American car rental firms are being investigated by a government watchdog over accusations they did not complete necessary repairs to vehicles that were the subject of safety recalls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's action comes months after an alliance of consumer advocates asked the government to find out whether such repairs were completed by rental companies.
A spokesperson for one of the groups that petitioned for the initial audit, the Center for Auto Safety, told the New York Times car rental companies waited "until it's convenient to do safety recall repairs."
The NHTSA has already asked major U.S. automakers for recall and repair information on almost 30 top models, with a specific focus on those popular with rental companies. The government agency will attempt to determine if the companies failed to promptly repair vehicles subject to safety recalls, and, if so, whether the potentially unsafe cars were rented to the public.
Enterprise Rentals, which also owns the Alamo and National brands, is the company at the center of the controversy, according to the Detroit News. A spokesperson for Enterprise told the news source the company was conscientiously devoted to safety.
"If and when manufacturers recommend that vehicle owners park or ground their vehicles, Enterprise promptly does so," said Laura Bryant. "In most cases, we place a 'hold' on recalled vehicles so they are not rented until the recall work is completed."
Enterprise was recently the subject of a successful lawsuit by the parents of two daughters who were killed when a PT Cruiser they had rented from the company caught fire and crashed. The vehicle had been subject to a safety recall but had not been fixed.