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California Mandates Red Warning Stickers For Salvage Cars

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

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

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Hard on the heels of our warning about scams involving flood-damaged vehicles, well, flooding the market, lawmakers in California have mandated that, come next July, all salvage title vehicles sold by dealers in the state will have to carry red warning stickers.

Red is the color of caution, alerting potential buyers to be wary. There’s good reason for this, since even though car dealers are already obligated to disclose to buyers the status of a vehicle’s title, whether it is clear (what you want) or branded (what you probably don’t want), what they actually tell buyers may be something else indeed.

Not anymore, says Governor Jerry Brown, in effect, as he signed the Golden State bill into law.

The law, as reported in Automotive News (subscription required), also requires dealers to register all car sales electronically.

Dealers aren’t all that unhappy with the new law, though, since it also allows them to charge more money for documentation. Consumers may hate “doc fees,” whether they’re for cars or mortgages, but there’s no getting around it here. Dealers will be able to charge an $80 maximum documentation charge for new and leased vehicles.

But, back to those red warning stickers, as TheCarConnection points out, it’s still up to the consumer to learn as much as they can about the vehicle they’re buying. That includes all of the vehicle’s history, what you’d typically get by purchasing a CARFAX or vehicle history report. Also keep in mind that these are just stickers, not paint, and you won’t be shamed driving down the road with it announcing to the world that you just bought a flood-damaged or salvaged vehicle.

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