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Rental Car Investigation

5:38 PM, Jul 29, 2013   |    comments
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Atlanta, GA -- Who's looking out for you and your safety on the road? Our investigation may make you think twice the next time you rent a car.

"The check engine light is on," Edwidge Mondesir said as she showed us the problems with her rental car. "It's a cash rental company."

But does that mean the car should be unsafe?

In an email to 11Alive, Captain Johnny Jones with the Georgia Department of Public Safety said, "There is not an agency who specifically regulates rental car companies to ensure that the vehicles are safe."

That's why we put three rental cars to the test -- one from Hertz, another from Enterprise and the car Edwidge Mondesir rented from Sandfly Express on Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway.

"It's not in any condition to rent out to anyone," Geornette Jackson said after inspecting Mondesir's rental car.

Jackson is the service manager at Katherine's Automotive Repair and Service in Atlanta, a AAA-approved facility. She had her technicians inspected gave our three rental cars a 20-point inspection.

The 2006 Chevy Cobalt from Sandfly Express had the most issues, with 18 problems listed. It had a broken tail light, cracked side mirror, and the airbag light was on, indicating it may not deploy in an accident. It also contained salvaged parts, which are not necessarily unsafe, but indicate prior problems.

The 2013 Dodge Avenger from Hertz had overinflated tires. The 2012 Chevy Cruze from Enterprise was low on coolant and there appeared to be transmission oil dripping from underneath.

We reported the problems to Hertz and Enterprise. Both of the companies told us they have regular maintenance procedures in place and said they'd check the issues. Enterprise thanked us for reporting it and said they rely on their customers to help identify issues, as does Hertz.

As for Sandfly Express, Mondesir returned the car and complained about the issues. She says the owner offered her a replacement vehicle and said she should never had been put in the car she rented. She was also offered compensation. Sandfly told 11Alive News that they have an onsite mechanic doing their repairs.

No state official would talk on camera about this issue of rental car safety. During our investigation we learned that it's up to you to check over the vehicle and ask a lot of questions before you rent it because if you're pulled over for a safety issue, you're the one who'll get the ticket.

There is an agency that is pushing Congress to change laws. It's called CARS - Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. Congress is currently considering a new law that would ensure that rental car companies respond to safety recalls in a timely fashion.

In Georgia, limousines, moving trucks and buses are subject to regulations and monitored for safety but we could find no regulatory agency overseeing rental cars.

WXIA - 11 Alive

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