WASHINGTON - Attempts by car dealers to achieve uniform national rules for marking the titles of rebuilt wrecks has become more complicated.
Opponents of the approach favored by the National Automobile Dealers Association persuaded some senators to propose an alternative bill. It would require an attachment to every used-car title. On the added form, the seller would acknowledge major repair work or attest that none had occurred.
The alternative bill was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., at the behest of state attorneys general and consumer groups.
'If we thought the bill really had a chance to go through, we would be extremely concerned,' said Tom Greene, NADA's chief lobbyist. He said the alternative bill could make it easier for unscrupulous operators to resell rebuilt wrecks without disclosing their history.
Still, NADA will be forced to be on offense and defense at the same time, trying to get its bill passed while guarding against the alternative.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., has reintroduced the NADA-favored measure. It would give incentives to states to brand titles of vehicles up to 7 years old that suffer damage of more than 75 percent of their pre-crash value.
But Greene also acknowledged NADA has been rethinking its strategy. After failing to get a national bill passed in several congressional sessions, NADA's government relations committee considered abandoning the effort and concentrating on state laws. Ultimately, the panel recommended trying to pursue legislation at the state and national level.