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U.S. Probes Rental-Car Companies Over Recall Repairs

U.S. auto-safety investigators are looking into whether rental-car companies are completing repairs on recalled vehicles from General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC before renting or leasing them.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been informed of “incidents involving allegations of personal injury and death” caused by defects and failure to conform to federal safety standards, the agency said on its website today.

The NHTSA said it’s auditing the repair history of 29 U.S. models to get an indication of how quickly and completely rental-car fleets are being repaired. It’s also seeking to verify that recall-related repairs were completed on vehicles that are leased.

The Washington-based Center for Auto Safety petitioned the Federal Trade Commission in August to look at whether Enterprise Holdings Inc., the largest U.S. rental-car company, rents to its customers before recall repairs have been completed.

Enterprise, the company that manages the Enterprise, Alamo and National car-rental brands, places a “hold” on most recalled vehicles so they aren’t rented while recall repairs are completed, Laura Bryant, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

“If and when manufacturers recommend that vehicle owners park or ground their vehicles, Enterprise promptly does so,” Bryant said.

Paula Rivera, a spokeswoman for Hertz Global Holdings Inc., didn’t immediately comment. John Barrows, a spokesman for Avis Budget Group Inc., didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.

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