When automakers issue a recall on their vehicles, they immediately notify their dealerships to put a halt on selling the vehicle until a fix is made. Yet rental car companies can continue to rent out such recalled vehicles.
Such a loophole may have lead to the tragic deaths of sisters Jacqueline and Raechel Houck back in 2004. According to their mother, the two had rented a Chrysler PT Cruiser (pictured) from Enterprise Rent a Car when they lost control and perished in a head-on collision with a truck. The crash had been attributed to a hose defect in the Cruiser, which had a recall out at the time for the very issue. Despite this and pressure from consumer groups like the Center for Auto Safety, and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, car rental companies have been reluctant to pull such vehicles from their fleet.
Well, their reluctance is no more. The four largest car rental companies–Avis, Dollar, Enterprise, and Hertz–recently agreed to back federal legislation to take out recalled vehicles from circulation. States Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York), “Today we are closing this loophole in the law once and for all.”
The legislation is called the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012, named after the two young ladies. Schumer hopes the Senate to pass the bill after the November presidential elections.
Automotive.com’s take: While the U.S. recession is officially over, many Americans are still reluctant to spend, favoring “staycations” instead of renting out cars for a holiday trip. The last thing the rental car companies want is a reputation renting lethal vehicles to customers. Dead people really don’t make good return customers, you know? Unless they’re zombies.