On January 1, 2013, the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) implemented an important change to the Smog Check Program. The STAR Program is the result of state legislation (AB 2289, Statutes of 2010) and years of planning to improve the Smog Check Program. One of the AB 2289 reforms establishes performance standards for Smog Check stations and inspectors. BAR certifies stations meeting program eligibility requirements.
Some vehicles require a Smog Check at a STAR station. This includes vehicles that fail Smog Check due to excessively high emissions levels. It also includes vehicles, based on Smog Check history and other data, with the greatest likelihood of failing their next inspection. The Department of Motor Vehicles registration renewal notice indicates if a vehicle requires inspection at a STAR station. Instructions are provided on the back of the renewal notice to assist consumers with the STAR Program.
STAR stations must meet specified performance standards established by BAR. Some STAR stations are licensed to perform only tests, while others are licensed to perform both tests and repairs. The station is required to post a sign on the services it performs.
STAR stations are required to post a sign so that consumers can easily identify them. The "STAR" sign is bright red and can usually be found hanging directly under or near the station's "Smog Check" sign. BAR's Station Locator tool can help consumers easily locate a STAR station in their area.
Despite significant improvements in air quality, California still continues its efforts to meet federal health-based standards for ozone pollution. With over 10 million vehicles inspected each year in California, the quality of those inspections is critical. For this reason, the STAR Program has become a key element of the state plan to further improve the quality of air Californians breathe. It establishes performance standards for Smog Check stations and inspectors. In return, these stations and inspectors are provided vehicles that can only be inspected at a STAR-certified station. This includes vehicles with emissions levels that exceed allowable state standards and vehicles most likely to fail their next Smog Check. Stations maintain their STAR certification by having their inspectors perform quality inspections on these higher polluting vehicles. As these higher polluting vehicles are repaired or retired, the state's air quality improves.
The Consumer Assistance Program offers financial assistance to income eligible consumers whose vehicles fail Smog Check. Program options provide consumers up to $1,500 to retire a vehicle or up to $500 in emissions-related repairs at a STAR-certified Test and Repair station.