Delegates from China Visit BAR to Discuss Consumer Protection Initiatives
Chief Patrick Dorais and BAR staff welcomed a delegation from the Shanxi province of China on January 13, 2016, for an open discussion and presentation on BAR’s consumer protection objectives. The presentation provided information about the Smog Check Program, the Consumer Assistance Program, and enforcement activities. BAR staff also provided a laboratory demonstration of BAR-97 and BAR-OIS inspections. This and other international visits demonstrate California’s state-of-the-art programs and the interest from countries around the world to replicate our successes in consumer and air quality protection.
Frequently Asked Questions: Smog Check Inspector and Smog Check Repair Technician Licensure and Renewals
What type of Smog Check license(s) do I need?
A Smog Check Inspector license is required to inspect and certify vehicle emissions control systems. A Smog Check Repair Technician license is required to diagnose, adjust, and repair vehicle emissions control systems. If you will be inspecting and repairing vehicles, both licenses are required.
How do I apply for a Smog Check Inspector and/or Smog Check Repair Technician license?
To apply for a Smog Check Inspector and/or Smog Check Repair Technician license, you must meet either the certification or education/experience prerequisites indicated on the application. Applicants meeting all requirements must submit a completed application and the applicable fee. The application can be downloaded from the Licensing page at www.bar.ca.gov or call the BAR Licensing Unit at (916) 403-8477 or (855) 735-0462.
What is the next step after I submit my application?
After BAR has reviewed your application and determined your eligibility, the examination administration contractor will mail you a notice with instructions for scheduling your examination(s). Once you pass your examination(s), your wall and badge license will be mailed to you with details on how to activate your license(s).
How often must I renew my license?
Smog Check Inspectors and Smog Check Repair Technicians must renew their licenses every two years. Courtesy renewal notices are mailed out 120 days prior to the expiration date. If you do not receive a courtesy renewal notice in the mail, you are still responsible for renewing your license by the expiration date.
What are the requirements for license renewal?
To renew your Smog Check Inspector and/or Smog Check Repair Technician license, you must meet the continuing education (update training) requirements specified on the renewal notice. Smog Check Repair Technicians must also meet certification requirements in order to renew their license. Licensees meeting all renewal requirements must submit a completed renewal notice and the applicable fee.
Smog Check Inspectors and Smog Check Repair Technicians who do not submit their renewals within one year of the expiration date will be required to submit a new application and fees, take required courses, and retake the examination(s).
License and Registration Fee Schedule
CAP Services at STAR Test-and-Repair Stations
The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) has received telephone calls from consumers concerned about being unable to receive Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) services at some STAR Test-and-Repair stations. The consumers indicated that they were given reasons such as the station does not perform CAP repairs, the station is too busy, or the diagnosis alone would cost $500. While there can be legitimate reasons for rejecting a vehicle, such as vehicle safety, engine overheating, or transmission problems, the reasons described by many consumers do not appear to fall in these categories.
According to California Code of Regulations section 3392.5.1(a)(9), a STAR Test-and-Repair station is required to participate in CAP in order to maintain its STAR Test-and-Repair certification. The CAP Operations Manual prohibits making any false statements to exclude, refuse, or discourage consumers from participating in CAP at their station. STAR Test-and-Repair stations are encouraged to contact the CAP Help Desk at (866) 272-9642 with any questions and to regularly reference the CAP Operations Manual and CAP training resources page at www.bar.ca.gov.
BAR would also like to remind STAR Test-and-Repair stations that participating in CAP provides many benefits, including:
Availability of CAP services at all STAR Test-and-Repair stations ensures that consumers have access to the repairs they need and offers many valuable benefits to stations.
What to Expect During a BAR Visit
Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) field representatives routinely visit facilities for various reasons, but most visits involve performing routine inspections or investigating consumer complaints.
Periodic inspections provide a great opportunity for BAR to communicate with facilities. BAR is required to ensure that automotive repair dealers (ARDs) and brake, lamp, and Smog Check stations are performing their licensed activities in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations. However, these inspections are also an opportunity to ask the representative any questions you may have regarding procedures or how the laws and regulations apply to the licensed activities you perform.
During an inspection, the owner or Responsible Managing Employee (RME) will be required to provide invoices, certification books, or other documents to review. The representative will often have you confirm calibration on test equipment and will verify that required tools, manuals, signs, and BAR publications are present. If any deficiencies are noted during the inspection, you will be asked to correct them. A follow-up visit may occur or you may be asked to submit proof of correction in the form of a receipt for equipment service or the purchase of required tools/signs.
Most facilities in California are committed to operating their business in a professional, ethical manner with the goal of 100 percent customer satisfaction. Despite these efforts, occasionally a customer will be unhappy and will contact BAR to file a complaint. During the 2014-15 fiscal year, BAR received approximately 19,000 consumer complaints by telephone, online, by mail, or in person at a BAR field office. The majority of complaints allege misdiagnosis, poor workmanship, and warranty issues. The Automotive Repair Act requires BAR to investigate these complaints and allegations.
BAR’s objective is to ensure that each complaint is thoroughly investigated and to work towards a fair and just resolution for both parties. Since BAR receives a wide variety of complaints, the inquiry process is adjusted to best address the specific allegations. When a complaint has been filed against your facility, it is reviewed in the field office and assigned to a representative, who will contact the consumer to obtain a statement and review any paperwork provided with the complaint. The representative will then visit your facility to get your statement and ask for any necessary documents such as repair orders or parts purchase invoices. The complaint inquiry may require several contacts with your facility and the consumer.
The representative’s role is to facilitate a resolution to the complaint and to provide information to the facility that may help prevent similar misunderstandings. The representative will prepare a report and make a recommendation to resolve the complaint, which might include reworking the vehicle, issuing a refund, or that no action be taken. BAR does not have the legal authority to direct a facility to rework a vehicle or refund money. The representative will usually discuss his or her findings with both parties and any violations of the applicable laws and regulations will be addressed with the facility owner and/or RME. Complaints that result in findings of fraud or other serious violations may result in additional investigation and the filing of a disciplinary action.
Visits to facilities are one of BAR’s most effective tools to meet our statutory mandates and achieve our mission. If any questions or concerns about a BAR visit are not resolved by the representative, you may contact the supervisor at the local field office for assistance. Your cooperation during BAR visits allows us to perform our functions with minimal disruption to your business day and supports our common goal to ensure a fair and competitive automotive repair marketplace for California consumers.
Vehicles with Extended Emissions Warranties
The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) has received reports that consumers are not always being informed that some emission-related components may be covered under an extended warranty when their vehicle fails a Smog Check. For example, Partial Zero Emission Vehicles (PZEVs) have a warranty covering certain emission-related components for up to 15 years or 150,000 miles. When a vehicle fails a Smog Check during the warranty period, the owner is entitled to dealer repairs on these components. It is critical that Smog Check technicians check the underhood label to determine if the vehicle is a PZEV and may be under warranty.
If there is no underhood label, technicians and consumers should check the vehicle owner’s manual. If neither the label nor the owner’s manual is available, BAR recommends checking the Air Resources Board (ARB) website at ww2.arb.ca.gov. The website contains the Executive Order for each vehicle certified in California and has all the information that is on the underhood label. These Executive Orders are organized by Executive Order number and date and provide both the emission system designation and the test configuration. ARB’s website has instructions for finding the correct information for any vehicle.
For vehicles with missing underhood labels, it is appropriate to order replacement labels from a dealership using the vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). There may be a charge for this service and the label is usually ready in a few days.
Vehicle Manufacturer Warranties on BAR's Website
The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) has updated its website to include links to vehicle manufacturer warranty information. This new resource, for use by technicians and consumers, provides information on emission-related repairs covered under the vehicle warranty and other information including warranty time frames, mileage requirements, and who to contact with questions and disputes. Access the new Manufacturer Warranty Information page at www.bar.ca.gov.
Spring 2016 Regulations Update
The following regulatory actions are under development. For more information on regulation proposals or to learn about future opportunities for public participation, visit the Regulatory Actions page at www.bar.ca.gov.
BAR is moving forward with a regulation package to update its Disciplinary Guidelines. The guidelines, which are statutorily mandated to be adopted in regulation, are intended to be a resource for those involved in and affected by the disciplinary process, including registrants, licensees, and the general public. They are used in the administrative process to promote consistent and appropriate penalties when imposing disciplinary action.
The proposed changes to the Disciplinary Guidelines are necessary to address legislative and regulatory changes that have occurred since their last revision in May 1997. The guidelines will also be updated to ensure consistent use of titles and terms, to remove outdated and unnecessary terms and conditions of probation, to adopt a new probationary registration process, and clarify BAR’s enforcement authority in light of the licensing restructure implemented in 2012.
A public hearing was held on January 8, 2016. One written comment was received during the 45-day public comment period. As a result of changes made in response to the comment, an additional 15-day public comment period was provided. A Final Statement of Reasons will be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law for adoption this year.
Windshield Replacement Standards
Windshields are an important safety feature in motor vehicles. Windshields support the vehicle frame and are manufactured and installed according to certain standards to have sufficient strength and bonding to the vehicle to prevent ejection during a crash.
To address the issue of improper windshield replacement and vehicle occupant ejections, BAR is proposing a regulation to require that the products and procedures involved in windshield installation and replacement meet accepted trade standards. The proposed regulation also requires disclosures to the customer of the minimum cure time or “drive-away” time, the date and time upon which installation was completed, and whether the windshield supplied is an original equipment manufacturer part or non-original equipment manufacturer part.
A public hearing was held on January 19, 2016. Four written comments were received during the public comment period.
Mobile Automotive Repair Dealer Advertising
BAR is working with automotive repair industry stakeholders to address internet advertising of unlicensed repair services on various websites. In addition to consumer complaints, BAR enforcement staff continuously monitor public advertising forums to track the growing number of unlicensed individuals and businesses reaching consumers. After identifying unlicensed activity, BAR coordinates with law enforcement agencies to conduct sting operations throughout the State.
In 2014, BAR began posting on its website a list of citations issued to individuals and businesses found performing repairs without a valid automotive repair dealer (ARD) registration. Over 1,700 citations have been issued since regulations adopted in 2012 gave BAR authority to issue citations for unlicensed activity.
A Notice of Proposed Action was published on January 22, 2016. A public hearing was held on March 14, 2016.
Smog Check Training Institutions and Instructors
This proposed regulation will update and revise the requirements for certification of training institutions and instructors to create consistency with Smog Check licensing requirements. The regulation will also replace the technologically out-of-date Bureau of Automotive Repair Standards document with the new Bureau Training Programs Standards document. The new document provides the minimum standards to provide training for Smog Check licensees. Finally, the proposed regulation would allow vehicle manufacturer training to satisfy the renewal requirements for the Smog Check Repair Technician license.
BAR Industry Help Desk
Have a question about the Bureau of Automotive Repair On-Board Diagnostic Inspection System (BAR-OIS) or Smog Check? Contact the BAR Industry Help Desk to speak to a BAR program representative for technical support or assistance. The BAR Industry Help Desk responds to telephone and email inquiries from automotive repair dealers, Smog Check stations, and technicians, official brake and lamp stations, and consumers.
Questions concerning enforcement actions, citations, STAR invalidations and appeals, or complaints are not addressed by the Industry Help Desk. Please contact BAR's Enforcement Branch at (916) 403-8060 for assistance with these issues.
BAR by the Numbers
Licensing Summary - as of December 31, 2015
Complaint Trends for Fiscal Year 2015-16 (as of December 31, 2015)
Disciplinary Actions (July - December 2015)
Public documents relating to the following disciplinary actions are available on the License Search page at www.dca.ca.gov.
Follow the Bureau Online
The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) is online! The website's user-friendly design allows licensees and the automotive repair industry to easily find the information they are looking for. Click on the “Industry" tab on the home page to quickly access ET Blasts, STAR information, licensing information, and more. Need a form or application? All BAR documents can now be accessed through the “Documents” tab.
BAR Employment Opportunities
BAR hires program representatives throughout the state to enforce the laws and regulations governing automotive repair and Smog Check services. If you are interested in working for BAR, please visit the Job Opportunities page at www.bar.ca.gov to review examination requirements and job announcement postings.