Rental Car Recall Legislation Goes Into Effect Today

CARS.COM — Legislation approved in 2015 and effective today makes it illegal for rental car companies to rent a car with an open recall. Previously, laws only forbade companies from selling a car that had unfixed recalls, but renting one to the public was legal. Not anymore — as of today, rental fleet operators have 24 hours from the time they are notified of a vehicle recall to get the car fixed or to park it until repairs are made. 

Related: Legislation Would Ground Recalled Rental Cars

The bill passed with the support of the rental car industry and the input of the American Car Rental Association, which believes that the law is a positive step toward consumer protection. But not everyone is thrilled with the situation, with smaller independent companies lamenting the idea of parking cars when the recall system itself isn't prepared to fix them. In many cases, automakers will announce recalls without a plan or timeline for repairs. Oftentimes, it's months before parts are available, so some fleets will have cars parked for a potentially long time.

The situation will keep defective cars out of consumers' hands, but what effect will it have on the availability of rental vehicles across the country? When massive recalls such as the Takata airbag inflator situation surface, affecting millions of vehicles from mainstream brands, there is no quick fix.

If you want to check the status of a vehicle you have rented, use the government's vehicle identification tool. It will tell you if the car you're driving has any open recalls.

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