The past year was a record year for vehicle recalls with over 62 million vehicles recalled. In the General Motors ignition switch recall alone, there have been 4,345 claims made including 479 death claims and 292 “Category One” claims which require an injury involving permanent brain damage, paraplegia, quadriplegia, severe burns or double amputation. The remaining 3,574 “Category Two” claims involve injuries that required a hospital visit within 48 hours after the accident.
If you are the registered owner of a recalled vehicle, then the manufacturer, with oversight by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will notify you that your vehicle contains a safety defect and provide instructions on how to get it repaired. But what about when you rent a vehicle? How are you supposed to know if all recalls have been addressed before you put yourself, your friends or your family in the vehicle?
Here is an easy solution to the dilemma: before you accept the car the rental car company assigns to you, quickly run the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on www.vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/. If there are open recalls on the vehicle, alert the rental car agency to the problem and ask for a different vehicle. Typically, you will find the VIN in several places including: the driver’s side dash by the bottom of the front windshield (this location is easier to read outside the vehicle), the engine block, underneath the spare tire and the driver’s side door post (open the driver’s side door for this location).
I know some of you may think this is unnecessary because the rental car agency will surely address any recalls for vehicles in their fleet. But incompetence can happen anywhere and one only need to routinely rent cars as part of your job to know it happens with some degree of frequency at rental car counters and garages.