Car-rental companies Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Avis Budget Group Inc. said today that they have pledged not to rent or sell recalled vehicles that have not been repaired.
The actions are in response to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer's letter this month to the CEOs of three leading U.S. car-rental companies -- Enterprise, Avis, and Dollar Thrifty -- asking them to adopt such a policy.
In her May 7 letter, Boxer (D-Calif.) noted that another major car-rental company, Hertz Global Holdings Inc., already had done so.
Enterprise CEO Andrew Taylor, in a letter, assured Boxer that the company had a policy that forbids the rental or sale of recalled vehicles until the problem is "remedied."
Taylor noted that, in rare circumstances, Enterprise has used interim measures recommended by automakers to temporarily fix a vehicle until a permanent solution is available. He cited Toyota's suggestion that companies remove floor mats after the mats were blamed for interfering with accelerator pedals, leading to recalls in 2010.
Taylor said Enterprise no longer will use interim measures, in the hope that Boxer and other members of Congress can adopt formal legislation that addresses the issue.
Boxer's letter -- and the proposed Safe Rental Car Act -- was prompted by the deaths of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck in a 2004 car accident in California. The Houck sisters were killed when the unrepaired recalled vehicle they rented from Enterprise burst into flames and crashed into a semi-truck, according to reports.
Taylor mentions the accident in his letter, claiming that the company and the car-rental industry have been working with manufacturers to adopt formal procedures for dealing with recalls.
Enterprise Holdings is the parent of Enterprise, Alamo and National car-rental companies.
Avis Budget Group said in a statement that it had established a policy to not rent or sell cars under recall, and that it had responded to Boxer's letter. But Avis did not indicate whether it uses interim measures to temporarily fix vehicles, nor did it release its response to Boxer. Company representatives did not respond to requests for further comment.
Boxer responded to Avis in a letter this afternoon asking the company to clarify its policy for rentals and sales, claiming that the company's response was unclear. She cited a letter Avis sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in which the company said it allows some vehicles with minor recalls to be rented.
Avis has not released a response to Boxer's second letter. Avis Budget Group is the parent of Avis and Budget.
Boxer has said she will make an announcement at the end of the month detailing which companies have agreed to her pledge. The only company yet to respond to Boxer, Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc., did not respond to requests for comment.
Boxer and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have introduced Safe Rental Car Act in the Senate. The proposed legislation would prohibit car-rental companies from renting vehicles under safety recall that have not been repaired.