On Monday October 3rd, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill (AB 1215) into law that puts California at the forefront of lemon law progress. The law mandates that both new and used car sellers verify the condition of their used vehicles using a federally run database. If the database uncovers any significant problems in a vehicle’s past, the seller is required to flag it with a red “buyer beware” sticker. No other state currently has a provision like it.
As the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety’s president Rosemary Shahan told The New York Times Wheels blog, the law aims to protect and save car buyers’ money by making them aware of potential problems in a vehicle’s history before they purchase the car. The database that will be used to check the cars starting next July, is the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, adopted in 2008 by Congress and run via the Justice Department. It contains information on vehicles collected and submitted by states, insurance companies, junk yards, and salvage lots. The database is available to everyone for a nominal fee, and utilized by state DMV offices and police departments.
While the bill has been backed by many organizations, including the California New Car Dealers Association and the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, used car sellers have expressed dissatisfaction with the bill (used car giant Carfax formally opposed the bill at a July hearing).