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California lawmaker seeks to ban sales of defective rental cars

A number of U.S. Senators are pushing new legislation that would ban car rental companies from selling or leasing motor vehicles that are subject to manufacturer recalls. A California Senator is one of the co-sponsors of the bill that was introduced late last year.

The proposed law is named after two young women who died after their rental car caught fire and crashed. The car they were in was subject to a safety recall and the defect caused the fire, leading to the fatal accident. The rental company knew of the defect one month prior to the accident but was not required to repair it. The mother of the two women has been pushing for the legislation since their deaths nearly 10 years ago.

Currently, federal law prohibits car dealers from selling new cars that are subject to recalls, but there is no such ban on used cars. California lemon law offers protections to consumers who purchase vehicles with service contracts or express warranties. However, those laws do not help protect consumers from purchasing a defective vehicle from what they suppose is a reputable source.

While some of the larger car rental companies have voluntarily pledged not to rent or sell recalled cars until manufacturer flaws are fixed, they are not obligated by law to do so. The proposed law seeks to help protect people from purchasing defective vehicles.

Proposed vehicle safety law provisions

The bill contains provisions that proponents assert will close vital loopholes in federal vehicle safety laws. Some pertinent sections that will apply to car rental companies include:

  • Vehicles subject to safety recalls cannot be sold or rented until the defects are repaired
  • Vehicles subject to safety recalls must be grounded for 24 to 48 hours upon receipt of notice of the recall
  • Temporary safety measures provided by a manufacturer may be used and the cars can continue to be rented, but only until replacement parts are made available
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the right to police rental company practices for compliance with the new law

Unfortunately, car manufacturers are opposing the legislation that requires rental companies to repair defective motor vehicles before putting them on the roads. Manufacturers contend that car rental businesses will sue them if the defects make rental vehicles hard to sell or lease. Lawmakers are hopeful that American and foreign carmakers will eventually support the law.

Consult a lawyer

If you have purchased a defective vehicle, consult an experienced consumer protection lawyer. An attorney knowledgeable about recalled vehicles, lemon law and vehicle warranties can help.

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