Ya know, I believe it’s cheaper to purchase a car without seats. And who really needs brakes if you drive slow enough and keep your foot out the door on the ground. And speaking of doors…

Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the nation’s largest private buyer of new cars and seller of used ones, chose to “delete” a standard safety feature from thousands of Chevrolet Impala fleet vehicles, saving millions of dollars.

After the company rented out those 2006-08 model vehicles, Enterprise and countless dealers nationwide offered them for sale on the open market &mash; minus the side-curtain air bags that have been shown to dramatically reduce highway deaths.

What’s more, a Kansas City Star investigation found that hundreds of Impalas already sold were incorrectly advertised on Enterprise’s Web site as having the very head-protecting feature that the rental company opted to exclude on General Motors’ factory floor.

“I’ve never seen a standard safety feature removed from a vehicle,” said Sean Kane, who heads Safety Research & Strategies Inc. in Rehoboth, Mass. “That’s what’s so unique about this. I’ve been doing this work for 17 years and, until now, had yet to see this happen.”

  1. sargasso says:

    Big buyers can custom specify their cars at the factory. An entire run would have been dedicated to that buyer. You have to wonder, what else they left out of the cars, to shave a few dollars off the bottom line.

  2. Jay says:

    I bought one of those cars… no airbag or ABS… while at the dealer I was like dude why is this car missing half the standard features that and impala has and he flat out told me it was a rental car and they are customized.

  3. Rabble Rouser says:

    This is what happens when we are ruled by them, the corporations, and not WE THE PEOPLE!

  4. Mr Diesel says:

    Hey dumbasses, if you don’t like the fact that the car doesn’t have the features on it you want then don’t buy it.

    Good grief you would think that the government is dictating what you can drive……oops, they are.

  5. jbenson2 says:

    Add the BS Meter to this story.

    The McClatchy reporting in the article is on the shoddy side.

    There was no link for the Kansas City Star investigation.

    The Enterprise officials said they did not violate any federal mandate, but McClatchy did not offer anything to validate or disprove the claim.

    And were the side air bags deleted or removed?

    Deleted – were the side airbags just an optional factory option that Enterprise deleted (declined) from the original order?


    Removed – were the side airbags physically removed from the car by Enterprise employees? Why would a rental car company go to the expense of removing air bags from their fleet of cars?

  6. brian says:

    @ diesel

    completely agree with your first point. from my perspective, it seems reasonable that they would delete a “standard feature” that is maybe in 15% of the cars on the road, starting with the 2003 model year, based on the fact that the mandated 20% fleet installation deadline is NEXT year.

  7. spsffan says:

    If you wear your seat belt, airbags don’t make a whole lot of difference. If you don’t wear your seat belt, you’re too stupid to worry about saving anyway.

  8. Rabble Rouser says:

    pedro, in answer to your question,

    No, are you?

  9. Jean says:

    At the Seattle Airport last month we rented a premium vehicle from Avis. It had no side airbags. The manager told me that was the way Avis had order their vehicles and that all the rentals car companies were cutting cost where they could.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for the government to step up and protect the consumers.

    Safety is my number one priority when considering a vehicle. This site is a great guide regarding vehicle safety.

  10. bill says:

    Do you remember when you were a kid and there were no seatbelts, kid seats, airbags, and the dash was made of metal, and your grandmother drove like a bat out of heck?

    I wonder how we all survived..

    But I wonder how they got away with this?

  11. DobroD says:

    So did Avis (a sponsor for JCD) plant this or what?

  12. GF says:

    Would you be willing to pay more for a rental car with side airbags? My guess is that Avis and Enterprise already know the answer to that question: nope.

  13. Mr. Fusion says:

    If someone was injured in an accident while driving an Enterprise car they could have a good case against Enterprise. That model if Impala is advertised as coming with side curtain airbags. Therefore, if the renter asked for an Impala thinking it would have the side air bags, he should be expecting to get them.

    The only out would be if Enterprise informed their customers up front their cars do not have the side curtains.

    Selling the cars as “complete” is just plain fraud.

  14. SB says:

    ….Now visit budget.com and use the codeword: TECH and get $30 off a weekly rental.

  15. EvilPoliticians says:

    caveat emptor

  16. PhoneBoy says:

    This is one of many problems Enterprise Rent-a-Car has. Check out http://www.failingenterprise.com.

  17. DobroD says:


    “Enterprise determined that 745 Impalas sold from Enterprise’s used-car lots “were marked incorrectly, only online, as having side air bags and they did not,” Enterprise spokeswoman Christy Conrad told The Star. Enterprise said it would notify the 745 buyers.”

    GM delivered the cars without airbags as an option to all fleet customers. Enterprise is doing the right thing and offering to buy each of these cars back or refund $200 cash.

    Bet that’s a heck of a lot better that what other GM fleet customers that purchased the same model offer their buyers…

    You can learn a lot about a company by how it handle these situations.

  18. MikeN says:

    Fusion, how often have you asked for an Impala at rental? They offer you a class of car, and at best at rental time, they might give you a choice of cars.

  19. hohum says:

    I guess you should always take the optional life insurance rider when you rent from enterprise!

  20. Mr. Fusion says:

    #21, Lyin’ Mike,

    I prefer the Ford Taurus for myself. I usually reserve one first. It is nice to know there is a car waiting with my name on it.

    HOWEVER, if someone else rents an Impala thinking the car they rented has side airbags and it doesn’t, the rental company is open to a large lawsuit in case of an accident.


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