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Feds Launch Probe Into Rental Car Recall Delays

Investigation triggered by evidence some firms regularly delay repairs on defective vehicles.

by on Nov.22, 2010

Rental firm accused of delaying repairs on recalled vehicles if they're in demand.

Federal regulators want to know whether daily rent-a-car companies may be risking the lives of their customers by delaying repairs for known safety problems in order to keep potentially defective vehicles in circulation.

The investigation comes as several rental car firms defend their actions in court.  As TheDetroitBureau.com first reported, last July, officials with Enterprise, Alamo and National have acknowledged in court delaying safety-related repairs, in one manager’s words, “when demand called.”

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But industry officials are denying such allegations and, if anything, are blaming automakers for failing to properly notify fleet managers of pending recalls.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new investigation is specifically examining how major rental car companies have handled 29 individual recalls ordered by Detroit’s Big Three automakers.  In all, those recalls involved 3 million vehicles sold to rental companies.

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Rent-a-Car Companies Risking Lives With Recalled Cars?

Enterprise, National, Alamo admit risky policy in court case.

by on Jul.07, 2010

Enterprise acknowledges renting a car that should've gone back for recall repairs.

One of the nation’s largest rental-car companies has acknowledged in court that it regularly rents vehicles even though it is aware that they are covered by a safety recall and should be first taken in for repair.

That news came out in a California court case involving the death of two women whose rental car caught fire after a collision with a tractor trailer.  The PT Cruiser they were provided by Enterprise had, in fact, previously been rented out three times after the company had received a recall notice from Chrysler.

“When demand called, we rented out recalled vehicles, it happened, I won’t lie,” said Mark Matias, who previously served as an Enterprise area manager in San Francisco, near where the accident occurred that claims the lives of 24-year-old Raechel Houck and her sister, Jacquie, 20.

While the case was in discovery, Enterprise Manager Thomas Moulton was asked, “Did you ever consider the possibility that Enterprise should not rent cars to the public after they’ve received recall notices from the manufacturer?” Moulton, according to the ABC Report, responded, “No.”

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During the trial, reports ABC News, Enterprise tried to argue that the accident was the result of the driver, Raechel, being “suicidal or on drugs.”  But two weeks before trial, noted the Houck family’s attorney, Larry Grassini, the company “freely admitted that they were the only cause of the deaths.”

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