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Catalytic converter legislation won’t solve California theft problem, say industry groups

Opposition is strong for SB 986, which will require permanent VIN marks on catalytic converters for new and used vehicle sales in California

Sacramento, Calif.—The California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA), the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) and the National Auto Actions Association (NAAA) say they strongly oppose SB 986 (Umberg), which they said seeks to impose an unworkable new obligation on auto dealerships and auto auctions by requiring them to permanently mark the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converters of virtually every new and used vehicle sold in the State of California.

“While we respect the intent of the author, SB 986 is unworkable and will ultimately result in increased costs for consumers while doing nothing to address rampant catalytic converter theft in California,” they stated in a news release. The industry groups stated their two primary arguments.

  1. Massive new costs would increase the cost of new and used vehicles. California’s new car dealers sell approximately 3.5 million new and used vehicles per year. SB 986 would require dealers to etch the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter on each vehicle before selling it. This onerous new mandate would result in over 3.5 million hours of required labor by vehicle technicians annually. Unfortunately, the significant new cost burden on California’s new car dealers, created by SB 986 would be felt directly by consumers across the state as many are already struggling with high costs and inflation. 
  2. SB 986 is a patchwork measure that will not solve theft issues. SB 986 is NOT a preventative measure, but rather seeks to address a prosecutorial gap in current law by putting this obligation on the backs of California’s dealerships, vehicle sellers and ultimately consumers. Catalytic converter theft victimizes all Californians. A comprehensive, meaningful deterrent is necessary, but SB 986 is a scattershot approach and does not provide any guarantee there will be a decrease in catalytic converter theft.  

They added, “CNCDA, AAI and NAAA are committed to playing a critical role in curbing catalytic converter theft. However, SB 986 is not a sound solution. For these reasons, we respectfully ask you to OPPOSE SB 986.”

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