STAR Station Equipment Maintenance Requirements

The STAR program was implemented in 2013 to improve the overall quality of Smog Check inspections and help California meet required emissions reductions. As part of STAR certification, STAR stations are required to meet higher performance standards set in regulation and are also required to maintain the equipment necessary to inspect all vehicles subject to the Smog Check Program. Currently, this equipment includes the BAR-97 Emissions Inspection System (BAR-97) and the BAR On-Board Diagnostic Inspection System (BAR-OIS).

Each year, the population of older vehicles subject to BAR-97 inspections declines, leading some stations to let their BAR-97 equipment fall out of calibration. This has made it more difficult for consumers to find a station that can perform a BAR-97 inspection on their older vehicle. STAR station owners have indicated the primary reason for not maintaining the BAR-97 equipment is that the declining revenues from BAR-97 inspections does not offset the cost of maintaining the equipment. Secondly, some STAR station owners are under the impression that older vehicle inspections negatively impact their Follow-up Pass Rate (FPR) score. To clarify, the age of the vehicle is not the determining factor of the FPR score, rather it is the accuracy of the inspection.

Due to the declining demand for BAR-97 inspections, the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) sought, and subsequently received with the passage of AB 1263 (Berman, Chapter 681, Statutes of 2023), legislative authority to consolidate the inspection of older vehicles through a vendor operating under contract with BAR. Under this plan, the vendor would be responsible for establishing a network of facilities, which could include licensed stations subcontracted by the vendor, to perform BAR-97 inspections. If such an inspection network were to be implemented, it would relieve STAR stations from having to maintain BAR-97 inspection equipment and place that responsibility on the contracted vendor. Additionally, to help offset the loss of inspection volume that would occur, the inspection of 1996-1999 model year vehicles—currently inspected on BAR-97 equipment—could be shifted to the BAR-OIS system.

At the January 2024 BAR Advisory Group meeting, Deputy Chief Clay Leek sought input from the industry on the specific metrics and criteria that would drive a decision by BAR on whether to proceed with the implementation of this alternative approach for inspecting older vehicles. Deputy Chief Clay Leek noted that if BAR determines that the plan makes sense to pursue, it would take at least 2-3 years to implement. Until then, the existing network of STAR stations will continue to provide inspections for vehicles requiring a BAR-97 inspection. BAR will be taking steps to ensure that STAR stations continue to maintain their BAR-97 equipment. STAR program regulations specify that STAR stations must maintain at least one operational unit of all BAR-certified inspection equipment. Additionally, the regulations specify that all equipment requiring calibration must pass calibration at least once every ten calendar days. If a STAR station fails to meet this requirement, BAR may pursue suspension of the station’s STAR inspection privileges.

To protect consumers and ensure that BAR-97 inspections are available for owners of older vehicles, BAR will be notifying stations that are not in compliance with STAR equipment requirements. BAR strongly suggests that STAR stations not currently maintaining their BAR-97 equipment bring their equipment into compliance with current regulations as soon as possible.

For more information about STAR station equipment maintenance requirements, visit the STAR program webpage at

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