Renting a vehicle for vacation, a business trip, or even renting a sports or luxury car for a special date night or reunion is usually a pleasant experience. People rely on companies to ensure a rental vehicle’s safety. For example, if a vehicle is recalled for safety reasons, renters have a reasonable expectation that it won’t be rented until it is repaired.

But that’s not always the case. Unfortunately, when a rental company rents vehicles with known safety issues, the consequences can be deadly. Sadly, sisters Jacqueline and Raechel Houck, of California, were killed when their rental car caught fire, and they lost control of the vehicle. The PT Cruiser they had rented had been recalled for defective power steering hoses that posed a fire risk, but had not yet been fixed.

The family won a multi-million dollar jury verdict against Enterprise. The parents of the victims have teamed up with the Center for Automotive Safety and Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety to help bring the issue into the public spotlight. They have also petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to prevent the rental of recalled vehicles that have not been fixed.

Rental Recall and Repair Report

rental vehicle's safety

A 2011 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study reported on the time between recall and repair at three nationally recognized rental vehicle businesses. Enterprise repaired only 65 percent of recalled vehicles within 90 days. Avis/Budget repaired only 53 percent of recalled vehicles within 90 days. Hertz repaired only 34 percent of recalled vehicles within 90 days. Since the Houcks’ story became public, Hertz has stopped renting vehicles under recall notice.

Protect yourself, your passengers, and everyone on the road. If you are unsure of your rental vehicle’s safety or whether a vehicle you are renting has been issued a recall, ask the rental agent to check if it has any outstanding recalls.