Consumer Assistance Program Updates
On August 31, 2020, the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved and filed with the Secretary of State the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s (BAR) emergency regulations updating the Consumer Assistance Program (CAP).
The approved regulations amend sections 3394.3, 3394.4, and 3394.6 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR) by:
Increasing the state’s contribution toward emissions-related repairs from a maximum of $500 to either $900 or $1,200, depending on vehicle model year. All repairs over $500 must be preapproved by CAP.
Modifying the consumer co-payment from the total cost of testing and diagnosis of the emissions-related failure to a minimum of 20% of the total cost of diagnosis and repair of the emissions-related failure.
Establishing a flat fee for CAP diagnosis of 1.5 hours times the posted hourly labor rate for repairs. The diagnosis includes a pre-repair baseline inspection. An after-repair inspection is to be performed at no additional charge.
Allowing participation in CAP of a vehicle with vehicle registration expired up to 365 days.
Eliminating eligibility requirements pertaining to prior registration lapses.
BAR anticipates these updates will help significantly increase business at STAR test-and-repair stations that choose to perform CAP repairs. All updates and requirements for CAP repairs are included in an updated CAP Repair Assistance Operations Manual available at www.bar.ca.gov.
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to assist stations with the new updates:
What type of repairs are permitted by CAP?
CAP repairs are limited to emissions-related repairs necessary to correct the Smog Check inspection failure(s) identified on the vehicle inspection report.
The general categories for emissions-related repairs, include, but are not limited to the following:
Positive crankcase ventilation systems
Exhaust gas recirculation systems
Evaporative emissions control systems
Engine and mechanical systems related to emissions performance
Exhaust emissions control systems
As specified in CCR section 3394.3(b), the following repairs and other items are not authorized by CAP:
Repairs necessary to make a vehicle safe to test or testable.
Repairs to tampered emissions control systems.
Repairs which are recommended based on a diagnosis that fails to comply with the requirements for diagnosis specified in CCR section 3340.10(d).
Repairs that are unnecessary to resolve the cause of the Smog Check inspection failure.
Parts that have a mark-up greater than the average mark-up for the STAR test-and-repair station conducting the repairs.
Sublet repairs that have a mark-up greater than the average mark-up for the STAR test-and-repair station conducting the repairs.
Labor operation times that are greater than the average labor operation times for a particular vehicle type and repair.
What are the new repair assistance contribution amounts available to income-eligible consumers?
Owners of model year 1996 or newer vehicles may receive up to $1,200 in emissions-related repairs. Owners of model year 1976-1995 vehicles may receive up to $900 in emissions-related repairs.
What are the new requirements for testing and diagnostic fees?
The fee charged by stations for CAP diagnosis is a flat fee of 1.5 hours times the station’s posted hourly labor rate for repairs. The diagnosis includes a pre-repair baseline inspection. An after-repair inspection is to be performed at no additional charge.
NOTE: Consumer authorization must be obtained and recorded on an estimate meeting before proceeding with diagnosis and/or repairs. Obtaining CAP approval is not a substitute for obtaining consumer authorization. See BAR’s Write It Right guide for more information on documentation and authorization requirements.
What costs are the consumer responsible for?
The consumer is responsible for paying a co-payment toward the total cost of diagnosis and emissions-related repairs. The co-payment is paid by the consumer directly to the station. In addition, consumers must pay any additional costs, including:
The cost of repairs not authorized by CAP.
The cost of repairs not related to the Smog Check inspection failure.
The Smog Check certificate fee of $8.25.
How is the consumer co-payment calculated?
The consumer co-payment is a minimum of 20% of the total cost of diagnosis and repair of the emissions-related failure. The Repair Notification Form automatically calculates both the consumer co-payment and the state’s contribution amount.
Stations are required to complete and submit to CAP a Repair Notification Form to obtain preapproval for all diagnostic and repair costs totaling over $500. For more information on co-payment and contribution amounts, see the cost sharing tables included in section 4.4 of the CAP Repair Assistance Operations Manual.
What resources are available to help stations performing CAP repairs?
The following resources are available to assist stations with the new CAP updates:
CAP Tech Line – Call (866) 361-3933 to speak with a CAP Tech Line agent.
BAR Industry Help Desk – Email questions to BAR.IndustryHelpDesk@dca.ca.gov.