Rental Cars, Recalls, and Sen. Schumer, Part 1
Assumptions can get you in trouble. For instance, assuming when you rent a vehicle that it is safe and in good condition. This is not always the case. That rental car you got on your business trip to Denver? It might be under recall.
The subject has been gaining steam for awhile now, especially with the massive number of recalls coming from the auto industry over the past year or so. Last August, the Center for Auto Safety and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety joined forces to petition the Federal Trade Commission to stop Enterprise Rent-A-Car and its parent company from renting recalled vehicles.
Gary Stoller, a reporter for USA Today, recently examined the issue of rental cars and safety. In that article, he mentions the fatal accident that spurred the petition:
The petition followed a $15 million jury verdict last year that found Enterprise’s failure to fix a recalled PT Cruiser led to the deaths of two sisters, Jacqueline and Raechel Houck, in 2004. The vehicle had been recalled to fix a power steering hose defect that could cause a fire. The Houcks’ rented PT Cruiser caught fire on a California highway, causing them to lose steering. The car crashed head-on into a semitrailer truck.
When you purchase a vehicle, you make the assumption that any manufacturer-required servicing has been done and the vehicle is safe and road-worthy. It is the same assumption made when you rent a vehicle, but in the latter case it seems a far chancier thing to take for granted.
In N.Y., Senator Charles E. Schumer has come out against this issue with legislation. He sums up the meat of his proposal on his webpage:
Under the new legislation, rental car companies would be subject to the same strict regulations that prevent car dealers from selling automobiles under recall. When a recall notice is issued for a particular vehicle, auto dealers are forbidden from selling the vehicle until it has been serviced and the issue that sparked the recall notice has been corrected. Rental car companies fall into a dangerous loophole that allows them to continue placing the same vehicles that would be barred from show rooms and dealer lots on the streets. The current lack of federal standards puts New York families who rent cars or share the road with rental car drivers at serious risk.
Brian Ross, the reporter behind the ABC News‘ investigative series The Blotter, covered this a few days ago. Among other things, he interviewed Clarence Ditlow, executive director for the Center for Auto Safety, on the subject.
Since we cannot embed the video click here to watch it: [Brian Ross Investigates- Rental Car Companies Band Together Against NHTSA Study]
The Blotter also provides an archived copy of the letter from the car rental agencies to the NHTSA (PDF) if you would like to read it in full.
Coming tomorrow: Part 2 of this post.
Image by the U. S. Government (Official Portrait), used under Fair Use: Reporting.