Believe it or not, it isn’t illegal for a car rental company to rent or sell you a car that’s been recalled and has yet to be fixed.  In fact, this practice isn’t even uncommon among rental car companies.  Though Hertz and Enterprise, spoke out recently to say that their own company policies prevent them from renting recalled cars until they are repaired, not all rental companies have taken these kinds of steps on their own to protect consumers.  This week, however, four major rental companies finally reached an agreement and decided to support U.S. Senators Boxer (D-C.A.) and Shumer (D-N.Y) who are seeking to make it illegal to rent unrepaired recalled vehicles.

Avis Budget Group, Inc., Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc., Hertz Corp., and Enterprise Holdings Inc. make up over 90% of the rental car industry and have promised to keep recalled vehicles out of their rental rotations until the cars are repaired.  They also lent their support to a bill that would require rental car companies to stop renting a recalled car 24 or 48 hours after they receive notice from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).  Whether rental companies have a 24 or 48 hour grace period depends on how many of the recalled vehicles they have in their rotation.  If for example, a company with over 5,000 of the recalled vehicles in their fleet, the proposed bill does not require the company to stop renting the car for two days after the recall.

Senators Boxer and Shumer began pushing the bill after two sisters were killed in California while driving a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser.  The car had been recalled because of the possibility of a power steering fluid leak that Chrysler feared could cause an engine fire or render drivers unable to steer.  Though the recall was issued a month before the sisters rented the car from Enterprise Holdings Inc., it was never repaired.  As a result, a California court ordered Enterprise to pay $15 million to the sisters’ parents in compensation for the loss of their children.

After the deaths of the two sisters, but before agreement between the rental companies and legislators was reached, an Enterprise spokesperson commented that the company didn’t believe that it was necessary for the government to act as an enforcement agency on this issue because Enterprise already had a policy in place against renting out unrepaired recalled vehicles.  Obviously, however, that policy was not being adhered to and the statement had to come as an insult to the girls’ parents.  In this situation it seems like a little government enforcement isn’t a bad thing.  In fact, it seems to be a necessity for companies like Enterprise.  If you’re interested in seeing this bill become law, contact your state senators and representatives to let them know.

This post was contributed by Brittany Larson on behalf of Porsche of Warwick.