Bill Champion

CAR Prioritizes Consumer Safety



When the Colorado Automotive Recyclers (CAR) association decided to champion a state salvage-titling bill, it did so knowing that if passed, there wouldn’t be a big monetary gain for the Colorado auto recycling industry. CAR decided to do it anyway simply because the bill was a huge score for consumer safety. HB1299 was signed into law on April 25, 2014.

“We literally talked about the benefits to CAR - as monetarily - once,” admitted Ryan Hochmiller, CAR president and part of the family-run Active Truck Sales & Parts, Inc. (www.activetruckparts.com) in Hudson, Colo. “This was a consumer protection bill.”

HB1299 immediately struck down an exemption that blocked vehicles six years and older from being labeled salvage. Previously, only newer vehicles automatically received a state-mandated salvage title if totaled in an accident. Hochmiller said only about eight states across the country had an exemption like this. The problem with the six-year exemption was a consumer could buy a used vehicle with a clean title, only to find major problems that should have labeled the vehicle salvage. The consumer was stuck with the repairs and the used car dealership with the liability. Now, HB1299 grants full disclosure to anyone that buys a vehicle.

“Before those vehicles were unsafe and no one knew about it,” Hochmiller explained. “There’s a little more work now, like rebuilders need to obtain a ‘rebuilt from salvage’ title, but at least we know.”

Also, the responsibility, and liability, for an undisclosed, damaged vehicle is now shared between insurers, pools, recyclers and used car dealers.

“The dealers were the ones really hurt by this six-year exemption,” added Hochmiller. “What this law does is it takes that sole responsibility off of their shoulders and distributes it evenly to everyone in the industry.”

CAR decided to get behind the legislation when its lobbyists, RJ Hicks and Jay Hicks of Hicks & Associates, approached the group. The legislation was already going on and Hochmiller said it was big enough as a consumer protection bill that CAR wanted to support it. That first piece of legislation failed, which only made CAR more focused to make sure HB1299 was passed into law.

“We spent all this time and money on it, so we really wanted to get the second one passed,” Hochmiller remembered.

Other organizations stepped up to support HB1299 the second time around, including the Colorado Independent Automobile Dealers Association (CIADA), Colorado Automobile Dealers Association (CADA), the Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Motor Vehicle personnel and the Car Collectors group. Hochmiller said the Car Collectors group was unsure about supporting HB1299 at first because they didn’t want the value of their classic vehicles to diminish. An exemption for classic vehicles was added to HB1299 at the last minute, which helped gain the support of the club.

Those against the bill were insurance companies and salvage pools. They argued that the bill would hurt poor people by forcing owners to get rid of their older vehicles with minor damage because they would be considered salvage.

“I didn’t understand that one,” said Hochmiller. “A poor person could now buy a salvage vehicle (rebuilt from salvage), and buy it cheaper, at the price it actually should be, instead of finding problems later.”

Although consumer protection was the main goal behind supporting HB1299, Hochmiller noted that there are some direct and indirect benefits to CAR members as well.

Many CAR members are used car dealers and are now free from liability in unknowingly misrepresenting a totaled vehicle under a clear title.

CAR members may see an increase in the amount of vehicles with a lower cost at the salvage pools because more vehicles will be titled “salvage,” at least in the short term.

CAR members may see a small drop in parts purchased from auto rebuilders that only build cars on clean titles. Members will continue to sell to those that rebuild cars and trucks from a “rebuilt from salvage” title.

CAR continues to build its reputation as a responsible proponent of ethical practices with Colorado’s auto industry.

Go to www.coloradoautorecyclers.com for more information on HB1299.

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