Auto recall and rentals

It might not have crossed your mind, but the many auto recalls of this year have affected more than consumer car owners and vehicle manufacturers: They've impacted many car rental companies like Hertz and Avis as well.

Rental companies are having a hard time maintaining enough available cars because many in their fleet are out of commission due to recalls, Fortune reported. The companies aren't required to fix the vehicles, but most of the car rental businesses won't rent out a vehicle that has safety concerns attached.

Hertz stated this week its profits have below its initial expectations. The company initially expected their 2014 earnings to be $1.07 per share. However, they've had to lower their expectations after stock prices dropped as much as 13 percent as of end of August, according to Fortune.

Avis reported recalled vehicles have cost the company tens of millions of dollars because about one-third of its fleet was hit by recalls this year.

How it affects you
Consumers may not be impacted by the profit, or lack thereof, for companies like Hertz and Avis. But, consumers are affected if they receive a rental vehicle that's been recalled due to a safety issue. While many companies took recalled vehicles out of their fleets, that isn't true for every business and every recalled vehicle.

Whether it's to check your personal car or the rental car you'll be driving around for days or weeks, you can now use an online search tool launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. All you have to do is find the vehicle's identification number (VIN) and put it into the NHTSA's website to discover if the car is part of a recall and whether it's been repaired.

"This should be a one-stop shop for consumers," said Jim Schulte, NHTSA's director of digital strategies, on a conference call with reporters in August, according to Automotive News. "If you have a recall that has not been repaired, this is how you find out."

If the car is not part of a recall or the defect has been fixed, the search will come up with no results. If there is a relevant recall, search results will come up in red text.

Consumers may also be affected if there has been a recall notice regarding their personal vehicle and they fail to have the defect repaired. If the defect causes an accident and the owner neglected to fix it, his or her auto insurance rates may increase.

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