Rental Cars, Recalls, and Sen. Schumer, Part 2
[Note: This is a followup to Part 1 that appeared yesterday on this blog.]
For many people, the first thought when renting a vehicle is about cost. Safety, while a primary concern when purchasing a car, seems to be rarely considered by the lion’s share of renters.
Nina Sparano, a reporter for KDVR Fox 31, highlights this phenomenon in a recent article:
‘Basically I just go off the mileage, whatever is the most fuel efficient vehicle,’ says one Denver consumer.
‘I just do whatever’s the cheapest,’ says driver Mary Young.
‘Most people don’t care. They just want a car that’s reliable,’ Bill Perez, owner of Airline Auto Rental in Stapleton says. ‘Their primary concern is the price of the vehicle.’
Many rental cars test well in front-impact crashes but aren’t as safe in side or rear impact crash tests. And consumers don’t usually think twice before hopping behind the wheel.
This is especially troubling now that we are aware of the fact that rental car agencies are not bound by the same strictures as dealerships that sell vehicles. In short, they are not required to pull cars from their fleets that have been recalled.
Disturbingly, unserviced recalls are, while a major issue, not the only problem coming to light for the embattled rental industry. Bengt Halvorson, deputy editor for The Car Connection, notes a variety of other safety problems, including this one:
And if you think that you can reliably go by the model’s safety ratings, according to the federal government or the IIHS, that’s not completely true. In 2009, the Kansas City Star found that, to save money, Enterprise Rent-A-Car had deleted side airbags from 2006-2008 Chevrolet Impalas for its fleet. Because the Impala came with standard side airbags, renters (and some of those who bought the used rental cars from the fleet) could have wrongly assumed the vehicles were equipped with the important safety feature.
Though Enterprise broke the public trust, they did promptly offer to buy back those that had already been sold as used cars, and they haven’t yet been found to have broken any law.
The potential for car accidents is sizeable, and the double standard between dealers and renters is making people take notice. The actions Sen. Schumer is taking to combat this problem are deemed necessary by many — if they can close that loophole. Of course, the rental companies are hardly in favor of the change.
A contributing editor on Jaunter.com known only as “kjb” notes Schumer’s attitude on the subject:
Chuck Schumer — he’s the senior Senator from New York — introduced some new government stuff that would prevent rental car companies from handing out cars affected by recalls. He’s kind of pissed that this isn’t already something that is being done, as he admitted the lack of a policy or law on the books ‘boggles the mind.’
Are you taking a business or personal trip soon? If so, were you planning on renting a vehicle? Ask at the counter if the vehicle you are renting is under recall. The answer might frighten you, but it may also save your life.