Photo: Flickr / Xelcise
A Senate chairman upped her pressure Tuesday on rental car companies to repair autos that are under manufacturers’ recall before renting or selling them — and she urged customers to avoid the companies until they make that commitment.Hertz already has agreed to the pledge issued earlier this year by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. But Boxer said other major companies such as Enterprise, Avis and Dollar Thrifty resisted.
“Our families deserve a permanent commitment to safety,” said Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees highway policy. “Until they sign the pledge, tell your families not to go to those companies.”
Boxer is asking the companies to pledge “a permanent commitment to not rent out or sell any vehicles under safety recall until the defect has been remedied.”
Boxer was joined in her call at a Capitol news conference by Cally Houck, whose daughters Raechel and Jacqueline died in 2004 when they lost control of a PT Cruiser rented from Enterprise that was under recall and crashed into a semi-tractor trailer.
“My daughters died instantly in a fireball,” Houck says. “We’re going to keep fighting.”
Enterprise, which also operates as National and Alamo, controls more than half the rental car market in the country, with $14 billion in revenue in 2011, according to statistics Boxer compiled from Auto Rental News and Forbes.
The company’s chief executive, Andrew Taylor, told Boxer in a letter June 5 that the company has a policy not to rent or sell at retail “any vehicles subject to a recall notice until the recall has been remedied.”
In selling damaged vehicles at wholesale, Taylor says, Enterprise alerts dealers or auctions when a recall hasn’t been remedied.
“No one need have any concern about the safety of the vehicles we rent,” Taylor wrote in a May 22 letter.
Dollar Thrifty has never had a serious injury arise from failing to address a safety recall, according to a June 5 letter from CEO Scott Thompson.
Dollar Thrifty, which Boxer says has 7 per cent of the market for $1.5 billion, told her it repairs all vehicles before selling them.
Thompson told USA TODAY in a statement that “Dollar Thrifty has an excellent record in dealing with safety issues and has extensive processes and procedures in place to ensure our customers’ safety.”