5 major rental car companies agree on recall plan

September 27, 2012 - 10:34 AM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Five of the biggest names in car rentals nationwide have agreed to stop leasing vehicles under safety recalls, a move that is expected to bolster pending legislation, according to two U.S. senators.

Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Barbara Boxer of California told The Associated Press that the agreement involving Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, Dollar Thrifty and National will pave the way for legislation covering the industry. The bill is expected to be voted on during the upcoming lame duck session on Congress.

"This historic agreement will be a major improvement in auto safety, particularly since rental car companies are the largest purchases of new vehicles in the nation," a coalition of consumer groups and relatives said in a statement.

Hertz officials said the company adopted the provisions in January.

"We are pleased the rest of the rental car industry is now fully supportive," said Richard D. Broome, senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications at Hertz.

An announcement was scheduled to be made Thursday in Washington with relatives of two women from California who died in a car fire in a vehicle that the senators say was under a safety recall.

Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were killed in 2004 when their rental car caught fire. The sisters were traveling in a car that was under recall for a power steering hose defect but hadn't been repaired, the senators said. They died in a head-on crash.

The companies involved in the agreement represent more than 90 percent of the rental car industry. National and Enterprise are operated by the same company.

The companies have worked with the senators on the legislation and support the effort, according to a letter signed by executives from each company.

No law now prohibits the leasing of cars under safety recalls, according to AAA, the national auto club and lobbyist.

"AAA views this legislation as a common-sense solution that would help keep unsafe vehicles off the road," AAA President Robert L. Darbelnet said.