SACRAMENT, Calif. — The vehicle history bill introduced in California last Monday failed to make it out of a Senate committee last Tuesday after more than half of the members abstained from voting. The committee, however, voted unanimously to allow the bill to be reconsidered.
Introduced by Sen. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), Senate Bill 990 aimed to change a new law set to effect July 1. It will require dealers to provide vehicle history reports produced by the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, which is maintained by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Vargas’ bill, which the California New Car Dealers ASsociation opposes, would allow dealers to source reports from companies like CARFAX, which sponsored the bill. Experian Automotive’s AutoCheck and R.L. Polk & Co. also are listed as a supporters of the legislation.
Citing a study that conducted a side-by-side comparison of the reports issued by the NMVTIS and commercial services, Vargas said the NMVTIS doesn’t track detailed vehicle history events, such as air bag deployment and open recalls, as well as structural or frame damage. He also argued that the NMVTIS doesn’t tracks vehicles deemed a “total loss,” and that companies like CARFAX do a better job of tracking police accident reports.
“My legislation is an important fix to better ensure that California have the opportunity to receive the best and most accurate information possible when purchasing a used vehicle,” Vargas said. “SB 990 will simply provide Californians with an option to obtain more information about a car’s vehicle history before making a purchase.”
Announcing its opposition to the bill the day it was introduced, the Consumer Federation of California argued that the language contained in Vargas’ legislation allows for the use of any commercial database with no regard to standards for reputability or accuracy. Officials also said Vargas’ bill does not include repercussions for providing false or inaccurate information.
“The legislation — being falsely sold by proponents as improving consumer safety — would gut last year’s Assembly Bill 1215, California’s landmark, first-in-the-nation protections provided to the state’s used-car buyers,” the CFC said in a press release. “Under the legislation, commercial entities that offer false guarantees will be competing with the federal database that was established by the U.S. Department of Justice …
“Because private data providers are not subject to regulations like the NMVTIS, this bill opens the door for inaccurate information to be provided to consumer with impunity.”
Passed last year, AB1215 prohibited the sales of used cars unless the selling dealers first obtain a vehicle history report from the NMVTIS. The bill garnered wide support from consumer groups, auto industry trade groups, law enforcement and the former head of the FBI’s Auto Theft Task Force.
The Senate Transportation and Housing Committee was deadlocked 2-2 when it voted on Vargas’ bill on April 10. Five of the nine committee members abstained, but the committed voted unanimously to reconsider the bill.