Push to outlaw rental recalls

rental recall (1)

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - A call Friday night for a nationwide law to protect you when renting a car.  Senator Barbara Boxer is urging the auto industry to back a bill that would make it illegal to rent a car that has a recall.

In 2004 two sisters were killed when the recalled rental car they were in crashed. The rental car industry says it's changed, but has it? 

Once you get your bag and rental car your vacation can begin, safety not exactly on the minds of travelers. 

"I didn't think anything about the car except how big it was going to be I just wanted a car that was going to run," said car renter John Garrard.

So far this year almost 14 million cars have been recalled.  Senator Barbara Boxer wants to make sure none of them will be rented to an unsuspecting customer. 

"I wouldn't want to be driving a car that's been recalled, you know all of the stuff going on with GM and all of that stuff," said car renter Mark Hanley.

"I put my family in there, I would hope that it would be safe," said car renter Steve Brace.  

The proposed law, known as The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act,  would force car rental companies to pull the car out of service as soon as a recall is identified. 

"I think the company that is leasing cars out to people they should have a responsibility to not give those cars out," said Garrard.

But car rental companies tell us they already do, if a car has a recall on it they will take it out of service.

"We take it seriously we take it down to the dealerships, what ever dealership is going to do the recall and have the service done, we don't want to put anybody at risk," said Desert Rent-a-car owner Tim McCoy.

If a customer already has car when the recall comes in - Avis tells us it's company policy to call the driver right away and have them trade it in. 

Here is the statement that John R. Barrows Vice President, Communications Avis Budget Group, Inc. sent us: 

"When we receive the formal recall notification from the manufacturer, we immediately identify all affected vehicles within our computer reservation system and place them on "hard hold," which effectively grounds the vehicles, preventing them from being rented, where they remain until they are repaired according to the manufacturer's instructions. Customers who have cars out on rent at the time we receive the recall notification are contacted and encouraged to bring the vehicle to a nearby Avis or Budget rental location where they can exchange it."

In 2012 all major car rental companies, Hertz, Enterprise, Avis Budget, Dollar Thirfty, and National, pledged to make this standard procedure.   

"I think it would be terrible to rent a car that has a safety issue," said McCoy.

We checked ourselves.  At the Palm Springs Airport Rental lot we found one Chevy Malibu, but it's a not a 2014 that was recalled. 

"It's free enterprise so if rental companies have recalled cars on their lot, I think customers like myself will go to other agencies I don't think there needs to be a law for it.," said Hanley.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufactures agrees, testifying before Congress last year that grounding all cars regardless of how dangerous the recall is, would have negative consequences - including putting family's repairs behind the rental company's, while the added cost is passed on to customers. 

The Alliance says the want to ensure the public's safety but this bill is not the way.

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