California slaps red tags on wrecks

A new California law requiring dealers to label salvaged vehicles with red warning stickers is shaping up as a test for consumer advocates who want to make it a federal program.

Makes sense to me.

Despite looking like “government regulation” even the rabid “free marketeers” should be good with this - if they understand anything about what’s supposed to make markets so great (which most don’t).

The underlying key is that everyone gets to make their own rational decisions. Rationality is only possible with complete information about options for the calculation of cost/benefit. Anything that brings more information to transactions should make markets work better because it enhances the ability to make rational decisions. (Of course, even that simple bit of stuff is full of myths & half-truths, but that is the general idea).

Just to give some history to cigroller’s comments, think back to the sequence of events regarding the Uniform Tire Quality ratings on the sidewalls of tires. They were instituted during the Carter Administration in order to help consumers see at a glance which tires had better heat resistance, better traction, and longer wear characteristics–even if the latter was not accurate across all brands.

A few years later, the Reagan Administration eliminated those ratings from the sidewalls of tires, and their explanatory statement was something along the lines of…in order to allow consumers to make independently informed decisions…or some kind of BS to that effect. In that spirit, the second Bush Administration instituted The Clean Air Initiative, which actually allowed industries to pour thousands of additional tons of pollutants into the atmosphere annually. In other words, “Double Speak”.

Yup, the “Free Market” works very well…if you are an industrialist.
And, just in case you think that I am some kind of wild-eyed hippy radical, I am actually a fiscally conservative, socially moderate, retired person who holds large blocks of “Fortune 500” stocks, and who derives a significant portion of his income from those stocks.

However, I would willingly trade a lower rate of return on those stocks for increased responsibility on the part of industry. And, since industry does not usually choose to voluntarily act in a responsible manner, that is why we do need many types of government regulation.

Wow. Good one VDC.

And just in case it matters to anyone, I’m pretty fiscally conservative and socially moderate (but can only WISH I was retired) - but I often sound and act like a wild-eyed hippy radical nonetheless :wink:

Just offhand it doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me but as with most things the devil is in the details.

Where would this sticker be attached?
Permanent metal plate or paper stick on?
What if this plate were to “inadvertently fall off”?
What if a car damaged by collision or flood was repaired and put on the market with no paper trail to a salvage claim?
What about a car that is tarnished by a branded title but in reality the car was declared a total because of economics, not necessarily a matter of the amount or severity of the damage?

I got a chuckle out of the comment from the head of the CA New Car Dealers Assoc. and who is also a dealer.
“No new car dealer would knowingly sell a car with a branded title”.

Even omitting the word “knowingly” there’s plenty of ways a dealer may end up selling a car that in theory should be a total; clean title or not.

And just in case it matters to anyone, I’m pretty fiscally conservative and socially moderate (but can only WISH I was retired) - but I often sound and act like a wild-eyed hippy radical nonetheless :wink:

With the massive rightward swing the political spectrum has undergone in the last 30 years, “fiscally conservative social moderates” ARE wild-eyed hippie radicals.

Remember, based on the views of today’s neo-conservative Republicans (and even more so, the Tea Partiers), Reagan was a liberal.

If it becomes federal, then title washing will be very hard to do.

Goodbye Katrina cars

Shadowfax makes an excellent point when he says that, “based on the views of today’s neo-conservative Republicans (and even more so, the Tea Partiers), Reagan was a liberal”.

For graphic evidence of how Reagan, the GOP’s model president, actually held some of the same views on taxation that the GOP currently criticizes Obama for, take a look at this concise little 59 second video:

That’s a great one VDC. Thanks for posting it!

While it makes sense, what prevents shady resellers from ignoring the red stickers? They ignore the databases that CarFax and AutoCheck use already, don’t they? And this would be a windfall for CarFax/AutoCheck if the state did not run it, and it could put them out of business if the state did run it. How could this work without making big changes to those companies bottom line? And if it did make a big change, which way is better?

I’m retired and personally quite conservative both financially and culturally but it is often evident that as life gets more complicated the laws that regulate business must get up to speed to protect the public from the unscrupulous. When the federal government mandated strict enforcement of the laws regarding odometer mileage there was an abrupt end to setting back the mileage on cars. I feel certain that a federal mandate on salvaged automobiles would benefit the car buying public a great deal also.

While everyone is “venting” their political slant; " I AM a wide eyed long haired liberal hippy type who believes both national parties are way too conservative. I trust few over the age of 25 and want free education and national healthcare for all, don’t care how we fund it, just do it. I want all our youth to grow up advantaged and feel they are the keys to their long term prosperity and job growth. I feel most If not all corporations are trying to stick it to us for profit and need to be regulated like heck. The Salvation Army and the local church groups which sponsored free “meals for me” are a few of the institutions worth trusting…and one or two tattoo parlors."

Shove it with the politics already!! This is about cars and related and although government regulations are an element… I contend the “intent” of this web site doesn’t reflect threads like this one.

The original Car Talk forum had a RANT AND RAVE section which was the most popular area. I had not noticed a restriction on “General Discussion.” Does the site discourage political comment?

Sorry, binkman, but automotive issues and politics are closely linked, from CAFE standards to emissions inspections. You can’t escape the link, as much as you would obviously prefer.

I take it from your response, you are a worshiper of the Republican Messiah (Reagan), and are aggravated by VDCdriver’s video link because you are suffering from cognitive dissonance as a result of your hate for the best Republican President ever (Obama).

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, we didn’t have odometer laws. In checking out used cars, the last thing we checked was the odometer. We assumed that the odometer had been rolled back. I examined used cars where a careless used car detailer had forgotten to remove an oil change sticker and the cars had many more miles than indicated on the odometer
It seems that today’s consumers are less knowledgeable about purchases. I used to subscribe to the rule “let the buyer beware”, I think that the California red tag rule may be necessary.

There’s laws about odometer tampering that have been around for decades but that doesn’t mean those laws stopped the practice since those laws were passed.

Changing the instrument cluster out to repair a “broken speedometer” or in the case of late models even an ECM or electronic cluster change is not out of the question.

About 20 years ago I got a bit crossways with a dealer I worked for who sent many of this trade-ins back to the service for a going over. One day he sends a Ford pickup with 140k miles on it back to service to fix a broken speedometer. I drive the truck and the speedo works fine with no hiccups at all and tell him this. He hems and haws around a bit and says he’s already bought another cluster from the boneyard for 45 bucks and wants it changed anyway.

Seeing where this was going I told him I didn’t feel comfortable with doing this even though legally there was nothing wrong with doing the job. He got irritated and sent the truck to someone down the street where they changed the cluster out and the truck ended up back on the lot with only 80k miles on it.
He also did this with 2 more Ford trucks at the same time. Do the math. Three clusters X 45 bucks a pop + 50 bucks a pop labor at the other guy just translated into thousands of dollars on these lower miles trucks.
(All 3 trucks had about 150k miles on them. Once the clusters were changed they all had 70-80k miles.)

The law said that any odometer change should be notated by engraving it on the door jam. Sometimes the engraving, hard to see anyway, was done in an obscure spot and would never be seen by anyone. The seller is sure not going to mention it. :wink:

There was a Nissan dealer in upstate NY that got caught rolling back speedometers. It took YEARS for the authorities to gather enough evidence to prosecute. He lost his franchise and a friend of mine bought it. Based on stats on other crimes…only about 20% will ever get caught. And that’s just new and used car dealerships…not to mention individuals that will do this. That’s why when buying a use vehicle you should always get it inspected by a trusted mechanic.

I lived in a small college town in Illinois for my first round of graduate school in the early 1960s. I would often walk through the used car section of the local Ford dealer. I saw a nice 1960 Buick LeSabre come in one day that I thought I might want. The odometer read 75,000 miles. An employee drove it into the service area. The next day, that Buick had 45,000 miles. Later, I was looking at a car on the lot. The odometer was reset to zero. There were seven more cars that had zero miles indicated. The salesman explained to me that these cars were traded in with “broken” speedometers.
In my second round of graduate school, I had finished my coursework and accepted a job. I needed a better car to leave town. I stumbled on a 1968 AMC Javelin which was priced at $1695 on a used car lot. This was more than I wanted to pay, but I did take the car for a test drive. This was in May of 1971 and the odometer read 33,000 miles. I fished through the glove compartment and found that the car had been inspected in February of 1971 with 55,000 miles. I bought the car for the wholesale book price of $1200. I drove that car 6 years and put over 100,000 miles on what the car already had when I bought it. What is ironic is that the movie “Breaking Away” used that exact car lot in the film.