Takata air bags: take this recall seriously

How risky is the Takata exploding air bag defect? Some commentators are downplaying the risk, and may mislead consumers into thinking they can ignore the safety recall. They point to reports about the number of known fatalities linked to the faulty air bags, which have been pegged at 6, with another 100 people suffering serious injuries.

However, as the GM ignition switch defect has taught us, the initial numbers can be deceiving. GM acknowledged only 13 fatalities. But we now know that the toll was actually much higher, numbering over 100 lives lost. Plus many more people suffered serious injuries.

In addition, the Takata air bag defect is getting worse. The problem with the air bags is linked to exposure to the elements. Over time, the number of air bags that are prone to exploding with excessive force will inevitably rise.  So will the risk to drivers and front-seat passengers.

If you own a car that is among those equipped with Takata air bags, here are some steps you can take to stay as safe as possible:

1. Check your car’s safety recall status by entering the Vehicle Identification Number on the website for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here:  https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/

2. Register to receive updates about any changes in your car’s recall status, here: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/subscriptions/index.cfm

3. If your car is being recalled to replace one or both front air bags, contact a local new car dealer and get on the list for repair parts.

4. If the repair parts are not yet available, insist that the manufacturer provide you with a rental car from a rental car company that ensures that its rental cars are not subject to a safety recall, such as Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, Dollar Thrifty, Alamo, and other major rental car companies or smaller companies (except Rent-a-Wreck).

5. Be wary of loaner cars, which dealers have on their lots. Dealers argue that they should be able to foist off unsafe, unrepaired recalled cars to consumers as loaner cars. Yes, it’s nuts. But hey, they’re car dealers.

6. If a manufacturer refuses to provide you with a safe rental car, pending repairs, let CARS know. We’re going to publicize stories about manufacturers refusing to provide safe alternative transportation, like they have promised members of Congress and the media.  Sometimes a bit of sunshine can go a long way toward convincing a company to do the right thing.

CA on track to have the worst auto safety recall law in the nation

Greedy, unscrupulous car dealers are high-fiving themselves, as Democratic and Republic legislators in California continue to vote unanimously to legalize dealers’ sales of unsafe, recalled used cars with lethal safety defects to consumers.

Testifying against the car dealers’ bill: Cally Houck, who lost her two daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline, ages 24 and 20, due to a recalled car.  A steering hose leaked, causing an under-hood fire and a loss of steering control.  The two sisters ended up colliding head-on with an 18-wheeler truck.

As their mother, Cally Houck, told legislators:  AB 287, the car dealers bill, “would protect dealers, not consumers.” The bill is being authored by Assemblymember Richard Gordon, who has said that his father and grandfather were car dealers.

Also testifying against the bill:  Mark Anderson, who testified on behalf of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. According to NACA, if the dealers win, California will become a dumping ground for unsafe, recalled cars that would be illegal for dealers to sell in other states.  That would translate into more fatalities and injuries, and higher risk for everyone who shares the roads.

According to the car dealers’ bill, the defect that killed Raechel and Jacquie would not be considered “serious.”

Read more:

Orange County Register: A record 64 million cars were recalled last year: Here’s what’s being done to make buying safer used cars

Ventura County Star: Capps introduces rental car bill named for Ojai sisters killed in crash

Car Dealers seek to legalize sales of unsafe recalled used cars

Faced with record numbers of recalled cars and lengthy shortages of repair parts, car dealers are pushing aggressively to weaken state laws that prohibit them from deceiving their customers into buying used cars with lethal safety defects.

Car dealers are eager to foist the unsafe cars off onto their customers, knowing that there is no way they will be able to get the serious safety defects repaired, for months on end. In one horrific case, a father, mother, 13-year-old daughter and brother-in-law were all killed within hours after the dealer handed them the keys to an unsafe car. The publicity surrounding that case led to Toyota’s issuing a massive safety recall, and eventually paying a record fine. However, the dealers do not seem capable of learning from that tragic incident and its aftermath.

Federal law prohibits car dealers from selling recalled NEW cars to consumers until they have been repaired.  There is no similar, specific federal law that prohibits dealers from selling recalled USED cars to consumers. However, broader, more generic state laws in every state, and some federal laws, prohibit merchants, including car dealers, from engaging in fraud, false advertising, unfair and deceptive acts and practices, anti-competitive behavior, reckless endangerment, negligence, and other shady practices. In addition, a whole body of case law exists that prohibits such illicit conduct.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has charged some dealers with violating the federal law against selling recalled new cars to consumers. What’s next? Dealers trying to make that legal too?

KPIX-TV, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco, broadcast this news report about the car dealers’ highly controversial, anti-consumer, anti-safety bill in California. Be sure to watch for the reaction at the end, by the news anchors:

KPIX-TV: Car dealers fight back over recall disclosures

 

 

 

GM Loaners May Not be Safer

From the auto safety advocates who blew the lid on the GM ignition defect — the latest twist.

We’re concerned about the safety of consumers who go to GM dealers expecting to get a safer car — not realizing the dealers may loan them a ticking time bomb.

If GM cares about its customers’ safety, why is it opposing legislation in Congress to stop rental car companies from renting vehicles that are under a safety recall? and why are its dealers opposing legislation in CA to stop them from loaning, renting, or selling recalled used cars to consumers — without bothering to get them fixed first — for FREE?

Read more: GM Loaners May Not Be Safer

Has GM changed its stripes?

General Motors executives, rocked by revelations about GM’s failure to fix known defects in its 2005 -2007 Chevy Cobalts and other cars the manufacturer produced in 2005 – 2007, seek to portray the company in a more favorable light, claiming  that the mistakes of the past belong to the “Old GM” and the “New GM”  has changed its stripes and is now more responsible and caring.

But — is it? You be the judge. Here’s what’s happening:  At the same time GM struggles to be perceived as a kindler, gentler company that actually cares about its customers’ safety, it is actively blocking legislation in the US Senate to stop rental car companies from renting unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers. In other words, if an unrepaired, recalled Cobalt happens to show up in a rental car fleet, they are perfectly willing to keep playing “recalled car roulette” with your life.

GM’s position, argued in revealing testimony by Mitch Bainwol, Executive Director of the Auto Alliance, which includes GM, is that they don’t want to have to compensate rental car companies for the down time, when the manufacturers’ unsafe, defective products languish on rental car company lots while the manufacturers and their suppliers crank out the parts necessary to fix the safety defects. The fact the manufacturers are obviously responsible for making the defective products in the first place somehow doesn’t seem to register in their consciousness. To them, it’s all about avoiding any added costs, even if that means putting their customers’ safety at risk.

Adding fuel to suspicions about GM’s supposed change of heart: GM’s now offering concerned owners of the recalled cars a loaner, to be supplied by a GM dealer. However, they have not revealed what standards, if any, the loaner cars must meet. Is GM allowing its dealers to loan out vehicles that are under a safety recall?

If you think this scenario sounds far-fetched, think again. GM dealers are opposing the same federal legislation (S 921), named for Raechel and Jacqueline Houck —  two sisters, ages 20 and 24, who were killed by a recalled rental car. GM dealers are also fighting against a popular bill currently pending in California (SB 686) that would stop them from selling, renting, leasing, or loaning unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers.

Fe Lastrella, who lost her son, daughter, granddaughter (age 13) and son-in-law in a horrific crash near San Diego, after a Toyota dealer loaned her family a runaway Lexus while their new Lexus was in the dealership for routine maintenance, gave heartbreaking testimony in favor of the California loaner car safety measure.

Dealer lobbyists dismissed her testimony as irrelevant, because the crash involved a Lexus that had not yet been recalled — although her family’s tragedy raised public awareness and sparked a massive Toyota recall.  Instead, they argued that anytime there is a delay in getting repair parts, they should not be expected to stop loaning unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers.

According to statewide polling, 88% of likely California voters disagree, and favor banning dealers from foisting unsafe, recalled vehicles into their customers. Of those, 78% “strongly” favor the restrictions.

Apparently GM and its dealers think the media can only focus on one auto safety disaster story at a time, and won’t connect the dots.

Video of US Senate hearing — GM represented by Mitch Bainwol, from Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, including GM

Senator Barbara Boxer asks: Should a rental car company be able to rent vehicles to the public when they’re under a safety recall?  Responses from auto manufacturers and dealers

Testimony of Fe Lastrella, who lost her daughter, son, granddaughter (age) 13 and son-in-law in horrific crash, due to an unsafe loaner car from Bob Baker Toyota / Lexus

Dealer lobbyists: Don’t stop us from renting, leasing, selling, or loaning unsafe recalled autos to consumers

Other vehicles besides the Chevy Cobalt included in the safety recall (so far):  2007 Pontiac G5s, 2003-7 Saturn Ions, 2006-7 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-7 Pontiac Solstices, and 2007 Saturn Skys,

GM issues safety recall over faulty ignition switches

General Motors is recalling nearly 780,000 compact cars in the US and Canada due to a faulty ignition switch. The switch can make the engine shut off without warning, causing a crash. The recalled vehicles are 2005 – 2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and 2007 Pontiac G-5s.

GM has acknowledged that 6 people have died in 22 crashes, linked to the problem.

Even something as simple as riding on rough roads or having other keys on the key ring can trigger the ignition switch to move out of the “run” position, cutting off both the engine and electrical power.

As required under federal law, GM will replace the ignition switches for free, through their franchised car dealers. However, it remains to be seen when the dealers will obtain sufficient parts to perform the safety recall repairs.

Meanwhile, GM is urging owners of the recalled vehicles to remove other items from the key rings for the ignition keys, pending repairs.

NOTE: If you are shopping for a used car, NEVER trust the dealer to ensure that the safety recall repairs have been performed. Dealers keep being caught selling unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers — including so-called “certified” used cars.

Plus — dealers are actively opposing legislation in Washington, DC and in California that would prohibit them from renting, selling, leasing, or loaning unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers, unless the safety recall repairs have been performed first.

CARS’ tips on how to buy a safe, reliable used car — without having to risk going to a dealer:

Top 12 used car buying tips

Dealers playing “used car roulette” with customers’ lives — and opposing legislation to make them stop

Did a dealer sell you an unsafe, recalled car?  We want to hear your story.  Contact CARS

 

 

 

 

Attack against Tesla : HUTZPAH

Automotive News publisher attacks Tesla over safety —
Ignores dealers who oppose having to perform safety recall repairs

“Musk Can Run, but he can’t hide,” writes Automotive News publisher Keith Crain, whose publication caters to auto dealers. Crain echoes the sentiments of auto dealers, who have mounted an aggressive campaign in an attempt to force Tesla to sell vehicles through dealership networks, where they can get a cut of the profits and subject Tesla customers to a wide variety of shady practices that further line the dealers’ pockets.

In his editorial, Crain questions whether Tesla has the ability to perform safety recalls on its cars — which so far have not even been subject to a safety recall.

He writes: “If and when, and it’s bound to be when in my opinion, his car is recalled — if not for the three Model S fires since October 1, it will be something else — he’s going to find it increasingly difficult to take care of all his customers in a timely manner. …I doubt that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will allow just anyone to repair a recalled Tesla or let the company ship parts to customers and tell them to install the replacements at their leisure.” (Automotive News: Musk car run, but he can’t hide,” by Keith Crain, Nov. 25, 2013.) Crain implies that Tesla, like other auto manufacturers, should depend on auto dealers to do the safety recall repairs.

What he conveniently fails to write is that auto dealers are aggressively opposing legislation in Washington DC and Sacramento that would require them to get unsafe, recalled rental cars or used cars fixed, before renting or selling them to consumers. A glaring fact that Automotive News has apparently forgotten.

As numerous national and local news organizations have reported, dealers have been caught time and time again selling unsafe, recalled vehicles to unsuspecting used car buyers without bothering to fix them first — even when the repairs are free.

Sample news report: Today Show finds recalled used cars for sale on dealer lots

Unless and until auto dealers show that they actually do place a priority on their customers’ safety, including sales or rentals of recalled cars, they don’t deserve to sell Teslas. They have shown over and over again that they simply can’t be trusted not to sell their customers unsafe cars, knowing full well that the safety recall repairs have not been performed.

Bottom line:  Elon Musk and Tesla are wise to avoid trusting dealers to ensure that recalled cars are safe.

Read more:

Auto dealers oppose rental car safety legislation in Washington, DC

Auto dealers oppose used car safety legislation in Sacramento, CA

Automotive News Editorial: “Musk can run, but he can’t hide”

 

 

 

 

 

US Senators Schumer, Murkowski, Boxer, and McCaskill introduce bill to ban rental car companies from renting recalled vehicles to consumers

LEGISLATION TO RECEIVE HEARING FOR FIRST TIME

A Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduces Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013 That Would Close A Dangerous Loophole That Allows Rental Car Companies To Rent Or Sell Recalled Vehicles That Are Unlawful for Car Dealers to Sell

Legislation is Named for California Girls Killed When Recalled Rental Car Caught Fire and Has Support of Rental Car Industry – Bill to Receive Hearing in Commerce Subcommittee For the First Time

Senators: Keeping Defective and Potentially Dangerous Cars Off the Road Is a Matter of Life and Death

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced legislation that would ban car rental companies from allowing consumers to rent or sell vehicles that are under manufacturer recall. The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013 is supported by all the major car rental companies – Hertz, Enterprise, Avis Budget, Dollar Thrifty, and National – as well as the American Car Rental Association – together representing virtually 100 percent of the rental car market.

While current law prohibits car dealerships from selling recalled vehicles to consumers, no law bans rental car companies from doing the same or renting them to unsuspecting consumers. The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013 would keep unsafe rental cars that have been recalled off the road. Later this month, Senator Claire McCaskill, the Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, Consumer Protection Subcommittee, intends to hold a hearing on the bill.

“Rental car companies are rolling the dice with passengers’ lives each and every time they rent a car that’s under a recall,” said Senator Schumer. “This practice has already proved tragic. Most rental companies have now changed their policies, but we need a law to ensure that recalled cars are never again driven off of rental lots. This bipartisan bill is a common sense safety measure, and I’m very grateful that Senator McCaskill has agreed to hold a hearing on it.”

“This legislation honors the memory of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck – two beautiful girls who lost their lives in a senseless tragedy – by ensuring that no other family will have to fear that the rental car they are driving is unsafe,” said Senator Boxer. “Because of the tireless work of their mother, Cally, we are able to introduce this bipartisan bill today that will make sure that vehicles rented or sold by rental car companies are safe and sound.”

“Our goals for this legislation are twofold—to protect families, and to prevent undue burdens for employers—and this agreement succeeds on both fronts,” said McCaskill, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, which will hold a hearing on the legislation later this month. “Neither side got everything they wanted, but by everybody giving a little, we’re getting a lot—and that’s what compromise is all about.”

“No other family should have to endure such horrific losses just because a rental car company didn’t bother to ensure that their cars are not being recalled due to safety defects,” said Cally Houck, the mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck.

Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety added, “We’re optimistic that Congress will act to stop all rental car companies from playing ‘rental car roulette’ with their customers’ lives.”

In 2004, sisters Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were killed driving a rental car that had been recalled for a power steering hose defect but had not been repaired. The car caught fire because of the defect while traveling on the highway, causing a loss of steering and a head-on collision with a semi-trailer truck. The young women died in the crash. The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013 is needed to ensure this tragedy is not repeated.

Getting unsafe vehicles off the road is integral to improving safety and saving lives. This is why current law requires manufacturers to recall vehicles that have safety-related defects or do not meet federal safety standards. Current law also prohibits auto dealers from selling a new car under recall unless the defect has been remedied. The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013 would, for the first time, hold rental companies to the same standard as auto dealers. Specifically, the bill:

· Prohibits Rental or Sale of Vehicles Subject to a Safety Recall. Under the senators’ plan, vehicles may not be rented or sold until the vehicles are fixed, consistent with existing law for new car dealers, who have been prohibited from selling or leasing recalled vehicles for decades. Rental companies would be permitted to sell a damaged vehicle subject to recall for parts or scrap with a junk title.

· Requires Rental Companies to Ground Vehicles Under a Safety Recall. The bill would ensure that vehicles under a safety recall will be grounded as soon as possible but no later than 24 hours after the rental company gets the safety recall notice. Rental companies will have up to 48 hours for recalls that include more than 5,000 vehicles in their fleet.

· Permits Rental Companies to Rely on Temporary Measures Identified by Manufacturers. If a manufacturer’s recall notice specifies steps that can be taken to eliminate the safety risk until parts are available, a rental company may continue to rent the vehicle if those measures are put in place but must ground and repair the vehicle once parts become available.

· Ensures NHTSA Has Tools Necessary to Protect Consumers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will have authority to investigate and police rental companies’ recall safety practices.

The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013 is supported by Carol (Cally) Houck – mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Center for Auto Safety, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Action, National Association of Consumer Advocates, and Trauma Foundation.

The bill has been endorsed by all the major car rental companies – Hertz, Enterprise, Avis Budget, Dollar Thrifty, and National – as well as the American Car Rental Association. The bill also is supported by the Truck Renting and Leasing Association, representing the vast majority of truck renting and leasing operations in the United States, as well as AAA and State Farm.

Enterprise

“Although most of the car rental industry already prohibits renting or selling recalled cars if they haven’t been repaired, lawmakers can further reassure car rental customers across the board by supporting and voting in favor of this important federal legislation. As a result, we will continue advocating on behalf of this bill and working diligently with consumer advocates, the American Car Rental Association and other key stakeholders to help get it passed.”

The American Car Rental Association

“The American Car Rental Association (ACRA) is pleased to join with consumer advocates in support of this legislation, which prohibits the rental of any vehicle that has an unrepaired safety recall and addresses certain practical implementation issues of our industry. It is critically important that Congress codify what most of the car rental industry voluntarily enacted last year. By formally creating a uniform standard, both car-rental and car-sharing customers will have even greater confidence going forward no matter where they rent their vehicles.”

Hertz

“Hertz supports efforts to prohibit car rental companies from renting or selling recalled cars if they haven’t been repaired. The major companies do an excellent job handling recalls, and consumers should have confidence that the cars they drive are safe; this legislation will help improve the public’s perception of our industry’s commitment to safety.”

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CA Senator Boxer and U.S. Rep. Capps: Stop Renting Unsafe Cars to Consumers, Federal Workers

Are the rental cars driven by consumers and federal employees safe? Or are they prone to catching fire, having brake failures, or other serious safety defects?

CA Senator Boxer and U.S. Rep. Lois Capps call on Congress and federal agency to protect consumers and federal workers from unsafe rental cars

Lawmakers Urge Agency to Take Action Now While Congress Works on Legislation to Stop the Renting or Selling of Vehicles Under Safety Recall

Santa Barbara, CA – On August 10, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA23) sent a letter calling on Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Jeffrey Zients to take steps to protect federal workers from renting vehicles under safety recall while they are traveling on official business.

Boxer and Capps are the lead authors of House and Senate legislation – the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012 – which would ensure the safety of America’s rental car fleet by preventing rental car companies from renting or selling recalled cars or trucks. The legislation is named in honor of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were killed in a tragic accident in 2004 caused by an unrepaired defect in a PT Cruiser rented from Enterprise that was under a safety recall.

The two California lawmakers wrote in the letter, “This terrible accident drew attention to the fact that car rental companies are not required to repair vehicles under safety recall before they are rented or sold to the public. We have written legislation to close this loophole and are working with our colleagues in the House and Senate to enact this measure into law.

“In the meantime, we believe it is imperative that we protect people from unsafe recalled vehicles,” the lawmakers wrote. “So today we are urging the Federal government to put in place policies that will ensure that no Federal employee rents a vehicle under safety recall until it has been fixed.”

Senator Boxer and Congresswoman Capps announced the letter at a press conference at Santa Barbara Airport today. They were joined by Cally Houck of Ojai, California, the mother of Raechel and Jacqueline, who along with Hertz and consumer groups has endorsed the new House and Senate rental car safety legislation.

The text of the letter follows:

August 10, 2012

Dear Acting Director Zients:

We are writing today to call on your agency to ensure the safety of all Federal employees driving rental vehicles while on official duty.

In 2004, Raechel and Jacqueline Houck of Ojai, California, were killed in a tragic accident caused by an unrepaired defect in a rental car that was under a safety recall. This terrible accident drew attention to the fact that car rental companies are not required to repair vehicles under safety recall before they are rented or sold to the public. We have written legislation to close this loophole and are working with our colleagues in the House and Senate to enact this measure into law.

In the meantime, we believe it is imperative that we protect people from unsafe recalled vehicles. So today we are urging the Federal government to put in place policies that will ensure that no Federal employee rents a vehicle under safety recall until it has been fixed.

On July 30, 2012, the California Department of General Services announced plans to amend the State’s contracts with Enterprise to include specific policies for recalled vehicles. The Director of the Department of General Services, Fred Klass, wrote “Under the terms of the amended contract, Enterprise will be required to repair all recalled vehicles prior to making them available to State employees. In addition, Enterprise will be required to call back any vehicles already being rented to State employees once a recall notice is issued so those vehicles can be exchanged for a non-recalled vehicle.”

We urge the Federal government to act now to protect Federal workers from the type of tragedy that this California family endured. We would be happy to work with you on this critical matter.

Sincerely,
Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

Lois Capps
Member of Congress

US Senators Boxer, Feinstein Introduce Rental Car Safety Legislation

Boxer, Feinstein Introduce Legislation to Ensure Safety of America’s Rental Car Fleet

Legislation Would End the Practice of Renting or Selling Vehicles Under Safety Recall

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA) today introduced the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012, legislation that will ensure the safety of America’s rental car fleet by preventing rental car companies from renting or selling cars or trucks that are under safety recall.

The two California Senators introduced the legislation named in honor of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, two sisters from Santa Cruz, ages 24 and 20, who were killed while driving a recalled Chrysler PT Cruiser they had rented from Enterprise in 2004. About a month before the deadly crash, Enterprise received a recall notice that the PT Cruiser had a defective power steering hose that was prone to catching fire and that it would be repaired by Chrysler free-of-charge. Despite the warning, Enterprise did not get the vehicle repaired and rented it out to three other customers before renting it to the Houck sisters. The defect caused the car to catch fire and crash head-on into a tractor-trailer, killing both sisters.

Their mother, Cally Houck, has joined with consumer groups in support of the new legislation, which would close a loophole in safety standards by requiring rental car companies to ground recalled vehicles as soon as they receive a safety recall notice and prohibit them from being rented or sold until they are fixed. Auto-dealers are already subject to these requirements and the bill would simply extend the same requirements to rental car companies.

“We cannot allow another family to go through the pain and loss that Cally and her family have gone through,” Senator Boxer said. “We will not rest until Congress has passed legislation that protects American consumers from these unsafe vehicles, and we urge all the rental car companies to join Hertz in committing to the safety of their customers.”

Earlier this year, Senator Boxer sent a letter asking the nation’s four leading rental car companies – Enterprise, Hertz, Avis/Budget and Dollar/Thrifty – to protect consumers from unsafe vehicles by making the following pledge: “Effective immediately, our company is making a permanent commitment to not rent out or sell any vehicles under safety recall until the defect has been remedied.”

Of the four companies – which together control 92 percent of the rental car market – only Hertz agreed to the pledge in its entirety. Senator Boxer is continuing to urge the companies to take the pledge and fully protect their customers.

The Senate bill is the companion legislation to a bill introduced last month by Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA), Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). The new House and Senate bills are an updated version of legislation introduced last year by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Boxer, Senator Feinstein and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

The new House and Senate legislation is supported by Hertz, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Center for Auto Safety, Consumer Action, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the Trauma Foundation.

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Senator Boxer challenges rental car companies to take safety pledge

California’s U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer has issued a challenge to the 4 major rental car companies to pledge not to rent or sell vehicles that are being recalled due to safety defects.

Hertz immediately responded and took the pledge. But its competitors — Enterprise-National-Alamo, Avis-Budget, and Dollar-Thrifty so far have failed to take the pledge. Hertz is the #2 rental car company in the nation, in terms of its share of the rental car market.

Earlier this year, CARS announced that we reached a historic agreement with Hertz, which split from its competitors and agreed to support federal legislation, named for Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, two sisters, ages 24 and 20, who were killed by an Enterprise rental car that was under a safety recall.

Enterprise received the recall notice from Chrysler about 30 days before renting the killer car to Raechel and Jacquie, but didn’t bother taking it to a dealership to get it fixed, before renting it to them.

Instead of taking the pledge, Enterprise, Avis, and Dollar complained they are being treated unfairly, since individual consumers are not required to ground recalled cars until they are fixed. They just don’t get it — no one should have to worry about a rental car company deliberately renting them an unsafe car.

Sen. Boxer’s safety pledge simply says:

“Effective immediately, our company is making a permanent commitment to not rent out or sell any vehicles under safety recall until the defect has been remedied.”

Enterprise told the St.Louis Post-Dispatch that it insists on being able to pick and choose whether to ground recalled cars, or not. A spokesperson for Enterprise raised the example of a car with a seat belt chime that doesn’t work, as the type of defect Enterprise thinks is safe enough to keep renting to consumers.

However, according to Robert Vinetz, MD, FAAP, of Los Angeles, a leading pediatrician who is well-known for his work to improve safety for infants and children, such a defect endangers kids. Many parents rely on the chimes to alert them if a child is not buckled up, or if their buckle has become unfastened. Without the warning chime, a parent may not realize their child is unsecured — with disastrous results.

Instead of being an example of why rental car companies should be allowed to second-guess auto manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Enterprise’s example is a classic argument for why they should be required to ground recalled cars until they are fixed. Period.

Read more — St Louis Post-Dispatch report:

Had a bad rental car experience?

Know someone hurt by an unsafe rental car? Tell us your story here.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car company, which also owns National and Alamo, has been putting their customers’ lives at risk by renting out cars that are so unsafe, they are being recalled by the manufacturer. We believe you should not have to worry about your family’s safety just because the rental car company neglected to get an unsafe car fixed.

But — Enterprise  disagrees. They want to be allowed to keep renting and selling unsafe cars. Especially over major holidays.That’s when they may run out of safe cars, and can’t meet the increased demand without resorting to cars that are under a recall.

     That’s why we’re fighting to prevent tragic incidents like the one that resulted in the deaths of Jacqueline and Raechel Houck, ages 20 and 24, who were killed by an unsafe Enterprise rental car — that was under a safety recall. They were told they were getting an “upgrade.” Instead, they were being rented a vehicle that caught on fire and caused their deaths. It also put others who shared the roads in danger. Enterprise received the safety recall notice from Chrysler about 30 days before Raechel and Jacquie showed up, but continued to rent the car anyway, without bothering to fix it first.

To its credit, Hertz said that it does NOT rent vehicles that are under a safety recall. Hertz is supporting the Raechel and Jacquie Houck Rental Car Safety Act, that would require rental car companies to ground unsafe, recalled cars until they are fixed. Unfortunately, Enterprise is opposed to the legislation and has been working behind the scenes to kill it.

How can you guard against unsafe, recalled rental cars?

     Don’t rely on what the clerk behind the counter tells you. Unfortunately, they have a conflict of interest and may not even know the answer, or may lie.

If you have a smart phone or other device with internet access, get the Vehicle Identification Number of the car the rental car company is offering to rent to you. Go to the manufacturer’s website and in the search box, enter “safety recall.” Then enter the VIN number to see if there’s a pending safety recall, or if the repairs have been completed.

If you don’t have access to the internet, ask the clerk to use the company’s computer to check the manufacturer’s website and print off the report on the car, including the VIN, and hand it to you. Make sure the VIN on the report matches the VIN on the car. It should be on a tag on the dashboard, and also on a sticker on the driver’s door jamb.

Take action — how can you stop rental car roulette?

Protect yourself and your family. Insist on checking the VIN for safety recalls before you sign anything.

If you reserved your car online through an airline or another website — they have clout with the rental car companies. Comment on the airline’s Facebook page that you want them to ensure that their contract with the rental car company prohibits renting cars that are under a safety recall.

Complain on the rental car company’s Facebook page about their policies. If they hear from enough of us, they will have to stop trying to kill the safety law, and ground unsafe cars until they’re fixed.

     Would you “Like” Enterprise and other companies to stop renting unsafe vehicles?
Show your support by “Liking” this on Facebook, by clicking the “Like” button below.
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