Buyer Beware Now Includes Renting A Car

March 29, 2011

Did you know that it’s not illegal in most states for rental car companies to continue to rent vehicles that have not had manufacturer recall issues resolved? This means it’s up to consumer to ask if the vehicle being rented is under a recall notice and, if so, if the recall work has been completed. Based on that information you can decide if you want to rent a different vehicle.

Raechel and Jacqueline Jouck

A bill is before the California Assembly that would prohibit rental car companies from renting out vehicles with unresolved recall issues. The bill was introduced after the deaths of two sisters. Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were killed when the Chrysler PT Cruiser they were riding in crashed. The vehicle had been rented from Enterprise. It had an outstanding recall notice that covered over 400,000 PT Cruisers and involved a potential loss of steering control.

Enterprise received notice about a month before the fatal crash that the PT Cruiser was being recalled. Instead of fixing the issue, Enterprise continued to rent the vehicle. It was finally rented to the Houck sisters so they could drive from Santa Cruz to Ojai to see their parents.

Neither Chrysler nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommended that consumers stop driving the PT Cruisers. The Houck sisters were not told of the recall notice. The family of the sisters were awarded $15 million dollars after the rental company admitted liability.

Buyer beware

Unless state or federal laws change, it’s up to consumer to make sure the vehicle they’re renting does not have unresolved recall issues. Simply ask the rental company to bring up recall notices—along with any repair records—on their computer system.

Based on that information you can make an informed decision as to which vehicle you want to rent. Stay vigilant; stay safe.

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