Butterfield Introduces Bill to Take Recalled Rental Cars Off the Road

May 1, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) introduced H.R. 2198, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2015 that would prohibit rental car companies from renting or selling vehicles subject to a recall.  Butterfield joined Reps. Lois Capps (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in introducing this bipartisan bill.

Current law prohibits car dealerships from selling new vehicles under recall to consumers, but those regulations do not extend to rental car companies.  The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act will keep unsafe rental cars off American roadways by prohibiting them from being rented until the problem that triggered the recall has been addressed.

U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced identical legislation in the Senate. S.1173.

“I am pleased to be joined by my House and Senate colleagues in introduction of this important bill,” Butterfield said.  “I believe a federal framework that provides clear rules of the road for the rental car industry will protect the millions of Americans that patron car rental companies annually.  Individuals that rent vehicles deserve the certainty in knowing that the vehicle they are driving is safe and not subject to a recall.  My bill will provide that certainty and better safeguard our nation’s roadways.”

The legislation is backed by Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), and AAA, as well as Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; Center for Auto Safety; Consumers Union; Consumer Federation of America; Consumer Action; National Association of Consumer Advocates and Trauma Foundation; and, Truck Renting and Leasing Association. 

Specifically, the bill:

  • Prohibits Rental or Sale of Vehicles Subject to a Safety Recall. Vehicles may not be rented or sold until the vehicles are fixed, consistent with existing law for new car dealers, who have been prohibited from selling or leasing recalled vehicles for decades. One exception is allowed for rental companies to sell a damaged vehicle subject to recall for parts or scrap with a junk title.
  • Requires Rental Companies to Ground Vehicles under a Safety Recall. Vehicles under a safety recall will be grounded as soon as possible but no later than 24 hours after the rental company gets the safety recall notice. Rental companies will have up to 48 hours for recalls that include more than 5,000 vehicles in their fleet.
  • Permits Rental Companies to Rely on Temporary Measures Identified by Manufacturers. If a manufacturer’s recall notice specifies steps that can be taken to eliminate the safety risk until parts are available, a rental company may continue to rent the vehicle if those measures are put in place but must ground and repair the vehicle once parts become available.
  • Maintains Status Quo Between Rental Companies and Auto Manufacturers. The bill ensures that auto manufacturers are not subject to new or increased liability as a result of the new requirements the bill imposes on rental companies.
  • And, ensures NHTSA Has Tools Necessary to Protect Consumers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will have authority to investigate and police rental companies' recall safety practices.