Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rental Cars, Are They Safe?

Raechel and Jacqueline
Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were two sisters who were inseparable.  Unfortunately, not only did they enjoy life together, but they also died together, in my opinion, needlessly.
The Rented PT Cruiser

In October of 2004, the sisters rented a PT Cruiser from Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Capitola, California.  While traveling in the rented vehicle, a defective power steering unit began to leak, resulting in a wind fanned fire in the engine compartment.  With the sudden loss of power steering and from the obscured vision of the smoke, Raechel lost control of the vehicle and slammed head-on into a semi-tractor trailer, costing both women their lives.  As tragic as this was, the two sisters did not have to die, because as you will see, power steering units in the PT Cruiser were on a federal nationwide safety recall that year and the rental car agency was notified of such recall but put the vehicle on the road anyway. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), letters from major rental car companies like Hertz and Enterprise have admitted to putting cars that were under manufacturer's recall on the road even though they were aware the vehicles were not safe but admit to no wrong doing based on a loophole in the law.  According to a U.S. Senate Congressional Committee spearheaded by Senator Barbara Boxer, D-CA, the American Car Rental Association whose members consist of 105 rental car companies have confirmed that only approximately 80 to 90 percent of the vehicles on recall get fixed within 30-60 days after receiving the notice.  However, as you will see in the video below, NHTSA claims those figures are not accurate and that they are actually much worse.  It should be noted that in the Houck case, the two women were killed approximately 30 days after Enterprise received the recall notice from the manufacturer. 

In conclusion, I believe that we as consumers should expect that the vehicle we are renting is in safe working order.   I also submit that if the vehicle we are renting is under recall, that at the very least we should be told that so we can make our own decision to rent that particular vehicle or not.  That is why I support AB 753 sponsored by Assemblymember Bill Monning representing the 27th Assembly District which includes portions of Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara Counties. 


  1. That is such a tragic event. I remember the time when I saw the news on TV. I was shocked and scared because I rent cars a lot. I think we should also be responsible enough to check the car we’re going to rent and see if the company is credible. I have been renting a car from the same company for years now, and I haven’t had any problems with them. It’s just sad that this had to happen to them.

    Rob Brummitt

  2. Hiring a car or rental car becomes very vast from last many years and also some popular car rental companies which provides rental car insurance or some other services.