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Rental car loophole enables companies to rent and sell recalled vehicles

May 10, 2013 1:40 am

Skift Take

It’s amazing that unscrupulous operators can get away with renting or selling recalled vehicles.

— Dennis Schaal

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Rental companies would be barred from leasing or selling vehicles to consumers that are under a manufacturer’s recall until the defect is fixed under a bill introduced Thursday by a bipartisan group of senators.

Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski joined Democrats Chuck Schumer of New York, Barbara Boxer of California and Claire McCaskill of Missouri in supporting the measure aimed at keeping unsafe rental vehicles off the road. A hearing on the proposal is expected later this month.

The senators say that while current law prohibits car dealerships from selling recalled vehicles to consumers, no law bans rental car companies from selling or renting them to unsuspecting consumers. They want to close that loophole.

The bill requires that vehicles under a safety recall be withheld from consumers within 24 hours after the rental company gets the safety recall notice.

“Rental car companies are rolling the dice with passengers’ lives each and every time they rent a car that’s under a recall,” said Schumer. “This practice has already proved tragic. Most rental companies have now changed their policies, but we need a law to ensure that recalled cars are never again driven off of rental lots.”

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. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., plans to introduce a similar bill in the House.

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