Playing “Rental Car Roulette”

Car dealers can’t sell you a vehicle that has been recalled unless it has been fixed. Unfortunately, The Motor Vehicle Safety Act does not apply to rental car companies: they can rent or even sell you a dangerous recalled vehicle without even informing you.

In an attempt to close this loophole, California Senator Barbara Boxer (D) introduced Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act to stop rental car companies from renting or selling you a recalled vehicle unless it was repaired, but so far the bill has not progressed in a gridlocked Congress.

The bill is named after two sisters from California who unknowingly rented a recalled PT Cruiser from Enterprise. The vehicle burst into flames, causing a collision with a large semi-truck — and killing both girls. The vehicle had been recalled because of that fire hazard, but Enterprise had not pulled the cars from their rental fleet. Enterprise admitted negligence several years later, after the Houck family was forced to file a lawsuit.

In the absence of legislation, the country’s four biggest rental car companies have been asked by Senator Barbara Boxer of California to pledge that they will not rent out any recalled vehicle until it is fully repaired. So far, Hertz is the only company out of the four to agree to this basic safety measure; Avis, Enterprise and Dollar/Thrifty are the holdouts.

Tell Enterprise to stop their practice of renting dangerous and unsafe vehicles. And if you need to rent a car anytime soon, I would suggest Hertz.