Congress should pass legislation on defective rental vehicles

Car on fire

It has been found that some reputable rental car companies have decided to overlook certain recall notices and rent their vehicles out to unsuspecting drivers. This negligence has led to multiple injuries and the deaths of innocent drivers who were unaware that they had been issued defective rental cars. If passed, a bill proposed in 2013 would require rental car companies in Illinois and elsewhere to ground any vehicles that have outstanding product recalls until the issue has been resolved, according to govtrack.us.

The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013 stems from a 2004 fatal car accident involving the death of the Houck sisters. According to ABC News, the two Houck sisters had rented a PT Cruiser. Unbeknownst to them, the vehicle had been recalled a month earlier, due to the potential of an under hood fire as a result of a leak in the power steering fluid. While driving along a highway in California, the girls’ vehicle caught fire and collided with an oncoming tractor trailer. They were killed instantly.

Recall compliance

 In response to the allegations of product liability and faulty rental vehicles causing injuries and deaths, the National Traffic Safety Highway Administration studied the data from 10 Chrysler and General Motors recalls that occurred from 2006 to 2010. The study showed that after 90 days, Hertz had repaired 34 percent of the recalled vehicles and Avis had fixed 53 percent. Enterprise was on top, repairing 65 percent of the recalled vehicles. Advocates of the bill argue that anything less than 100 percent compliance is dangerous to drivers.

How would the Safe Rental Car Act change the industry?

If passed into law, The Safe Rental Car Act would implement the following, as reported by CNBC News:

  • Rental car companies must ground any recalled vehicles within 24 hours after receiving notice from the manufacturer. If the recall involves more than 5,000 vehicles within the company’s fleet, they would be given 48 hours to ground the vehicles.
  • The company could continue renting the vehicles while awaiting recall parts if all temporary safety measures have been incorporated.
  • The NHTSA would be given authority to conduct research into how rental car companies handle their safety recall notices.

Some say that the bill would simply require safety recall procedures that many rental car companies already follow voluntarily.

When drivers rent a vehicle from a national company, many assume that they are getting a well-maintained and properly functioning vehicle. However, without the proper laws requiring rental car companies to comply with recall procedures, drivers may be driving a vehicle that isn’t safe.