Honda Civic had been a part of the recall but had not been repaired even though the recall had been in place since 2009.

Recalls for Used or Rental Vehicles

Unfortunately, companies are not required to repair used vehicles or rental cars before they sell or rent them. They are also not required to disclose to the potential buyers and renters that the vehicle or component of the vehicle has been recalled.

Legislation for Rental Cars

Congress has introduced legislation that would require repair and notifications to consumers called the Rachael and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act. The proposal is summarized as such: “… a rental company that receives a notification (approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA]) from the manufacturer of a covered rental vehicle about any equipment defect, or noncompliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards, to rent or sell the vehicle or equipment only if the defect or noncompliance is remedied.” Currently opposition from auto dealers has stalled any progress in passing it into law.

The good news is that some of the more well-known rental companies have committed to not rent or sell recalled vehicles before repairs are done. However, auto rental companies are not required to do so by law. Consumers should still be aware of recalls as well as the fine print in those rental agreements.

This particular victim’s death highlighted the holes in safety regulations for used or rental vehicles, but it also brings to light the inefficient notification system being used to inform consumers of recalls. The more owners a vehicle has had, the harder it is to track down owners to notify them of safety issues.

Database of Recalled Vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides an inline database of recalled vehicles in order to make it easier for consumers to search for any recalls that might affect the safety of a used auto. Don’t assume that a rental company has done its due diligence, even if they pledged to do so. Take the safety of you and any of your passengers into your own hands, and help to prevent any further unnecessary deaths or injuries.