Has Hertz Been Renting Recalled Cars Without Fixing Them?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just opened an investigation of Hertz Rental Cars. It’s looking into reports that Hertz rented cars to customers under recall and never had the work done. An “audit query to seek additional information concerning this issue,” is how the NHTSA explains the potentially explosive news. Hertz also owns Dollar and Thrifty brand rental car companies.

Which Hertz rental cars were involved in recalls?

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Hertz Corp. employees Carrie Roper and Andrew MacLean at Denver International Airport | Jerry Cleveland/The Denver Post via Getty

The NHTSA says it began receiving information in 2021 that the rental company rented cars without getting the safety recall issues repaired. “Information gathered by the agency to date, including from vehicle manufacturers, suggests repairs required under multiple NHTSA safety recalls were not made prior to the rental of such affected vehicles to Hertz customers,” the NHTSA said in a statement. 

Specifically, the NHTSA says the investigation will look at Ford Explorer and Nissan Altima vehicles under recall. Those safety recalls involved latching mechanisms and door locks. The NHTSA issued its Altima recall in May of 2020, and the Explorer recall goes back to 2015 and 2016. 

The Explorer’s recall was for side impact crashes causing door latches to unlatch. It involved 213,000 Ford Explorers. For the Altima, the secondary hood latches corroded in the unlatched position. The risk was for hoods coming open while driving.

How did Hertz respond to the recall?

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A row of Hertz rental cars | Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty

Hertz’s response says it’s “reviewing NHTSA’s request for information. We are committed to providing safe rentals for our customers.” Legally, Hertz is required to comply with NHTSA recalls before it can rent those cars. The reasons for the strict law are obvious. This is yet, another issue coming on the heels of its $168 million settlement over wrongful theft reports earlier this month.

On December 5 Hertz agreed to pay the agreed amount for reporting rentals stolen when they were either back in the system or had their original rental agreements extended. Through internal errors, some customers with rentals paid in full, or those that extended contracts, were arrested for stealing the cars. A class action lawsuit alleged that 95 percent of the arrests were erroneous

Were there complications for those arrested?

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Hertz worker assists a customer at its rental car pickup area | Tim Boyle/Getty
Related

Hertz Has Woman Arrested 4 Times for the Same Rental

Some spent as much as over a month in jail while their cases wound through the proper channels. For some, the felony charge affected their working status and hampered their employment abilities. Either through sloppy bookkeeping or not closing out rental contracts, Hertz erroneously prompted police to investigate “stolen” rental vehicles.

As much as Hertz should have a handle on its rental fleet, it must keep track of a lot. In 2020, Hertz Global Holdings Inc. had almost 424,000 vehicles in its rental fleet. However, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is the largest global rental network, according to Zippia.