In 2004, Raechel and Jackie Houck were killed when they were in a fiery accident in the 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser they had rented from Enterprise. The girls' mother, Cally Houck, sued Enterprise when it was discovered that their Chrysler was the subject of a recall to repair a power steering hose leak over a potential fire issue, yet the car hadn't been reparied before it was rented. The five-year trial concluded in 2010, with Enterprise admitting negligence, at which point it was ordered by a jury to pay $15 million in damages.

That hasn't stopped Cally Houck from campaigning. There is no law that requires rental car companies to repair recalled cars before they are rented or sold; companies have their own policies about how recalls are handled, but as one Enterprise manager testified during the Houck trial, getting cars repaired is balanced with getting cars rented. A report in the The Detroit News offered conflicting data about how quickly cars are repaired, but the real issue is that even if, as Enterprise says, "90 percent of recalled vehicles have completed or required inspections within 30 days," those cars might still be in the rental pool during those thirty days.

Senators Barbara Boxer (D) and Charles Schumer (D) are working to change that, having introduced rental car legislation last July called the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act, but nothing has come of it yet. Rental car companies were asked to sign a pledge not to rent or sell vehicles that hadn't been repaired, but only Hertz signed; neither Enterprise (which owns Enterprise, National and Alamo) nor Dollar/Thrifty would sign, with Enterprise writing its own letter saying that it wouldn't do so and Dollar/Thrifty saying it would fix cars "as soon as practically possible." Boxer has made it clear that she will continue pushing for federal legislation.


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  • 47 Comments
      napajack
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Senators Barbara Boxer (D) and Charles Schumer (D) are working to change that, having introduced rental car legislation last July called the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act, but nothing has come of it yet." Well of course not..........Congress is too busy investigating Major Leage Baseball steroid use and other "important" stuff.
        Michael
        • 2 Years Ago
        @napajack
        It will be killed by Congressmen on the take from the rental companies.
      Barb Pearl Morgan
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am not at all surprised that car rental places don't want to be concerned with recalled vehicles. Some of them don't even keep track of the road worthiness of their vehicles at all. I once rented a car that was absolutely dangerous to drive - after a few miles the brakes started squealing and grinding. And this happened as I was driving through a not so good area in Detroit - definitely not a place I wanted a car to break down. Back it went to the rental place for a replacement. I would hope that the rental places would do safety checks/maintenance on their cars but you can't count on it.
      Soyntgo4it
      • 2 Years Ago
      Usually if you have the car serviced they look up to see if the vehicle has open recalls. I know from renting that they never service their vehicle properly anyway. I either get a vehicle that hasn't gotten and oil change in a long time or tires almost bald and etc.. The car goes out then comes back in then goes right back out. The only time they have the car serviced if there is a real issue with them. Seen it a lot at my dealer they come in for a major problem then we do our normal check over of the vehicle and call them and tell them its needs servicing. Sometimes they say okay do the service or sometime they say no we need to get this car back into service as quick as possible. Just simple to give a bunch of vehicles that are not in service to the dealer have them do the recall and such. When the other vehicles that are due for the service take those out and send them to be repaired. So the next time you buy a used car usually they are old rental fleets. They aren't always bad but just gotta do your research on them.
      Donald Haas
      • 2 Years Ago
      Barbara Boxer (D) and Charles Schumer (D)...should have guessed. Biggest job killers in government. If I am so low in the car market to buy a rented car...I would not surprised if it burst into flames the second i drove it off the lot. Inspect the car...get the recall paperwork before you buy or rent. Jeez...does government have to do everything for you? Do you really think these companies want to kill their customers?
        ELZA
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Donald Haas
        donald what a jerk off statement........................................and do you really think the companies care?
        RJC
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Donald Haas
        A business KNOWINGLY selling or renting you a defective product that could injure or kill you? Yes, we need oversight for that. That's what government is for. They are the police. They are there to prevent this crime.
        lasertekk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Donald Haas
        @ Donald They won't agree to disclosure regarding the mechanical issues, so yes, they just increased the odds you could die by using one of their recalled and defective products. Is that plain enough for you to understand?
        mycommentemail
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Donald Haas
        Right on brother Donald! If you are so very very low that you buy a used car, well then you won't be missed when you burst into flames! And I personally never ever rent a car. I much prefer to just drive my own off the yacht wherever I go. But way back when I actually DID have to rent a car, I made sure to do all my research. So when I got to the counter at the airport... Remember those days? God that sucked. I don't even know why anybody wouldn't just take their own private helicopter... But I digress. When I got to the counter at the airport and they told me what kind of car I was getting, I would then immediately demand all the repair paperwork on the car (which they always had ready). I would then read it all and cross reference it with my carry along reference bible of every recall for every car ever made. Only then would I accept the rental agreement. Basic common sense. And if I didn't do this, and the rental company had knowingly rented a car to me that they had known had been recalled for a safety related issue, well the fault obviously lies with me. And if I were low, I should expect to burn. Besides, you are dead to rights when you say that a company would never want to endanger their customers. Which is why there is no history ever of any company ever putting profits above their customer's health (excuse me a moment while I light up... my throat is killing me). Anyway, fight the good fight brother!
        Jessica
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Donald Haas
        Corporations should be able to pollute as much as they want! Not letting them do so KILLS JOBS! /sarcasm
        The Wasp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Donald Haas
        Good luck getting recall paperwork/service records on a rental car before you rent -- they can't even tell you what car they're going to give you until you arrive on the lot...
        ehisforadam
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Donald Haas
        They don't really care what happens to their customers, they just care about their money and stock prices.
      Ken
      • 2 Years Ago
      Let metell you this. Rental Car companies run on thin profits and if they have to send back every car on recall on the same day I can gauruntee you hundreds of people will be out of work thanks to the regulation of those commie bastards in Washington...... Take the cars out of the pool take the workers from the workforce.
        David Lynn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ken
        What a moronic thing to say ken...Bet your tune would be very different if you or a loved one was killed in a rental that had a recall!!
        ehisforadam
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ken
        Yeah! Let them drive potentially unsafe (as deemed by those same Commie bastards), poorly maintained cars! While we're at it let's just stop requiring safety recalls at all or just ditch the whole Communist NHTSA! It will create more jobs, like for all the under takers and care givers for the people hurt in car accidents.
        birdman273
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ken
        So, Ken, you are going to let them continue to rent potentially dangerous cars, AFTER a recall has been issued, because it's not in their best FINANCIAL interests ?? SERIOUSLY ?? Let me guess which rental car companies YOU won't be going to, all of those that won't promise to get them fixed before renting them out. I can't believe you are as, well, I have to say it, stupid, as your post makes you sound. Oh, one more thing, after reading your post, I bet you can get one person EMPLOYED if you decided to use spell check !
      Ken
      • 2 Years Ago
      What a joke! Rental Car Act, really?? Democrats want to regulate the air we breathe and the water we drink, literally! **** these Dems and big gov Repub's! VOTE THEM ALL OUT!
        Rob
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ken
        I'm a Republican, and these bastards need to be held in check. If it needs fixed, fix the f'n thing and be done with it. How does thin profits compare to a 15 million dollar law suit every year or so then, Ken?
        birdman273
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ken
        I am going to go out on a limb here and say that Ken owns a car rental business !
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 2 Years Ago
      They say laws are for those that don't know any better and the same can be said about legislation. Maybe all the companies complaining about the government meddling in their business will keep this situation in mind the next time they get the opportunity to do the right thing.
        RJC
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants
        doing the right thing. How morally and socially correct for a modern society. After all, we aren't savages, are we?
      RomPirate
      • 2 Years Ago
      Its sad to see that laws have to be made to force rental companies to do these things.
      Making11s
      • 2 Years Ago
      When there were no guidelines, the rental car companies couldn't be trusted to keep their fleets safe. Now, there are voluntary guidelines that most refuse to pledge to enforce, leaving consumers just as unsafe. The industry had chances to do right by consumers and with motorists who share the road with cars from their fleets and didn't. Now they should be subject to government regulation.
      Car Guy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here's an idea -- spend two minutes on your smartphone and check for yourself if the car has any recalls. While you are at it, take some pictures of the car especially if you notice some pre-existing damage. I won't pass judgement unless I actually read what the "pledge" was asking them to do. The devil is always in the details.
        Making11s
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Car Guy
        Even if you NEVER rent a car in your life, these recalled vehicles that have not been repaired will be on the road with you, putting your safety at risk.
        Jessica
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Car Guy
        This specific pledge aside, it should be the rental car company's job to make sure their vehicles are safe to drive. I can't reliably test an airplane's safety every time I fly. I have neither the expertise nor the access. That's why we have a system in place where the airlines are responsible for inspecting the planes. The same should go for rental cars.
        nomadsto
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Car Guy
        What dumb idea. Ok so I check for a recall (thats no pian in the ass), what if they (the peron at the counter) don't know if it's been repaird or lie about it, what then?
      graphikzking
      • 2 Years Ago
      Not usually a Barbara Boxer fan - but this case I think she is on the right track. How can a company knowingly rent out a car that is recalled for a safety feature? However most people don't get their recalls done within 30 days either. I would say that 100% should be done within 30 days but I honestly don't know the logistics as far as if someone rented the car out, has it out for 2 weeks - are they going to call the people and tell them to bring it back in and get a different one?
      FoxJ30
      • 2 Years Ago
      I can see how this could be troubling for rental car companies, given that they often purchase only a couple of different models in each size/price class. If half if their midsize fleet gets shut down for two weeks, that could be devastating for the company, through no fault of their own. That said, there should at least be a disclosure stating that the car has not yet been repaired, and that the customer has the option to pick another car if one's available.
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