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California Mandates Red Stickers Of Shame For Salvage Cars

Flooded car in parking lot. Photo via Flickr user waitscm/CC2.0

The Red Badge of Courage it isn’t, but a new California law aims to out any salvage skeletons in cars’ closets.  On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown signed off on the requirement, which among other provisions, directs all Golden State car dealers to add red warning stickers to vehicles with salvage titles.

Dealers are already obligated to disclose title status, whether clear or branded.  Come next July, the stickers will call greater attention to flood damaged, junked or salvaged statuses on titles and window stickers, reports Automotive News (subscription required).

Consumer advocates and the California New Car Dealers Association are adding their kudos to the development, which in turn adds a few dollars to the allowable documentation charge, now $80 (regardless of salvage status). 

What does that 80 bucks buy--aside from a possible red sticker?  Potentially, added peace of mind.  It may also spur faster turnaround on license plates.  So instead of waiting up to six months, expect to have them in a month.  The forecasted improvement comes from the new law’s provision that dealers electronically register your car, though around half already do so.

While the law adds an extra measure of dealer responsibility, it doesn’t relieve consumers of theirs.  Red stickers or not, buyers should still learn all they can about cars’ histories.  It’s also worth reiterating these are stickers, not paint.  The new owner won’t be forced to drive with the anti-status symbol permanently affixed.

Image via Flickr user waitscm/Creative Commons 2.0

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