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Tire Failures, Rental Car Companies and Consumer Expectations

When one rents a car, there is a certain level of consumer expectation that the vehicle will be delivered in good mechanical repair, and with safe tires which are relatively new. Florida roadways are packed with leased vehicles from numerous rental car companies with very recognizable names. While rental car vehicles are typically washed and vacuumed, and delivered with the fresh scent of “newness”, they are not always delivered in a fashion that is consistent with consumer expectations.

We have handled more than one case against local rental car companies in connection with accidents which we alleged were caused by low tire tread resulting in a hydroplaning event. Imagine the surprise and dismay experienced by those who were injured, or their family members, when it was learned that the tire tread on the rental vehicles had been worn down below the level recommended in the safety manuals generated by the very rental car companies that had leased the vehicles.

Tire maintenance issues, including tire tread depth, penetrating objects in tires, improperly repaired holes, or low air pressure are safety issues that are supposed to be dealt with by the car rental company through a process of inspections and preventative maintenance services. Because of our experience, at Jay Halpern and Associates, in handling tire defect cases and other product liability cases, we have been referred to handle tire maintenance cases involving Budget Rent-A-Car, Hertz, and Enterprise Leasing Company. It is surprising to find that the recommended vehicle maintenance schedules, and the car rental companies’ own preventative maintenance schedules are not always followed as prescribed. We believe that these breakdowns represent a violation of consumer expectations when it comes to vehicle maintenance and tire safety.