Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:03

New California Law Protects Car Buyers from "Junk Cars"

Car buyers in California will get increased protection under a new law that took effect on July 1.

Most bills passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor take effect on Jan. 1 each year. But all or part of about two-dozen other laws are taking effect at midyear.

The state is enacting a first-in-the-nation law to protect those shopping for used cars.

As of July 1, car dealers must mark vehicles with bright red warning stickers if they are listed in the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System database as junk, salvage or inundated during floods. Recreational vehicles, motorcycles and off-highway vehicles are exempted from the requirement.

"California is a dumping ground for salvage cars. We're the biggest market. We have a lot of young people and low-income people, a lot of immigrants and military people," said Rosemary Shahan, president of Sacramento-based Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. "What we tell consumers is anytime you're buying a used car, look for that red warning sticker. If it's there, you don't want that car."

The consumer protection was a trade-off for letting dealers raise the fee they can charge for titles and registrations from $55 to $80. AB1215 by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Sherman Oaks, also requires car dealers to begin registering vehicles electronically, a step projected to save the state more than $9 million annually by reducing paperwork at the Department of Motor Vehicles.