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.