I’ve written before about rental car companies continuing to let customers use vehicles that have been recalled, and about Enterprise rental selling cars to consumers without warning them that the standard-equipment airbags were not installed. Now the politicians are finally getting involved in these problems, as pointed out in an article in the Washington Post.
I can’t think of any reason why rental companies should be allowed to ignore safety recalls and continue to rent out vehicles known to have serious defects. Any reason other than higher profits, of course. Here are excerpts from the article:
The Federal Trade Commission is being asked to explain why the rental car industry shouldn’t have to live by the same rule that requires auto dealers to fix vehicles under recall notice before they can be sold.
Two consumer groups and a key lawmaker, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), have asked the FTC to force the country’s largest rental company, Enterprise Holdings, to fix vehicles under recall before renting them out. Enterprise Holdings is the parent company of rental car companies Enterprise, National and Alamo
Safety groups say most business travelers or those renting cars for long trips don’t know whether the vehicle they pick up at the rental lot has been the subject of a recall, posing a potential safety threat. The issue has taken on more significance this year following a series of safety recalls by Toyota Motor and several large recalls involving other automakers.
Schumer asked the FTC on Monday to change the practice across the rental car industry, telling the federal agency in a letter that “if automotive dealers are not allowed to sell recalled vehicles without first fixing the safety issues, then rental car companies should be held to the same standard.”
“If a car is not safe enough to be bought and driven off the lot, then it is not safe enough to rent,” Schumer wrote. Threatening legislation, he said that if the FTC “can’t or won’t act, Congress will.”
Enterprise spokeswoman Laura Bryant said the company’s “practice frequently goes above and beyond what is required” and noted that Enterprise grounded more than 30,000 recalled Toyota and Pontiac vehicles this year. “In most cases, we place a ‘hold’ on recalled vehicles so they are not rented until the recall work is completed,” she said.
The requests followed a $15 million jury verdict in California this year that found Enterprise’s failure to fix a recalled Chrysler PT Cruiser led to the deaths of two sisters, Raechel and Jacqueline Houck.
The PT Cruiser they rented had been recalled for a defective power steering hose that could cause engine fires. The car caught fire while the sisters traveled on a California highway in 2004, causing them to lose steering. The vehicle struck a semitrailer truck head-on, killing the two women. Enterprise later admitted to liability in their deaths, and the jury awarded the women’s families $15 million in June.
The safety groups contend in the petition that Enterprise conducted “deceptive trade practices” by suggesting its vehicles are safe, well-maintained and reliable.”