California Contemplates Nation’s First Rental Car Recall Bill
I recently wrote about the subject of rental cars and recalls on this blog [Part 1, Part 2]. The basic problem is that rental companies are allowed to keep recalled cars on the road without having done the work required by the manufacturer.
When you rent a car, you assume you are renting a safe car. However, critics assert this is not always the case.
Take this tragic example in Santa Cruz, CA in 2004. Two sisters were driving to visit their mother when their rental PT Cruiser crashed as a result of a fire. Neither sister survived the car accident. The rental car was later found to be under recall for a power steering hose defect.
Now, the California Assembly is preparing to vote on a bill which is named after the two young women. If passed, it will bar companies from renting out any vehicles that are under recall for safety reasons. Nanette Miranda, Sacramento Bureau Chief for ABC in California, brings us more info:
‘When there’s a safety recall, the manufacturer agrees that the car is really unsafe and they voluntarily comply with the mandate,’ said Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability & Safety. ‘At that point, it’s game over.’
The car rental industry opposes the bill. It points out the Houcks’ accident was nearly seven years ago and substantial improvements have been made in the way recalls are handled.
If this bill is made into law in California, it would not be surprising to see similar legislation pursued in other states.
Another argument by the rental industry about the bill is that nether taxi nor limo fleets would be subjected to such strictures. However, it is quite possible that such auto fleets will come under scrutiny next.
Joe Consumer, pen name of the blogger at The Pop Tort, notes that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sees little wiggle room on the subject:
Of course, there is no such thing. A safety recall is a safety recall. NHTSA spokesperson Karen Aldana says, ‘All safety recalls resulting from defects present an unreasonable risk to safety and we believe it is inappropriate to suggest that some defects are not risky enough to require repair. For the safety of the motoring public, all recalled vehicles should be fixed promptly.’