Auto Safety Groups Call For Enterprise to Stop Renting Faulty Cars

Two auto safety groups and the mother of two Northern California sisters killed when their defective rental car collided with a truck petitioned the Federal Trade Commission Monday to stop Enterprise Rent-a-Car from giving customers recalled but unrepaired autos.

The petition came from the Center for Auto Safety, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety and Carol Houck. It cited a 2004 Monterey County accident that took the lives of Raechel Houck, 24, and Jacqueline Houck, 20. The sisters’ rented 2004 PT Cruiser collided head-on with a big rig after catching fire on a highway.

The vehicle had been recalled to check for power steering fluid leaks, which could cause a fire, but had not been repaired by Enterprise. The PT Cruiser had been rented four times since the recall was issued, according to the petition.

After five years of litigation, the petition said, Enterprise admitted to 100 percent liability, and the company was ordered to pay $15 million in damages.

But the mother of the women killed said that even with the damages, “Justice has not been served.”

Justice, she said, “is making sure this never happens to another family. That’s why the FTC must grant this petition.”

The petition pointed out that Enterprise has said that it upgraded its electronics systems and added 100 company-owned service facilities following the crash. Still the petitioners said, the company needs to go further to keep recalled but unrepaired cars off the road.

“Only strong FTC enforcement action will stop Enterprise from renting unsafe vehicles to consumers and send a message to all rental car companies to park recalled cars until fixed,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Auto Safety.

Enterprise spokeswoman Laura Bryant told Bloomberg News in a statement that the company is working to identify defects more quickly, and noted that auto manufacturers do not not ask consumers to immediately stop driving cars in most recalls.

“Given all we have learned, today we would not rent the vehicle the Houck sisters were driving until it was repaired,” she said. “We share the Houcks’ goal of preventing anything like this from happening again.”

Enterprise Rent-a-Car is part of Enterprise Holdings, which also owns the National and Alamo car-rental brands and is the nation’s largest auto rental concern.

Print Print  

Leave a comment