Consumers for
Reliability and

Press Releases

October 30, 2013
CARS files Car Buyers Protection Act Initiative
for the Nov. 2014 Ballot in California

Statewide polling shows overwhelming support among likely voters
88% favor safety recall provision

The Car Buyers Protection Act will:
  • Make it illegal for car dealers to sell, rent, lease, or loan used vehicles that are under a federal safety recall, unless the safety recall repairs have been performed
  • Improve protections for car buyers who are victims of ID theft at auto dealerships
  • Prohibit dealers from hiring people convicted of ID theft, forgery, or other fraud, for positions where they would have access to car buyers' personal financial information
  • Prohibit dealers from engaging in "bait and switch" financing (also known as yo-yo financing)
  • Prohibit dealer markups – hidden extra charges that raise the cost of financing car purchases and cost California car buyers over $2.6 billion in a single year
  • Require all dealers to provide at least a 30 day / 1,000 mile warranty (currently, only “buy here pay here” dealers are required to provide minimum warranties, so many other dealers continue to sell faulty vehicles “AS IS”)
  • Eliminate the New Motor Vehicle Board's authority to overrule the DMV when the agency disciplines an auto dealer or manufacturer for violating consumer protection laws
Read more:
News Release

California Statewide Polling Results

Car Buyers Protection Act -- Summary and background about each provision

TEXT of Car Buyers Protection Act filed with CA Attorney General

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November 13, 2012
Consumer groups warn about flood car hazards
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety and National Consumers League issue warnings, tips for car buyers

Read more: "CARS and NCL news release: beware of flood cars"

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November 2, 2012
Buyer Beware: Flood cars from states hit by Hurricane Sandy
Tens of thousands of flood cars that have been submerged in salt water, and contaminated by bacteria and various toxins, will soon start to appear all over the country, even in states far from the center of the storm. Flood cars are inherently unsafe, and pose a serious risk to anyone who drives them, rides in them, or even just comes into contact with them.

Flood cars are basically rotting from the inside out. The electronic / computer systems, which control everything including the brakes, engine, air bags, and other major safety systems, are hopelessly compromised and will inevitably corrode and fail, over time.

Bacteria, mold, and other contaminants can cause serious or fatal health problems, particularly among children and adults with asthma and people with allergies or compromised immune systems.

Tips for consumers — how to avoid flood car scams:
  • Be on the lookout for both new and used cars with tell-tale signs of having been submerged — musty smell or "over-perfumed," silt in places like under carpeting, in the well where the spare is stored, or title histories indicating the car was in the flood area
  • Check federal database of total loss cars prior to purchase (this is the official website for the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, established by the US Dept. of Justice, where insurers, self-insured entities, salvage pools (auctions), and junkyards in all 50 states MUST report all total loss vehicles, within 30 days — many report daily)
  • If the vehicle is relatively new, or still within the factory warranty period, get the VIN number and call the manufacturer to ask if they will honor the warranty — if it's a flood car, they won't honor the warranty, even if it's new. Insist on getting confirmation in writing that the manufacturer will honor the warranty, before you buy
  • Keep in mind that a "clean" title is not an indication the car is OK — many cars have had the titles "washed" to remove the "flood" car brand, and many states don't even have a "flood" car designation. Plus some insurers have admitted routinely failing to properly brand titles — increasing the price the car can command at auction, by making it easier for unscrupulous sellers to hide the car's checkered past. This is one reason NMVTIS is so valuable for consumers — total loss vehicles MUST be reported to NMVTIS, even if the titles have never been branded, or if they have been "washed."
  • Get any car inspected by a trustworthy auto technician — for example, one who gets consistently high ratings in Car Talk's Mechanics Files — before you buy
  • Test drive the car before you buy — be watchful for signs the car is hesitating, running rough, smells musty, has tell-tale signs of silt or premature rust in places where you wouldn't expect to see rust
NEVER, EVER buy a car sight unseen, without an inspection and test drive. If you are interested in a car you found over the internet, buy locally and go check it out in person, in a safe, public place, during daylight hours. It the seller claims they are the owner, make sure they show you the work orders from the repairs they had performed, and confirm the name on the work orders matches the name on the registration and title.

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News release issued by U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, and Claire McCaskill
September 27, 2012
Rental Car Companies Are Not Currently Barred From Renting or Selling Cars That Have Been Recalled—New Senate Legislation Will Bar Practice

For First Time Ever, All Four Major Car Rental Companies—Enterprise/National/Alamo, Hertz/Advantage, Avis/Budget, and Dollar/Thrifty—Have Endorsed New Safety Requirements

With Industry Backing Secured, Senators Hope For Speedy Senate Passage Of New Measure In November
WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) announced Thursday that they have reached an agreement with the top four rental car companies in the U.S. to stop the renting or selling of vehicles that have been recalled by their manufacturer.

Under the agreement, rental car companies Enterprise/National/Alamo, Hertz/Advantage, Avis/Budget, and Dollar/Thrifty, as well as the American Car Rental Association, have all endorsed new legislation authored by the senators to ensure recalled vehicles stay off the road. Together, the four companies represent 93 percent of the rental car market.

The deal caps a years-long push by the senators and consumer safety advocates to fix a loophole in current law. While car dealers are prohibited from selling a recalled automobile, rental car companies are not barred from renting or selling one. The new Senate bill would change this, requiring 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.

Also under the senators' legislation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will, for the first time, have authority to investigate and police rental car companies' recall safety practices.

Senator Schumer said: "This breakthrough was years in the making. It will help take recalled rental cars off the road for good. Consumers will no longer have to worry about what they aren't being told when they go to the rental car counter. With the industry's full backing, we think we have a great shot to get this legislation passed before the end of the year."

Senator Boxer said: "No one obtaining a car from a rental car company should ever have to worry that it's been recalled. This compromise makes clear that vehicles rented or sold by rental car companies must be safe and sound." Senator McCaskill said: "This agreement has required compromise from stakeholders on all sides, but it's resulted in a solution that boosts safety for Missouri families without undue burdens for employers in our state. Consumer advocates and industry representatives were able bridge their differences and find common ground here, and that's what we need more of in politics. I plan to work as hard as I know how to get this agreement enacted into law as soon as possible, because it is the right thing to do for consumer safety, for providing certainty for our employers and for the legacy of two daughters lost in a tragic accident."

The senators were joined for the announcement Thursday by longtime safety advocate Cally Houck of California. Houck's two daughters—Raechel and Jacqueline Houck—were killed in a 2004 crash due to a safety issue with their rental car that went unfixed despite a recall by the manufacturer.

In memory of the Houck daughters, the Senate bill is named the "Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012."

Houck said: ""If this bill had been the law, and the rental companies complied, my beautiful, precious daughters would still be alive. My abiding hope is that it will be enacted, and other families will be spared our devastating loss."

The senators' agreement with the rental car industry was also hailed by consumer safety groups.

Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), said: "Consumers should not have to worry about rental car companies playing "rental car roulette" with their safety. This bill will make both car renters and used car buyers safer."

The legislation is also endorsed by AAA, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Consumers Union, and State Farm Insurance.

The Senate legislation endorsed Thursday by the four major rental car companies includes revisions from earlier bills introduced by Schumer and Boxer. For instance, though the bill stipulates that vehicles may not be rented or sold until the vehicles are fixed, one exception is allowed for rental companies to sell a recalled vehicle with a junk title for parts or scrap.

Another revision notes that if a manufacturer's recall notice specifies temporary steps that can be taken to eliminate the safety risk until new 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 the new parts become available.

The rental car companies released public letters of support for the new Senate legislation.

In its letter, Hertz—which worked with CARS to become the first company to support federal legislation barring the rental of recalled vehicles—hailed the new version of the bill as "consensus legislation." The company said "the current draft makes only minor changes to the original CARS/Hertz agreement, while completely fulfilling the original intent to keep unsafe cars off the road. Accordingly, we are pleased to express our strong support for this proposal and commit to help secure its passage as soon as possible."

In a separate letter, Enterprise, Avis and Dollar/Thrifty wrote: "For the last year we have worked closely with all stakeholders to develop legislation that would carry wide support. We firmly believe that this consensus legislation accomplishes this objective. We applaud the work of Sens. Schumer, Boxer, McCaskill and Blunt to facilitate and support a process through which this legislation could be developed. Our industry will work for its successful passage."

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News release issued by U.S. Representative Lois Capps
July 10, 2012
Capps, Engel, Schakowsky Introduce Legislation in Honor of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck to Ensure the Safety of America's Rental Car Fleet
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23), Congressman Eliot Engel (NY-17 ), and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) 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 prohibiting the rental or sale of vehicles under a recall.

The legislation is named in honor of sisters Raechel and Jacqueline Houck of Ojai, California, who were tragically killed while driving a recalled Chrysler PT Cruiser rented from Enterprise in 2004. About one month before the Houck sisters were killed, Enterprise received a recall notice that the PT Cruiser had a defective steering component 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.

Specifically, the bill would close an existing gap in safety standards by requiring rental car companies to ground recalled vehicles as soon as they receive a safety recall notice, and prohibit the vehicles from being rented or sold until required repairs are made. Auto-dealers are already subject to these requirements and the bill would simply extend the same requirements to rental car companies. In instances where a recalled vehicle is currently being rented, a rental car company would be required to notify the renter as soon as practicable.

"If a recall notice has been issued for a rented car, that car should be taken off the road until it's fixed – it's that simple," said Capps. "Passing this straightforward bill will protect the public's safety and ensure that what happened to Raechel and Jacquie Houck will never happen again. I've been proud to work with Cally Houck, the mother of Raechel and Jacqueline, auto safety advocates, and Hertz to put forward this commonsense proposal, and I will continue working with all stakeholders to reach agreement on a legislative solution that protects consumers by prohibiting rental companies from renting or selling unrepaired recalled vehicles, with no exceptions."

"This necessary legislation is a simple fix to ensure no one else will be put in danger by driving a rental car which has been recalled," Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce. "What happened to Raechel and Jacquie Houck was a tragedy which could have, and should have, been avoided. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this legislation. I applaud Cally Houck for her tireless work on this issue. Hertz and other stakeholders should also be commended for supporting this legislation. This bill will save lives, and I call on my colleagues and the other car rental agencies to support this legislation."

"It's inexcusable that there is a loophole allowing rental car companies to keep unsafe vehicles on the road – endangering the lives of tens of thousands of rental car drivers and their families. It is the responsibility of car companies to ensure consumers and their families are not putting themselves at risk by unknowingly renting vehicles subject to recall," said Schakowsky. "I applaud my colleague Rep. Capps' leadership on this issue. I am pleased that an agreement could be reached with Hertz to close this loophole and I hope other car rental companies follow their lead. This is a common sense bill that would protect the public's safety and save lives. All consumers should feel confident that the vehicle they are driving is safe."

"I deeply appreciate Representative Capps, Engel, and Schakowky standing up for consumers. This legislation will help spare other families from suffering such a horrendous loss because of a careless rental car company," said Cally Houck.

"This bill sends a clear message to Enterprise, Dollar, and Thrifty, which have been working behind the scenes to oppose Cally Houck's efforts -- it's time to stop playing 'rental car roulette' with their customers' lives," said Rosemary Shahan, President, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

The legislation is supported by Carol S. "Cally" Houck, mother of Raechel and Jacqueline, Hertz, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, National Association of Consumer Advocates, and the Trauma Foundation.

Last year, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced similar legislation (S. 1445) named after the two sisters.

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Aug. 9, 2010
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:

Read the petition filed by CAS and CARS: PDF file

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What's NEW?
Toyota recalls over 6.39 million vehicles over safety defects
Toyota Motor Corp is recalling more than 6.39 million vehicles globally after uncovering five different safety defects, ranging from faulty steering to air bags that may not inflated when needed in a crash.

Toyota said it was not aware of any crashes or injuries caused by the defects, which occur in 27 Toyota models including 2009-2010 Corollas, 2009-2010 Matrixes, 2008-2010 Highlanders, 2009-2010 Tacoma trucks, 2006-2008 RAV4s and 2006-2010 Yaris compact cars.

Toyota agreed last month to pay $1.2 billion to the U.S. government for withholding information related to unintended acceleration in its vehicles. That safety crisis led Toyota to recall more than 9 million vehicles.

Toyota is recalling 3.5 million vehicles to replace a spiral cable that may be damaged when the steering wheel is turned. That could cause the air bag to fail in a crash.

Another 472,500 vehicles, including 2006-2010 Yaris hatchbacks, 2007-2010 Yaris sedans and 2008-2010 Scion xDs, are being recalled in the U.S. due to faulty seat rails that could allow the seat to slide forward in a crash, injuring the driver or passengers.

Read More:
Los Angeles Times: Massive Toyota recall
Buyer beware: NEVER trust that a dealer will have the safety recall repairs performed before selling you a car that is being recalled. Dealers are so eager to make a buck, fast, they are unwilling to delay sales long enough to get the safety recall repairs done -- for FREE.

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

Buyer Beware! Auto dealers' one-
sided contracts can ruin your life
Even if the dealer breaks the law, you might not be able to get justice. Forced arbitration clauses hidden in the fine print can keep you tied up for years. The dealer even gets to pick the arbitrator who hears your case. Here's what happened to a car buyer in San Diego:
Think this is outrageous? Call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121, and urge them to vote for the Arbitration Fairness Act. More about the AFA, now pending before Congress:
Here's what we're doing to bring
more attention to Jon's plight:
Used Car Nightmare logo

Jon Perz has started a new petition
on the website
You're invited to check it out and send a message letting Mossy Toyota know what you think.
used car nightmare petition

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