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Raechel and Jacqueline Houck (Credit: Houck Family).
Things got heated in a Senate committee Tuesday as lawmakers, safety advocates and auto industry representatives debated whether or not car rental companies should be allowed to rent vehicles that have been recalled.

In many ways, it seems like a no-brainer. If a car has been recalled for something that could be dangerous and result in death, shouldn't somebody fix it before handing it out to unsuspecting renters?

"The most common reaction we get from people is, 'You mean this isn't the law already?'" said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

It isn't. And it's actually more complicated to enact than one would think. Auto dealers and industry associations are pushing back, saying the current bill structure puts them at a disadvantage.

The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013 is named for two young sisters from California who died in a fiery crash in 2004. They were driving a rental car that had been recalled because a leak could cause a fire in the engine compartment. The rental car company had been notified about the defect a month before the fatal wreck.

The measure is supported by major rental car companies and several consumer groups.
Do you think rental car companies should stop renting recalled cars?
Yes 102 (91.9%)
No 9 (8.1%)

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) said Tuesday she's going to lobby all over the country in favor of this bill. "I think what we heard today was a little bit of nonsense, honestly," she said after hearing testimony from the auto industry group Auto Alliance and from the National Automobile Dealers Association.

When cars are recalled now, carmakers send out a recall notice to dealers explaining the problem, how many cars are affected, and what will be done to fix the problem. Sometimes the automakers don't have a fix in place, so they need time to figure it out. Many times they don't have the parts on hand, either, so that takes time to work out, too.

It can take months from when a recall notice is issued to when a car actually gets fixed. During that time, regular consumers continue driving their cars, unless the problem is severe enough to warrant a stop-driving notice.

The Rental Car Safety Act would force rental companies to park recalled cars as soon as they get a recall notice. That's what makes the bill unfair, said Jack Fitzgerald, owner of a dealership in Maryland which also operates Rent-A-Wreck.

In a recent interview, Fitzgerald said it's unfair that private owners can drive their vehicles while under recall while small businesses which rent out five or more cars would be forced to ground their fleets. Bigger rental companies, like Enterprise, Hertz and Alamo, have thousands of cars to choose from and won't be as hard-hit as the smaller companies, he argued.

"All this is going to do is create a great deal of hardship for small companies," he said. "It's a classic example of big business using government regulations to get an edge over others."

What are your thoughts? Do you think rental car companies should be forced to park cars that are under recall?

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      until I saw the check four $8522, I didnt believe that...my... brother woz like actualie bringing home money part-time at there computar.. there great aunt started doing this for under 15 months and as of now took care of the loans on there home and bought themselves a Nissan GT-R:. I went here.............. Fox85.com
      • 1 Year Ago
      The difference is that private owners can make an informed CHOICE whether to drive their car. How hard is that for these people to understand.
      John M
      • 1 Year Ago
      Simple solution: Require that the rental company disclose the recall to the renter at the time of rental and have equivalent or better cars available for someone who does not feel comfortable driving the recalled car. Some renters may not care depending on what the recall is for. Most will demand a different car. This would address the industry concern about the fairness of private owners being able to drive their recalled cars while renters cannot. BUT ... the driver gets to make the choice, not the rental company.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @John M
        Disclosure won't work, John. See my comment above. If it's "this car or no car," customers will sign or initial anything to get on the road. They may not even know what they're signing. It's not a "choice," just a trap to put you behind the wheel of an unsafe vehicle that the owner couldn't be bothered to get fixed, even though the manufacturer is paying for that fix.!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mr. Fitzgerald sounds like he is willing to put making a dollar ahead of the safety of his customers, perhaps a closer inspection of is business is in order......Mr. Fitzgerald all I have to say to you is 'you don't know Jack"................
      • 1 Year Ago
      Fitzgerald's argument is nonsense. The government can't regulate private owners or force them to comply with recalls, but it can - and should - regulate all businesses the put cars into the hands of consumers, to prevent them from renting or selling cars that have been recalled for safety defects but not repaired. As for disclosure instead of repair, it's a complete non-starter. The result of requiring only disclosure of unfixed recalls to car renters and buyers would be that somewhere in the huge pile of papers that customers must sign or initial before getting their car, there would be a little disclosure statement. Signing it wouldn't get the defect repaired, but on the contrary, would simply relieve the seller of liability for harm that might occur as a result of the defect. For the safety of car renters and buyers, whether new or used, all defects should be corrected before a vehicle reenters the stream of commerce. Period. Kudos to the Senators who have sponsored this urgently needed, long overdue bill.
      • 1 Year Ago
      The author has stated as fact Mr. Fitzgerald's misinterpretation of the Bill. Under the Bill, the trigger for the rental company's duty to fix or park a vehicle is when it receives the official recall notice to owners, the same notice consumer owners receive. This is also true for rental companies who happen to also be dealers. Any earlier notice a dealer receives is a heads up but doesn't start the duty to fix or park. No one at the 5/21 hearing, including the President of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), of which Mr. Fitzgerald is a member, voiced the same interpretation as Mr. Fitzgerald, but the author seems to have bought it without checking with anyone.