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Traveling is expensive, especially if you opt to fly. But it’s not just airfare that hurts; parking your car while on vacation for a week can cost a small fortune. Car-sharing services could be the answer to this problem.
The “redneck” comedian Jeff Foxworthy used to joke about how safe of a driver his grandmother was, but as soon as she got behind the wheel of a rental car, all bets were off. It’s a commonly held belief that motorists abuse borrowed vehicles, taking out pent-up aggression on hired Impalas from Hertz. When it comes to buying a used car are second-hand rentals a smart choice, or something to be avoided like a holiday in North Korea?
This year kicked off a campaign by rental car companies to prohibit the rental of recalled vehicles, hoping to create a standard amongst all the car rental firms. All the major car rental companies have now agreed to back Senate legislation to pull vehicles from the road if they’re recalled for safety defects.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car announced its formal support for federal legislation to oversee the way car rental companies manage the safety recall process for vehicles in their fleets, joining Hertz in the fight.
Hertz recently turned to the government hoping for help enforcing priority recall repairsfor fleet vehicles over privately owned cars. The news comes at a critical time for Enterprise, since much of this debate circles around the fact that they accepted responsibility for the deaths of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were driving a rented vehicle from Enterprise that had been recalled, but not repaired.
“The vehicle was under recall at the time. The tragedy of the Houck sisters’ deaths can never be undone, and all of us at Enterprise are profoundly sorry,” Enterprise said in an email.
The accident occurred in 2004, but ongoing discussion around this issue began two years ago and it appears that a movement will ensure timely repairs on recalled vehicles. Enterprise originally believed that the additional oversight was not necessary, but have since changed their stance.
“But even with all of these safeguards, a number of individuals and organizations have asked for additional oversight in the form of federal legislation. In the past, we believed that this step was unnecessary, but a growing number of people, including our customers and business partners, clearly want more assurance on this critical issue. We hear them – and what we’ve heard has caused us to rethink our stance.”
In the past, if you haven’t been picky about the rental car you’re driving, perhaps you should be. You may be surprised to learn that your rental has been recalled – so why is it still on the road?
This information comes to use via ABC News, which reports these findings after a recent lawsuit against Enterprise. The case in question involved the death of two California women who were killed after their rental Chrysler PT Cruiser caught fire and struck an oncoming semi. Unexpectedly, Enterprise came out and admitted that the company routinely rents out vehicles that are under recall and haven’t been repaired. The PT Cruiser was recalled in September of 2004, because there was a chance that the power steering unit could leak, causing an engine fire.
Even though they received the recall notice a month before, Enterprise rented the vehicle to Raechel Houck, 24, and her sister, Jacquie, 20, who were on their way to visit their parents. In this case, a jury awarded the Houcks a $15 million settlement.
In further testimony, it was revealed that Enterprise often rents out vehicles under recall, and that the company has no standing policy against doing so. ABC News also indicates that other major companies like Hertz and Avis also carry out the same practice.
“When demand called, we rented out recalled vehicles, it happened, I won’t lie,” said Mark Matias, a former Enterprise area manager in San Francisco. “If all you have are recalled vehicles on the lot, you rent them out. It was a given. The whole company did it. Enterprise’s corporate offices look the other way regarding this fact.”
Other Enterprise executives testified that there was no company-wide policy requiring cars under recall to be held back from rental.
Watch the ABC News video report after the jump.