Press Releases

NEWS: For immediate release August 10, 2016
Contact: Rosemary Shahan – 530-759-9440
Consumer Group Warns: Avoid Buying Used Cars from CarMax
       Today Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety warned used car buyers to steer clear of CarMax, which continues to sell unsafe, defective recalled cars, including vehicles with dangerous Takata air bags that have been linked to 10 deaths and over 100 injuries, including loss of eyesight and strokes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Takata air bags in some models pose a 50% chance of exploding with excessive force and spewing metal fragments at drivers and / or passengers in a crash, and should be driven only to a dealership for repairs.

       “CarMax sells cars that are ticking timebombs on wheels,” said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), a non-profit auto safety and consumer advocacy organization. “Car buyers should avoid shopping at CarMax unless they stop selling recalled cars with lethal safety defects that they fail to get repaired.”

       Many of the recalled vehicles CarMax offers for sale cannot be repaired, because the manufacturer has not yet developed a fix, or because of parts shortages – leaving car buyers and their passengers at risk. Most, if not all, auto manufacturers require their franchised car dealers to refrain from selling defective recalled cars, pending repairs. It may take years before enough repair parts are available to repair recalled cars such as the more than 100 million vehicles worldwide with Takata airbag inflators that need to be replaced before 2019.

       Under broad, general state laws in all 50 states, it is illegal for car dealers to sell recalled used cars to consumers. Dealers who sold recalled used cars have faced lawsuits for violating implied warranties, engaging in unfair and deceptive acts or practices, or violating more specific laws such as New York's requirement for dealers to certify that all used vehicles they offer for sale are “roadworthy.”

       When people have been injured or killed by the defective cars, the dealers also faced legal action alleging negligence or wrongful death, or violation of the common law duty of care. Some dealers have entered into confidential settlements with families of victims killed by their negligence.

       CarMax is the largest retailer of used cars in the nation. CarMax advertises that all the cars it offers for sale must pass a “125+ point Certified Quality Inspection.” However, CarMax often fails to ensure that safety recall repairs are performed prior to sale. More details about CarMax's sales of recalled cars are posted at:

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Schumer, Boxer, Mccaskill re-introduce Safe Rental Car Act to keep rental cars under recall off the roads and ban rental car companies from renting or selling recalled vehicles
The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2015
Would Close Dangerous Loophole that Currently Allows Rental
Car Companies to Rent or Sell Recalled Vehicles
Legislation Has Support of Both Industry and Auto Safety Groups
and Was Recently Endorsed by General Motors and DOT
Secretary Foxx
Schumer: This Common Sense Legislation Would Save Lives
and Make Our Roads Much Safer

Read more:
Schumer, Boxer, McCaskill Re-introduce Safe Rental Car Act

McCaskill Urges Automakers, Dealers to Support Rental Car Safety Bill with Release of Safety Analysis
Senator releases safety agency’s analysis finding auto industry counterproposal ‘would not adequately protect rental consumers and the driving public in the event of a recall’
"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analyzed language suggested by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers as an alternative to the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act, which requires that rental cars subject to an open safety recall be grounded and repaired before they are rented to consumers. The bill has the support of the rental car industry, auto safety groups, and General Motors. The Alliance’s counter-proposal would allow rental car companies to rent cars with unrepaired recalls to consumers as long as the consumer is notified of the recall, and would only require cars be grounded until repaired if the automaker has issued a rare “do not drive” warning with the recall."  
Read more:
McCaskill Urges Automakers, Dealers to Support Rental Car Safety Bill with Release of Safety Analysis

Senator McCaskill's letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Analysis of the Auto Manufacturer's Crazy Notion


CA New Car Dealers Testify:
Rental Cars Should Be Safe to Drive (but not used cars)
Lobbying whiplash: A representative of the CA New Car Dealers Association testified recently before the CA Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee that rental car companies should have to repair all federal safety recalls, before renting cars to California consumers. In fact, facing widespread opposition, they
Representative of the CA New Car Dealers Association testifies before CA Assembly Committee regarding recalled rental cars -- (April 21, 2015)
amended their own bill in CA to require that. This raises a very interesting question: How come the National Automobile Dealers Association continues to actively oppose the federal rental car safety bill in Washington, DC? Nothing better to do with all that lobbying money? Or do dealers actually think that rental car customers deserve to get safe cars in California, but not in any other state?

The federal bill, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act, would require rental car companies to ground recalled cars until they are repaired. It is supported by Cally Houck -- Raechel and Jacquie's mother -- plus the rental car industry (except Rent-a-Wreck), and consumer / safety organizations, as well as the AAA. It is championed by Senators Schumer, Boxer, McCaskill, Casey, Gillibrand, Nelson, Blumenthal, and Feinstein, and U.S. Representatives Capps, Butterfield, Schakowsky, and Jones. It would have passed years ago, but it is being opposed behind the scenes by auto manufacturers and car dealers, for reasons they prefer not to divulge in public.
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014
Contact: Rosemary Shahan, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety – (530)-759-9440

CarMax Sales of Unsafe, Recalled Cars
Target of Protest
Family almost killed by recalled Dodge Ram and consumer groups picket CarMax, Call on CarMax to Stop Selling Unsafe, Recalled Cars

Protesters picketed the CarMax store in Roseville, CA today, calling on CarMax to stop selling unsafe, recalled cars to consumers. Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) also released recall notices for over a dozen recalled cars and trucks CarMax is currently offering for sale in Roseville (as of Monday Sept. 29), with defects such as sticky gas pedals, faulty steering, window switches that can catch on fire, and air bags that may not inflate when needed in a crash.

Among the protesters: Angela Davidson and her daughter, Jasmine. On May 19, the CarMax store in Irvine, CA sold the Davidson family a recalled 2010 Dodge Ram. Protesters held up posters showing a photo of their truck in flames, on Highway 15, just 11 days after they bought it. The Davidsons were joined by supporters from Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety and

"CarMax sold my family a ticking time-bomb," said Angela Davidson, who recently moved with her family from Victorville, CA to Las Vegas, NV. CarMax is the nation's largest retailer of used cars, is publicly traded on Wall Street, and last year took in over $10 billion.

Because CarMax advertises that all the cars it offers for sale must meet a rigorous "125+ - point inspection," and be "CarMax Quality Certified," the Davidsons believed the truck was safe. But a few days later, when they tried to synch their Bluetooth with Chrysler's U-Connect, the manufacturer's customer service staffer broke the news that Chrysler had issued a safety recall for the truck in 2013 because the drive shaft pinion was defective, making the drive shaft prone to separating from the rear axle, without warning. The Davidsons returned to the CarMax store, thinking that CarMax would take back the truck and get the safety recall done. But CarMax refused, and told them it was their problem. The Davidsons then took the truck to a Chrysler dealer for the safety recall repairs.

On May 30, while Clarence and Angela and their 12-year-old daughter Kira were riding in the truck on Highway 15 in the Mojave Desert, they heard a loud noise and the truck became virtually impossible to steer. The truck fell apart on the freeway and caught on fire. Clarence, Angela, and Kira barely escaped alive before the truck exploded into flames. Clarence yanked Kira out of the back of the cab just seconds before the explosion. The ensuing fire consumed 3 acres and shut down the highway for 4 hours.

"CarMax is playing recalled car roulette with its customers' lives," said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, a non-profit auto safety organization that is spearheading efforts to close the safety loophole that allows car dealers to sell recalled cars to used car buyers. "It would be a federal crime for CarMax to sell recalled cars like the Davidson's Dodge Ram to consumers if it were new," said Eddie Kurtz, Political Director of

In a similar incident that occurred last fall, David Clayton of Fresno, who bought a "certified" Dodge Ram with the same defect and safety recall from Lampe Dodge in Visalia, was nearly killed when his truck fell apart on the freeway. The drive shaft continued to spin, slamming into the gas tank The gas tank had to be replaced, but no fuel leaked out. The Davidson's truck was burned to a crisp and has not yet been inspected by an expert. So it's not clear whether the safety recall caused the incident. What is clear is that CarMax sold them an unsafe, recalled truck and 11 days later, they were nearly killed when it fell apart and caught on fire.

As recently as last Friday, CarMax was offering this 2009 Dodge Ram for sale in Roseville, despite the fact it has the exact same defect / safety recall as the Davidson's truck:
2009 Dodge Ram - rear axel defect

CARS also released ads and federal safety recall notices for other recalled vehicles CarMax is currently offering sale at their lot in Roseville, including the following: Note: for some of the recalls, there is no remedy available yet, so consumers who purchase those vehicles will be unable to get the recall repairs, possibly for weeks or months.

According to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, who joined in the protest, outlawing dealers like CarMax from selling recalled cars in California would create at least 1,000 good-paying jobs for automotive technicians in our state, performing safety recall repairs.

CarMax's excuse for not getting the FREE safety recall repairs done? They are not authorized by auto manufacturers to perform safety recall repairs. However, CarMax still has several options for handling safety recalls that would not place their customers' safety at risk. Among them: 1) Informing consumers who seek to trade in vehicles that their car has a pending safety recall, and they need to get it fixed before CarMax is willing to buy their car, or 2) taking the cars to properly authorized dealerships for free safety recall repairs, or 3) selling recalled vehicles to other dealers, auto auctions, or other wholesalers, instead of selling them at retail to consumers.

CARS recently spearheaded a petition to the Federal Trade Commission seeking action by the agency to curb CarMax's deceptive advertising and sales of unsafe, recalled cars to consumers.

CarMax played a major role in killing legislation in Sacramento this year that was supported by CARS,, SAFE KIDS CA, the California Nurses Association, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and many other pro-safety groups, that would have made it a crime for dealers to sell unsafe, recalled cars to California consumers. The bill, SB 686, authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), would have allowed dealers to sell recalled vehicles to other dealers, but not to retail customers.

More info: New York Times report: includes CarMax quote and photo of David Clayton in his Dodge Ram, which had the same safety recall pending as the Davidson's Dodge Ram from CarMax

General Motors supports passage
of Rental Car Safety Bill

In a major development that bodes well for passage of landmark auto safety legislation to protect the public from unsafe, recalled rental cars, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today announced that General Motors has changed its position, and is now supporting the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Rental Car Safety Act, S 921. The Act is named in memory of two sisters, ages 24 and 20, who were killed by a recalled rental car in 2004, near Santa Cruz, California. Eventually, the rental car company admitted that the safety defect under recall, which was issued about 30 days before the car caught on fire and crashed into an 18-wheeler, caused their deaths. Their mother, Cally Houck, has become a tireless advocate for protecting consumers from unsafe, recalled rental cars and used cars. Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety has been working closely with Cally Houck since learning of her daughters' deaths, and has been spearheading legislative efforts.

If enacted, S 921 will prohibit rental car companies from renting or selling recalled vehicles from the time when the rental car companies receive the manufacturer's safety recall notice until the safety recall repairs have been performed. GM sought a single amendment that simply clarifies that the new bill will not change the status quo, regarding the ability of rental car companies to seek reimbursement from auto manufacturers when recalled vehicles have to be grounded, and they lose business income, pending safety recall repairs. Rental car companies, including Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, and many smaller companies, as well as the American Rental Car Association, have been supporting enactment of the bill for several years, and working cooperatively with consumer and safety groups to persuade members of Congress to make it the law, but the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers and National Automobile Dealers Association have been blocking passage. GM is a member of the Alliance.

In a July 8 letter to Senator Schumer, GM writes that if the amendment is taken, "Such a revised bill will have the support of General Motors."

Senators Schumer, Boxer, and McCaskill, and other co-sponsors of the bill, as well as the rental car companies, Cally Houck, and consumer and safety groups who have been working actively for enactment of the bill, have agreed to that amendment.

When GM CEO Mary Barra testified before the US Senate Commerce Committee in April, Senator Boxer challenged her to support passage of S 921. At the time, Barra responded that she had not read the bill, but supported it "in concept." Not satisfied with that response, Sen. Boxer sent her a copy of the bill and again challenged GM to join in supporting the bill.


U.S. Senator Schumer's news release:

General Motors letter and attachment:


Safety Groups Seek Federal Trade
Commission Curbs on CarMax Over
Sales of Recalled Used Cars,
Deceptive Advertising

For immediate release: June 24, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC. Eleven major national consumer and safety non-profit organizations are urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and take enforcement action against CarMax, the nation's largest retailer of used cars, over its sales of recalled used cars. In a petition filed at the FTC on Monday, the groups charge that:

        CarMax advertises on its website, on television, in newspapers, and at its dealerships that each of the used vehicles it offers for sale are “CarMax Quality Certified” and has undergone a rigorous, “125+ point inspection.” However, CarMax fails to ensure that safety recalls are performed prior to selling used cars to consumers. As reported by the New York Times, “CarMax, the nation's largest seller of used cars, offers a “Certified Quality Inspection,” which does not include fixing [safety] recalls.”1

        “Car dealers shouldn't sell used cars that have a safety recall to consumers, period. Far too many times we have seen the tragic and often fatal consequences when deficient cars are allowed on the road, and it's time for the FTC to do everything it can to put a stop to it,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-New York).

        “CarMax is playing recalled used car roulette with its customers' lives,” said Rosemary Shahan, President of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), which spearheaded the petition. CARS is a national non-profit auto safety and consumer advocacy organization based in Sacramento, California.

        Federal law prohibits auto dealers from selling new cars that are under a safety recall, but there is no similar law to protect used car buyers. CarMax recently played a major role in killing first-in-the-nation legislation2 that was pending in California, to prohibit car dealers from selling recalled used cars to consumers unless the safety recall repairs have been performed. In a letter to California legislators, opposing the bill, CarMax wrote that “Manufacturers safety recalls should be taken seriously by manufacturers, dealers, and consumers.” But CarMax stopped short of saying that it ensures that safety recalls are performed on vehicles they offer for sale. Instead, CarMax said that it “carefully advises its customers to register their vehicles with its manufacturer as soon as they purchase the vehicle so they can be apprised of any future recalls.” (Emphasis added.)

CarMax complained in their letter that “Unfortunately, manufacturers do not permit independent auto dealers like CarMax to repair recalls. Further, the manufacturers do not even grant independent auto dealers like CarMax access to their internal databases in order to search a manufacturer's website... This system is broken.”

Tyler Kidd, Counsel for CarMax, testified on Tuesday, June 17, before a legislative committee in Sacramento, and repeated CarMax's claim that the safety recall system for handling used cars “is broken.” He called for federal legislation to force auto manufacturers to allow non-franchised car dealerships like CarMax to perform auto safety recall repairs.

Under federal law, auto manufacturers are responsible for performing safety recalls, and work closely with their franchised dealers to oversee the repair process, often including providing specialized training for their dealers' auto technicians. CarMax can have recalled cars repaired free of charge by authorized franchised car dealers. The fact that CarMax is not permitted to make the repairs itself is no excuse for selling consumers unsafe, recalled cars-- particularly when CarMax advertises them as “Quality Certified” and as having passed a rigorous inspection.

In addition, CarMax's claims it cannot find out about vehicles' safety recall status ring hollow. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is easy for car dealers to check the safety recall status of used cars. In addition, as CarMax concedes in its letter opposing SB 686, NHTSA issued a final rule that takes full effect this August 14, to require ALL auto manufacturers who produce more than 25,000 vehicles a year to provide free, publicly accessible, VIN-searchable safety recall data on their own Websites, updated at least every 7 days.


On May 19, the CarMax store in Irvine, CA, sold Clarence and Angela Davidson a used 2010 Dodge Ram. The couple had chosen to buy from CarMax because they have a 12-year-old daughter and 5-year-old grandson, and wanted a truck that was safe. But within days, when the Davidsons contacted Chrysler about a feature they wanted, the manufacturer's customer service representative informed them that their newly purchased truck was under a federal safety recall and had a serious safety defect.

Chrysler recalled the truck in 2013 because it was prone to literally falling apart on the road. Chrysler notified truck owners that “The rear axle pinion nut on your vehicle may loosen...[and] cause the rear axle to seize or cause the driveshaft to separate resulting in a loss of motive power. Either situation could cause a crash without warning.”

When they tried to return the truck, CarMax told them they owned it, and it was up to them to get the safety recall repaired. “I feel like CarMax is saying that our lives aren't worth anything, because we're not buying a new car,” said Angela Davidson.

The Davidsons took the truck to a Chrysler dealership to have the safety recall repairs performed. A few days later, on May 30, when the Davidsons were riding in the Mojave Desert with their 12-year-old daughter in the back seat of the cab, the truck fell apart and caught on fire. Clarence pulled their daughter out of the back seat just seconds before the entire truck exploded into flames. The fire burned several acres and authorities closed the highway for about 4 hours. The charred remains of the truck have not yet been inspected by an expert, so it's not clear at this time whether the safety recall caused the incident. However, it is clear CarMax sold the Davidsons an unsafe, recalled truck.

CARS warns used car buyers to always check the Vehicle Identification Number of any used car they are considering BEFORE they agree to anything. Consumers can find up-to-date safety recall information on most auto manufacturers' websites, or by calling the manufacturer's toll-free number or a local dealer, and providing the VIN.

Links to documents, video of hearing:


Consumer groups' petition to FTC:

Recall notice Chrysler issued regarding the Davidson's Dodge Ram:

Videotaped testimony of CarMax's Counsel before the California Assembly Business and Professions Committee:

Video of entire hearing on SB 686 (Jackson):

CarMax's letter of opposition to SB 686:
1 “Recalled Used Cars Roam Roads as Legislation Stalls,” New York Times, front page, May 9, 2014, by RachelAdams and Christopher Jensen. (Emphasis added.)
2 SB 686, authored by state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), sponsored by CARS. Due to opposition by CarMax, the California New Car Dealers Association and other independent auto dealers, SB 686 was defeated by a 3-4 vote, with 7 members refusing to vote (same as voting “no”).


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.

# # #

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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Even when car dealers flagrantly violate consumer protection laws, you may not be able to get justice. That's because almost 100% of car dealers stick "forced arbitration" clauses into their contracts. If they cheat you, and you try to take them to court, they can just laugh at you. That's because they can get your case kicked into arbitration -- a secret, rigged process that favors big, corrupt lawbreakers. The dealer often gets to choose the arbitration firm, and even the arbitrator who hears your case. Unlike judges, arbitrators are perfectly free to ignore the law.

Dealers claim that arbitration is quick. But Jon Perz in San Diego had to wait over 8 years in "arbitration limbo" before he finally got justice, after Mossy Toyota sold him an unsafe car. CARS produced a short video exposing what happened. More than 1.3 million people have watched our video on YouTube:
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