After 16 Years, Justice Department Ordered To Build Used Car Database

A federal judge ruled last week that the Department of Justice has until March to establish a used car database as directed by Congress 16 years ago. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System will warn potential buyers if a used car was stolen or totaled, and will instantly verify the car’s title and mileage. Here’s how it will work…

By the end of March, all insurance companies, junkyards, and salvage operations will be required to tell the government when they write off vehicles damaged by floods, fires or crashes. Unlike the for-profit service CarFax, the system will capture information on all used cars.

The suit against the government was brought by Public Citizen, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety and Consumer Action, which argued that the Justice Department’s failure to implement the 1992 law was endangering consumers. Justice countered that after 16 years, establishing the database was next on their to-do list.

The government did not dispute that it had failed to implement the law. But it argued it could be trusted to implement the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System without court-ordered deadlines.

Judge Patel ruled from the bench and rejected the government’s request.

The ruling is a tremendous win for consumers, one that will eliminate much of the uncertainty associated with buying a used car.

Public Registry for Wrecks Is Back on Track [Wheels Blog]
Car safety database still MIA [ABC7]
Consumer Groups Win Suit Over Used Vehicle Database [Consumer Law & Policy Blog]
(Photo: extranoise)