Faulty door on recalled rental car frustrates family

Posted at 9:48 PM, Sep 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-24 23:48:10-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Michelle Boyd picked up her rental car in Salt Lake City last Tuesday, gearing up for a road trip with family.

However, they didn’t make it far before they started running into dangerous car trouble.

“My son was in the front seat, and I was in the back, and the door kind of flew open on him,” Boyd said.

As the family was pulling into a parking lot, the front passenger door somehow became unlatched.

The car was moving slowly enough to allow Boyd’s son to close it, and she initially thought the door just hadn’t been properly shut.

But then it happened again.

“My husband started to pull out in the parking lot, and the car door flew open,” Boyd said. “I thought, ‘Wow, this car door is opening for no reason at all.’ Then we found out there is something faulty with this car.”

Turns out, the 2014 Ford Escape they had rented was part of a major Ford recall in May. According to Ford’s website, the recall was, in part, due to a misalignment between the exterior door handle and the door outer panel. The recall description read, “The affected vehicles have doors that may be difficult to close or may possibly open while driving.”

It’s a problem that got the car pulled from the fleet at the Budget Car and Truck Rental of Utah at the Salt Lake City International Airport, where the Boyd family picked it up.

“Maybe this was taken to the shop, I don’t know, but obviously this job wasn’t done complete,” Boyd said.

According to the store’s Vice President and General Manager, Jack Lehr, their policy requires all recalled vehicles to be grounded.

In a statement to FOX 13 News, Lehr said: “The vehicle in question was…sent to a local Ford dealership, where it was inspected and repaired. The repair was completed in May, and we have documentation from the Ford dealership verifying that the repair was done.”

Currently, there is no federal law requiring rental car businesses to remove recalled vehicles from their fleet. There is, however, pending legislation to address the issue. Many rental companies, such as Budget, have pledged to develop their own internal policies, while lawmakers consider a current proposal.

“If we were on the highway, especially the highways out west where you can go pretty fast, it could be very a dangerous situation if your door spontaneously opened while you’re driving on the freeway,” said Boyd’s son, Michael.

The Ford Escape the Boyds rented has been temporarily taken off the road by Budget.