Feds investigate Zipcar for renting vehicles with open recalls

An NHTSA employee claims to have rented a Ford Transit van that was outfitted with a potentially defective driveshaft coupler.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into allegations that Zipcar may be illegally renting vehicles that have not received recall repairs.

An NHTSA employee claims to have rented a 2015 Ford Transit van last July, a month after the vehicle had been subject to a recall for a defective driveshaft coupler.

"A fellow NHTSA staff person ran a VIN check on the vehicle by phone and determined there was an open recall on the van," the complaint said. "I am concerned that on the date I rented the vehicle there were open, unmitigated recalls of which I was not made aware by Zipcar.

Likely due to the narrow gap of just four weeks between Ford's recall document submission to the NHTSA and the agency employee's rental date, Ford has been asked to pinpoint the date when a VIN list was made available to Zipcar that would have flagged the Transit van as defective.

The particular defect could have caused separation of the driveshaft, posing a rollaway risk and potentially damaging nearby brake and fuel lines.