Governor signs bill raising doc fees on new and used cars
AB 1215 by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) and signed by Brown on Monday allows auto retailers to raise the documentation fees charged for processing auto purchases and lease agreements to $80 from $55 for new- and used-car purchases and from $45 for car leases.
Dealers will now be required to run the vehicle identification number of any used auto for sale on their lots through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System to check whether the auto has a so-called branded title. Any vehicles showing up as having been totaled or bought back through a lemon law or a victim of some other catastrophe would get a red window sticker warning potential buyers of the auto's history.
Both the new fees and vehicle history checks start July 1.
Insurance carriers, repair shops, towing companies and salvage yards must report totaled vehicles to the database, overseen by the U.S. Justice Department.
The legislation was supported by law enforcement agencies, consumer groups and the California New Car Dealers Assn.
“Buying a car comes second only to the commitment that comes with buying a home,” Blumenfield said. “With working families striving to stretch their dollars in this tough economy, there couldn’t be a better time to help ensure that family cars are a good and safe investment.
Blumenfield said California is the nation’s largest car market. Last year, more than 800,000 used cars were sold through dealerships.
Consumer advocates also liked the bill.
“For the first time, auto dealers will be required to provide vital information about a vehicle’s safety, reliability and worth before consumers even start negotiating. In California, millions of the most hazardous cars will be marked with a red sticker to warn consumers that they merit close scrutiny or should be avoided," said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.
-- Jerry Hirsch
Photo: Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills), left, and state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) at a state budget hearing at the Capitol on Feb. 23. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press