The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal auto safety regulator, announced Tuesday that it is investigating rental car company Hertz for allegedly renting vehicles that have been recalled without first fixing the issues, a practice that the agency says violates vehicle safety laws.
NHTSA will audit Hertz's recall record from 2018 to 2020, specifically examining Ford and Nissan models that were under recall notices at the time. The agency said it began reviewing information in late 2021 that Hertz was renting out recalled vehicles.
"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," NHTSA said in a statement.
Hertz spokesperson Lauren Luster said in a statement that the company is "reviewing NHTSA's request for information" and "will cooperate fully with their investigation."
Rental car fleets with more than five vehicles were required to fix any safety defects under recall as part of a 2015 law enacted in part after after advocacy from the family of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, two sisters from California who were killed in a 2004 crash while driving a rented PT Cruiser that was under recall for a faulty power steering hose. NHTSA began enforcing the new law in June 2016.