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U.S. wants tough repair rules on rental cars


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U.S. wants tough repair rules on rental cars

Recall process doesn't require companies to fix vehicle problems

Angela Greiling Keane and Jeff Plungis / Bloomberg News

The top U.S. auto-safety regulator said he is "working through the bully pulpit" to make sure rental-car companies such as Avis Budget Group Inc. and Hertz Global Holdings Inc. complete repairs on recalled vehicles.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland said he's working to publicize the investigation he opened last week into the repair history of 29 U.S. models in rental-car fleets.

Thirty percent of recalled vehicles in the United States aren't repaired, according to agency data.

"Our interest and our conversations with rental-car companies are to make sure every driver, every customer is in a vehicle that is safe," Strickland said.

The recall process treats rental-car companies the same way as retail customers, who must be notified about defects and aren't required to fix them.

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Auto Safety, said rental-car companies should be held to the same standard as auto dealers, who can't sell a car if the repairs aren't complete.

"If there's a safety recall, there's a safety recall," Ditlow said. "When rental cars are subject to a recall, the car should be repaired before the consumer uses it."

Laura Bryant, a spokeswoman for Enterprise Holdings Inc., the largest U.S. rental-car company, didn't have an immediate comment. Paula Rivera, a spokeswoman for Hertz, and John Barrows, a spokesman for Avis, didn't respond to inquiries.

The Center for Auto Safety petitioned the Federal Trade Commission in August to look into whether Enterprise rents to its customers before recall repairs have been completed.

NHTSA works with domestic and foreign automakers to issue recalls for safety-related defects. Automakers, in turn, notify customers about repairs, which are done at no charge to vehicle owners.

There can be months of delay between the time a manufacturer notifies NHTSA about a defect and when vehicle owners are informed of a recall, Ditlow said. NHTSA could require carmakers to notify rental companies sooner, he said.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20101202/AUTO01/12020376/U.S.-wants-tough-repair-rules-on-rental-cars#ixzz16xpwYit8

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