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.

Senator Boxer champions rental car safety law

Senator Rockefeller agrees rental car safety belongs in large auto safety billCiting the tragic crash that killed Raechel and Jacqueline Houck in an unsafe Enterprise rental car, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) spoke passionately about the need to prohibit rental car companies from renting unsafe, recalled vehicles to the public. Sen. Boxer quoted a former Enterprise manager, who said in a court deposition: “When demand called, we rented out recalled vehicles. If all you have on the lot are recalled vehicles, you rent them out … It was a given. The whole company did it. Enterprise’s corporate offices looked the other way regarding this fact.“

Sen. Boxer made this statement as a member of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, which voted to move forward with legislation to re-authorize the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. She pledged to work to ensure that the final bill presented on the Senate floor addresses the problem of unsafe rental cars.

Cally Houck, mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, praised Sen. Boxer for her strong stand for improving rental car safety, noting that it was ” very politically courageous.”

The owner of Enterprise Rental Cars, Jack Taylor, is the richest car guy in the nation. For years, he has been listed among the top richest people in the nation, in the Forbes list of the richest people in the U.S.

Read more: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_19548639

See video of Sen. Boxer, speaking at Senate Commerce Committee hearing, Dec. 14, 2011: Sen. Boxer on the CARS YouTube channel

Rental car companies play “rental car roulette”

~ Endanger customers’ lives
~ Try to defeat law to prohibit renting vehicles under a safety recallIn letters submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last April, major rental car companies admitted to federal regulators that they keep renting vehicles to the public, even when they know they are so unsafe they are being recalled by the manufacturer due to safety defects.
For example, Enterprise Rental Car Co. wrote that:
“A committee of senior executives of the parent company, including the executives responsible for vehicle maintenance and repair, evaluates recall notices. If the committee is confident that we can continue to safely rent the vehicle, we may rent the vehicle prior to the recall work being completed.”
Dollar Thrifty wrote that they also second-guess the manufacturer and NHTSA, stating:
“[It has formed a] Vehicle Safety Team [that] is comprised of the Senior Executive Vice President of Operations, the Vice President of Fleet Operations, the Executive Director of Maintenance, and a Corporate Attorney…Dollar Thrifty’s Vehicle Safety Team evaluates safety recall notices to determine if a Hard Ground Response (i.e. vehicle not rented until vehicle is remedied), a Normal Response (i.e. defect remedied at next maintenance event), or a customized response is warranted…Based upon information in the recall notice and additional consultation with the relevant manufacturer, Dollar Thrifty draws distinctions between safety recalls based on the degree of safety risk posed by the defect.”

The letters from the rental car companies were submitted to the federal safety agency, in response to a formal Audit Query. The trade association for the rental car companies also stated, in a letter to members of the U.S. Senate, that after their member companies get recall notices, within the next 30-60 days, they usually fix only about 80 – 90% of the unsafe vehicles. Meanwhile, thanks to a loophole in the law, they may continue to rent or sell them to unsuspecting customers.

Obviously, 30-60 days is too long, and 80-90% is not enough. In one tragic case, two sisters, Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, ages 24 and 20, were killed by an unsafe Enterprise rental car about 30 days after Enterprise received the safety recall notice from the manufacturer. Meanwhile, Enterprise rented the defective vehicle to 3 other people. Any of them could have been killed. The car, a Chrysler PT Cruiser, was being recalled because it had a defect in a steering component that would cause an under-hood fire and also a loss of steering control. Raechel and Jacquie were riding in the car when the defect occurred. Witnesses saw the vehicle on fire. The sisters ended up colliding with an 18-wheeler, and the PT Cruiser exploded into flames. Their mother, Cally Houck, and brother, Greg Houck, have become ardent advocates for changing the law so other families will be spared the same horrific loss.

Eventually, after more than 5 years of denying it had any liability, and trying to blame the crash on the young women, Enterprise admitted it was 100% responsible for the deaths of Raechel and Jacquie — about a week before the case was heard by a jury.

Read more: http://carconsumers.org/new.htm

FTC Petitioned to Halt Enterprise’s Deadly Practice of Renting Defective Vehicles

Two auto safety advocacy groups, joined by the mother of two girls killed in the crash of a defective vehicle knowingly rented to them by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, today petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to take action to stop Enterprise and its owner company from renting out recalled but unrepaired vehicles to customers.

Employees of Enterprise Rent-A-Car and its owner, Enterprise Holdings – the company that also owns the National and Alamo car rental businesses – have admitted that the company’s procedures allow them to rent out cars that have been recalled by a manufacturer due to a safety defect but not yet repaired, and to withhold this information from customers. “There is nothing in place that keeps an employee from renting that car… Enterprise’s corporate offices looked the other way regarding this fact,” a company manager has testified.

The petition, to “remedy Enterprise’s deceptive trade practices,” was filed by the Center for Auto Safety (CAS), Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), and Carol S. Houck. Enterprise Holding is North America’s largest provider of rental vehicles.

Read more: www.autosafety.org/…deadly-practice-renting-defective-vehicles

Read the petition filed by CAS and CARS: PDF file