Sen. Boxer to car rental companies: Promise not to rent recalled cars

Boxer said she was pressing for changes to the rental industry because she has met with the parents of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, whom she said were 20 and 24 when their rental car crashed after catching on fire.

“As a mother and grandmother myself, I cannot in good conscience stand by while rental car companies continue to rent out unsafe recalled cars to their customers,” she said in her letter.

“I ask you to put safety ahead of profits, and to join with me to put an end to this unsafe practice,” she concluded.

The Clifton Park, N.Y.-based lobbying group for the car rental industry has defended its handling of recalled calls.

“There are 1.6 million rental vehicles, including car-sharing, in service in the United States,” the American Car Rental Association says in a post about the safety issue on its website.

“Our industry has a long history of providing safe vehicles for our customers,” the ACRA post continues. "Nowhere is this more apparent than in our timely and comprehensive procedures for dealing with recalls.”

The car rental association said it has already adopted “more conservative standards for recalls than what the law requires or what is recommended by the auto manufacturers."

“Proponents of regulating the rental car industry’s management of safety recalls cite a need to ‘close a rental car loophole,’ ” the ACRA says on its website. “In fact, there is no such loophole. Rental car companies are not treated differently under the law versus all other vehicle owners and fleet operators. What is different is the industry’s focus on safety, which has resulted in billions of rentals over tens of billion of miles since 2004 without a single recall-related incident.”

Despite its defense of the car rental industry, the ACRA says it is “ready to work with any government agency or legislative body to achieve improved recall completion rates for all vehicles on the roadways.”