NHTSA reviews Orlando car rental company for possible violation of Safe Car Rental Act

News 6 reporting uncovers open recalls in family’s rented vehicle

ORLANDO, Fla. – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reviewing potential violations of the Safe Rental Car Act of 2015 by Nu Car Action Car Rental of Orlando based on findings by News 6.

Records obtained by News 6 confirmed Action Car Rental, a subsidiary of Nu Car rental, rented a 2021 Ford Expedition XLT to Michelle DeFaria and her family on Nov. 7, 2022.

A check of the SUV’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) showed two open safety recalls issued on April 19, 2022 and May 19, 2022.

According to CARFAX and the Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan, the vehicle windshield arms can “perform erratically.” The other established recall found consumer reports of an under-hood fire “may occur either when the engine is on or while the vehicle is parked, and the engine is off.”

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A spokesperson for Ford Motor Company said company records show the proper protocol was followed to alert the car rental company of the safety concern: ”To be clear, our requirement by law is to inform them, which we did via mail.”

A spokesperson for NHTSA told News 6 that The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act states, “A rental company cannot rent a vehicle under a safety recall unless that recall has been repaired.”

According to Ford, the recall notices were mailed to Action Car Rental in May with a follow-up communication on July 18 and Nov. 2.

The Ford Expedition was rented to the DeFaria family on Nov. 7, five days after the final alert from Ford.

The address was confirmed to News 6 in a phone conversation with Ford Motor Company this week.

Greg Scott of the American Car Rental Association, told News 6 there are no exceptions to the law.

“If there is an open recall, then a car rental company is not permitted under the federal law to rent you that vehicle,” Scott said.

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Michelle DeFaria said the family had flown from their home in Manhattan, Kansas, for the vacation.

DeFaria told News 6 she had no idea the car had open recalls until News 6 obtained the Carfax findings.

The family noticed water intrusion on the front passenger floor and returned the vehicle because, according to DeFaria, they felt unsafe.

“We could hear (water) going from the front of the car,” DeFaria told News 6. “When we would accelerate, we would hear the water swishing all the way back past the passengers.”

The mother of four said she contacted News 6 after months of attempted requests for refunds hit a dead end.

According to Carfax, the SUV slammed into a ditch and snowbank in Ontario, Canada on Feb. 11, 2021.

It is unclear whether that accident can be linked to the leaks from the overhead lights and front floor.

News 6 presented smart phone video of the water to Nu Car and the advanced payment of more than $1,400 was refunded through Priceline.

In a statement to News 6 NHTSA said in part, “NHTSA is looking into this issue and encourages anyone who has rented a vehicle they feel has a safety issue to report via the agency’s website https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls or by calling the Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236.”

NHTSA also confirmed it has open investigations into two other rental car companies that operate in the Orlando area:

Hertz: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls?nhtsaId=AQ22003

Zipcar: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls?nhtsaId=AQ18001

If you have a financial or consumer issue, email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com or text the words make ends meet at 407-676-7428.

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About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.