Accepted Trade Standards
Automotive repair dealers have a responsibility and an obligation to comply with the Automotive Repair Act and related laws and regulations. The following information is intended to help automotive repair dealers comply with accepted trade standards for good and workmanlike automotive services and repair. This information is for quick-reference purposes only and is not all-inclusive. Statutory and regulatory references are included to help automotive repair dealers identify, understand, and comply with the requirements. Search laws and regulations >
BAR recognizes that new technologies continue to emerge in the automobile industry that are not specifically addressed in the accepted trade standards regulations. If repair or service of an automotive system is not specified in the accepted trade standards, automotive repair dealers are required to perform all repairs in a good and workmanlike manner in accordance with manufacturer recommended repair procedures to ensure structural integrity and safety.
For documentation requirements and legal obligations related to estimates, invoices, repair authorizations, and record keeping, refer to BAR’s Write It Right.
(Last updated January 24, 2023)
What are accepted trade standards?
Accepted trade standards are requirements for good and workmanlike services and repairs performed by automotive repair dealers as specified in Title 16, Division 33, Chapter 1, Article 8 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR).
When are automotive repair dealers required to comply with the accepted trade standards?
While automotive repair dealers are required to perform all repairs in a good and workmanlike manner in accordance with manufacturer recommended repair procedures, automotive repair dealers also must comply with Bureau-adopted trade standards when performing services or repairs specifically relating to:
- Air conditioning (CCR § 3366)
- Auto body and frame repairs (CCR § 3365)
- Automatic transmissions (CCR § 3361.1)
- Ball joints (CCR §§ 3360.1, 3360.2, 3360.3)
- Engine changes (CCR § 3362.1)
- Ignition interlock devices (CCR §§ 3363.1, 3363.2, 3363.3, 3363.4)
- Inflatable restraint systems/airbags (CCR § 3367)
- Towing services (CCR § 3368)
- Vehicle identification information (CCR § 3364)
- Windshields (CCR § 3365.1)
How do the accepted trade standards benefit automotive repair dealers?
Compliance with the accepted trade standards helps automotive repair dealers ensure the quality and safety of their work on customers’ vehicles. Willful departure from or disregard of the accepted trade standards may be cause for an automotive repair dealer registration to be denied, suspended, revoked, or placed on probation. (Business and Professions Code (BPC) § 9884.7)
Automotive air conditioning utilizes a pressurized system to remove heat from the air inside the vehicle cabin as well as reduce humidity that can contribute to foggy windows and reduced visibility. Air conditioning systems must be inspected regularly for cracks, loose connections, and refrigerant leaks.
What are the accepted trade standards for advertising automotive air conditioning service or repair?
Any automotive repair dealer that advertises automotive air conditioning work and uses words such as service, inspection, diagnosis, top off, performance check, or any expression or terms of similar meaning must perform all service procedures specified by the accepted trade standards. (CCR § 3366(a))
What are the required service procedures specified by the accepted trade standards?
Any automotive repair dealer that performs automotive air conditioning service work (directly or through a sublet contractor) must perform all the following procedures as part of the air conditioning service work (CCR § 3366(a)):
Examine all exposed hoses, tubing, and connections for damage or leaks. (CCR § 3366(a)(1))
Examine the compressor and clutch, when accessible, for damage, missing bolts, missing hardware, broken housing, and leaks. (CCR § 3366(2))
Rotate the compressor to determine if it is seized or locked up. (CCR § 3366(3))
Examine service ports for missing caps, damaged threads and conformance with labeling. (CCR § 3366(4))
Examine the condenser coil for damage, restrictions, or leaks. (CCR § 3366(5))
Examine the expansion device, if accessible, for physical damage or leaks. (CCR § 3366(6))
Check the accumulator receiver dryer and in-line filter for damage, missing or loose hardware, or leaks. (CCR § 3366(7))
Check the drive belt system for damaged or missing pulleys or tensioners and for proper belt routing, tension, alignment, excessive wear, or cracking. (CCR § 3366(8))
If applicable, examine the fan clutch for leakage, bearing wear, and proper operation. (CCR § 3366(9))
Check the cooling fan for bent or missing blades. (CCR § 3366(10))
Examine the accessible electrical connections for loose, burnt, broken, or corroded parts. (CCR § 3366(11))
Identify the refrigerant in use and check for contamination. (CCR § 3366(12))
Check the system for leakage at a minimum of 50-PSI system pressure. (CCR § 3366(13))
Check the compressor clutch, blower motor, and air control doors for proper operation. (CCR § 3366(14))
NOTE: Refer to CCR § 3351.6 for equipment requirements for automotive air conditioning repair.
Do the individual service procedures need to be itemized on the invoice?
If the air conditioning service is listed on the invoice as service, inspection, diagnosis, top off, performance check, or any expression or terms of similar meaning, the individual service procedures do not need to be individually itemized. (CCR § 3366(a))
What additional information is required on the invoice for air conditioning service?
In addition to the standard invoice information (automotive repair dealer information, itemized parts and labor, and fees), invoices for air conditioning require that the automotive repair dealer:
Measure and record the high and low system operating pressures. (CCR § 3366(a)(15))
Measure and record the interior, center air distribution outlet temperature. (CCR § 3366(a)(16))
NOTE: Refer to CCR § 3356 for all invoice requirements.
If air conditioning repairs do not involve opening the refrigerant portion of the air conditioning system, are all air conditioning service procedures required?
If the air conditioning work does not involve opening the refrigerant portion of the air conditioning system, refrigerant draining, or re-charging of the refrigerant, the automotive repair dealer may perform just the service procedures necessary to complete the repair. (CCR § 3366(b))
Auto Body and Frame Repairs
Performing auto body and frame repairs correctly is essential for vehicle safety and occupant protection. Substandard auto body or frame repairs can compromise the structural integrity of the vehicle and possibly put the vehicle’s occupants in danger in the case of a collision.
What are the accepted trade standards for auto body and frame repairs?
The accepted trade standards for good and workmanlike auto body and frame repairs include the following:
- Repair procedures
- Sectioning requirements
- Corrosion protection application requirements
What are the service specifications for auto body frame repairs?
Repair procedures must be performed in accordance with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) service specifications. If an OEM procedure guide is not available, the automotive repair dealer must make good and workmanlike repairs following the specifications generally accepted by the auto body repair industry to ensure structural integrity and safety of the vehicle. (CCR § 3365(a))
What are the service specifications for auto body sectioning?
Sectioning (replacing less than a whole part by splicing into the part at non-factory seams) must be performed in accordance with OEM service specifications or nationally distributed service specifications for the make, model, and year of the vehicle being worked on. (CCR § 3365(a))
What are the requirements for applying corrosion protection?
Corrosion protection, a coating applied to the vehicle to create a corrosion resistant barrier that protects the structure or component from corrosive elements, must be applied in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications or nationally distributed and periodically updated service specifications for the vehicle being worked on. (CCR § 3365(b))
NOTE: Refer to CCR § 3351.5 for equipment requirements for auto body repairs.
The transmission is one of the most important components of a vehicle as it transfers the power of the engine to the wheels. Results of an improperly maintained transmission range from a drop in fuel economy to drivetrain failure.
Are there other components besides the automatic transmission that are included in the accepted trade standards for automatic transmissions?
The accepted trade standards apply to the automatic portion of the transmission. If the transmission and the differential are integrated into a transaxle assembly and share the same oil supply, the accepted trade standards apply to both the transmission and the differential. (CCR § 3361.1)
The torque converter is also considered to be part of an automatic transmission. (CCR § 3361.1(d))
What service procedures for automatic transmissions are specified by the accepted trade standards?
The accepted trade standards for repair or rebuilding automatic transmissions specify the requirements for:
- Inspection and diagnosis of an automatic transmission
- Removing and repairing an automatic transmission
- Rebuilding an automatic transmission
- Replacing an automatic transmission
What are the accepted trade standards for advertising transmission service or repair?
Any automotive repair dealer that advertises transmission work and uses words such as “exchanged,” “rebuilt,” “remanufactured,” “reconditioned,” or “overhauled,” or any expression of similar meaning, must perform all automatic transmission service procedures specified by the accepted trade standards. (CCR § 3361.1(c))
In addition, automotive repair dealers may not advertise or promote the sale of rebuilt transmissions if a less extensive or costly repair is available and desired by the customer. (CCR § 3361.1)
Is an inspection of the transmission required before it is removed from the vehicle?
Yes. Before an automatic transmission is removed from a vehicle for purposes of repair, overhaul, rebuilding, or exchange, it must be inspected to determine whether the replacement or adjustment of any external parts will correct the specific malfunction of the transmission.
In the case of electronically controlled automatic transmissions, the inspection must include the retrieval of any diagnostic trouble codes from the control module that regulates the operation of the transmission. (CCR § 3361.1(a))
What is required if the data from the electronic control module cannot be retrieved?
If a diagnostic check of an electronic control module cannot be completed due to the condition of the transmission, the automotive repair dealer must inform the customer and document the information on the estimate. (CCR § 3361.1(a))
Is a written estimate required prior to performing minor service, adjustment and/or replacement of external parts on an automatic transmission?
Yes. Before an automotive repair dealer performs minor service, adjustments, and/or replaces external parts on an automatic transmission, the customer must be provided an estimate and authorize the repairs. (CCR § 3361.1(a))
NOTE: Refer to CCR § 3353 for all estimate/work order requirements.
What is required on the written estimate if the transmission must be removed for repair or service?
If external adjustments or repairs do not correct the problem and a full tear down of the transmission is required to fully diagnose the malfunction, the automotive repair dealer must verify that removal and disassembly of the transmission is necessary and prepare a revised work order that describes all additional parts and labor, the total revised cost, and contains all the required elements of a teardown estimate as prescribed in CCR § 3353(c). The customer must be notified and must authorize the teardown. (BPC § 9884.9, CCR § 3353(c))
In addition, the automotive repair dealer must disclose any applicable guarantee or warranty, if any.
NOTE: Refer to CCR §§ 3375, 3376, and 3377 for all requirements applicable to guarantees and warranties.
What are the requirements for replacing or exchanging a customer’s transmission?
Any time a customer’s transmission is replaced with another transmission, it must be clearly noted as an “exchanged” transmission on the estimate and invoice. In addition, whenever the word “exchanged” is used to describe a transmission replacement, it must be qualified with words or descriptive terms such as “new,” “used,” rebuilt,” “remanufactured,” “reconditioned,” “overhauled,” or by an expression of similar meaning. (CCR § 3361.1(b))
What are the requirements for rebuilding an automatic transmission?
When rebuilding an automatic transmission, the automotive repair dealer must complete the following steps:
All internal and external parts, including case and housing, must be thoroughly cleaned and inspected. (CCR § 3361.1(c)(1))
The valve body must be disassembled and thoroughly cleaned and inspected unless otherwise specified by the vehicle manufacturer. (CCR § 3361.1(c)(2))
All bands must be replaced with new or relined bands. (CCR § 3361.1(c)(3))
All the following must be replaced with new parts (CCR § 3361.1(c)(4)):
Lined friction plates (CCR § 3361.1(c)(4)(A))
Internal and external seals, including seals that are bonded to metal parts (CCR § 3361.1(c)(4)(B))
All sealing rings (CCR § 3361.1(c)(4)(C))
Gaskets (CCR § 3361.1(c)(4)(D))
Organic media disposable type filters (if the transmission is so equipped) (CCR § 3361.1(c)(4)(E))
All impaired, defective, or substantially worn parts not mentioned above must be restored to a sound condition or replaced with new, rebuilt, or unimpaired parts. All measuring and adjusting of such parts must be performed as necessary. (CCR § 3361.1(c)(5))
The transmission’s electronic components, if so equipped, must be inspected and found to be functioning properly or be replaced with new, rebuilt, or unimpaired components that function properly. (CCR § 3361.1(c)(6))
The torque converter must be inspected and serviced. (CCR § 3361.1(c)(7))
What are the service requirements for the torque converter?
The torque converter must be examined, cleaned, and made serviceable before the transmission is installed. If the torque converter cannot be restored to a serviceable condition, then the customer must be notified and provided with a revised work order. With the customer’s authorization, the converter may be replaced with a new, rebuilt, remanufactured, reconditioned, or overhauled torque converter. (CCR § 3361.1(d))
What are the requirements for rebuilt torque converters?
A torque converter must not be represented as rebuilt, remanufactured, reconditioned, or overhauled unless the torque converter shell has been opened and all components of the overrunning clutch assembly have been inspected and replaced as required, all friction materials have been replaced, all rotating parts have been examined and replaced, the shell has been resealed, and the unit has been pressure tested. (CCR § 3361.1(d))
Ball joints are the ball-and-socket assemblies designed to carry the vertical and horizontal stresses in the front suspension system of a vehicle while permitting steering and suspension movement.
What are the accepted trade standards for ball joints?
The accepted trade standards for ball joints specify requirements for the following service and repairs:
Measuring wear or looseness of ball joints
Adjusting mechanically adjustable ball joints
Recommending replacement ball joints
How is the wear or looseness of ball joints measured?
The wear or looseness of ball joints must be measured with an instrument meeting the following requirements:
The instrument must be specifically designed and manufactured for measuring the wear or looseness of ball joints, and capable of measuring in thousands of an inch (.001) or in millimeters. (CCR § 3360.2(a))
The instrument must be manufactured by an OEM or a manufacturer who is generally known within the automotive repair industry as a supplier of such instruments. (CCR § 3360.2(b))
The instrument must be calibrated and maintained in accordance with the instructions issued by its manufacturer. (CCR § 3360.2(b))
How are wear-indicating ball joints measured?
Wear-indicating ball joints equipped with an integral means of measuring wear or looseness must be measured in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions. (CCR § 3360.2(e))
How are ball joints measurements recorded in the invoice?
When a ball joint is sold and installed, the invoice must include the following:
The measurement of wear or looseness of the ball joint being replaced. The measurement must be stated in thousandths of an inch (.001) or millimeters, whichever is appropriate for the vehicle, and to the specifications of the OEM or of the replacement parts manufacturer. (CCR §§ 3360.2(c), 3360.2(d), 3360.2)(e))
The maximum allowable wear or looseness permitted by the OEM or by the replacement parts manufacturer. (CCR § 3360.2(d))
NOTE: Refer to CCR § 3356 for all requirements applicable to invoices.
How are mechanically adjustable ball joints adjusted?
Ball joints manufactured with a means of manual adjustment to compensate for wear must be adjusted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. (CCR § 3360.2(f))
Is recommending ball joint replacement permitted?
Yes. An automotive repair dealer may recommend replacement of ball joints, if warranted. All measurement requirements must be disclosed to the customer and authorization for the replacement must be obtained. CCR § 3360.3
NOTE: Refer to CCR § 3353.1 for all requirements applicable to authorization.
Vehicles are designed to have the engine and emissions system integrally work together to keep the vehicle running efficiently while also meeting performance and emissions specifications.
What are the accepted trade standards for rebuilding or replacing an engine?
When rebuilding the original engine or installing a replacement engine, the automotive repair dealer must not make changes that would degrade the effectiveness of the original emission control system and/or components. (CCR § 3362.1)
What are the accepted trade standards for engine changes?
When installing an engine that is different from the one that was originally installed in the vehicle, an automotive repair dealer must ensure that the vehicle meets all emissions requirements after the engine change is complete. An automotive repair dealer must not make any motor vehicle engine change that degrades the effectiveness of a vehicle's emission control system. (CCR § 3362.1)
NOTE: The California Air Resources Board and BAR have jointly developed guidelines for performing engine changes. For more information, refer to BAR’s Engine Changes webpage.
Ignition Interlock Devices
An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer directly connected to the engine’s ignition system. It requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting the vehicle. If the resulting breath-alcohol concentration reading is greater than the programmed breath-alcohol limit, the device locks the ignition and prevents the engine from starting.
What are the accepted trade standards for ignition interlock devices?
The accepted trade standards include:
The installation, maintenance, and servicing of ignition interlock devices (CCR § 3363.1)
Manufacturer installation instruction requirements (CCR § 3363.2)
Installer authorization (CCR § 3363.3)
What are the installation requirements for ignition interlock devices?
Automotive repair dealers who install, maintain, or service ignition interlock devices must comply with the following (CCR § 3363.4, BPC § 9882.14):
Prohibit customers or other unauthorized persons from observing the installation, maintenance, or servicing of an ignition interlock device. (CCR § 3363.4(a))
Have all tools, test equipment, and manuals needed to install an ignition interlock device and screen vehicles for acceptable mechanical and electrical conditions prior to installation. (CCR § 3363.4(b))
Provide adequate security measures to prevent unauthorized persons from accessing secured materials (tamper seals or installation instructions). (CCR § 3363.4(c))
Consider the condition of the vehicle’s mechanical and electrical system prior to installing an ignition interlock device. (CCR § 3363.4(d))
Install an ignition interlock device according to the instructions from the device’s manufacturer. (CCR § 3363.4(e))
Verify the ignition interlock device is functioning properly after it has been installed in the vehicle. (CCR § 3363.4(f))
Verify the ignition interlock device is not installed in a manner that could adversely affect the performance of the ignition interlock device or safe operation of the vehicle. (CCR § 3363.4(g))
Restore the vehicle to its original condition when an ignition interlock device is removed. This includes permanently reconnecting and insulating with heat shrink tubing or equivalent all wires modified as part of the ignition interlock device installation. (CCR § 3363.4(h))
What are the responsibilities of ignition interlock device manufacturers?
The manufacturer of ignition interlock devices must provide detailed written instructions for the installation and operation of the device. (CCR § 3363.2)
Who can install ignition interlock devices?
Only automotive repair dealers or electronic and appliance repair dealers are authorized to install, maintain, or service ignition interlock devices. (CCR § 3363.3, BPC § 9880.2(c))
NOTE: Pursuant to BPC § 9882.14(d)(2), automotive repair dealers performing ignition interlock device services must inform consumers of both the fee schedule for reduced ignition interlock device program costs provided in subdivision (k) of § 23575.3 of the Vehicle Code (VC) and BAR’s telephone number. To comply with this requirement, automotive repair dealers may provide customers receiving ignition interlock device services a copy of the Ignition Interlock Device Reduced Fee Assistance notice.
Inflatable Restraint Systems/Airbags
An inflatable restraint system, which includes airbags, is a safety system in an automobile that automatically inflates the airbags upon impact in a collision to minimize injury to passengers. Improper repairs may cause non-deployment of airbags in a collision or deployment of the airbag in less severe conditions.
What are the accepted trade standards for inflatable restraint systems?
The accepted trade standards for good and workmanlike installation and repair of inflatable restraint systems prohibit previously deployed airbags from being installed, reinstalled, distributed, or sold. (CCR § 3367(a))
Can rebuilt or repaired airbags be installed in a vehicle?
No. An automotive repair dealer must not install or sell any airbag that has been previously deployed. (CCR § 3367(a))
What are the requirements for repairing an inflatable restraint system after an airbag deployment?
Inflatable restraint system repairs must be performed in accordance with OEM service specifications or nationally distributed and periodically updated service specifications that are generally accepted by the autobody repair industry. (CCR § 3365(a))
NOTE: Failure to replace a deployed airbag and restore an inflatable restraint system to the original operating condition when contracted and paid is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $5,000, one-year imprisonment, or both. (BPC § 9884.76)
Any violation pertaining to repairs of an inflatable restraint system is cause for disciplinary action in addition to, and not a limitation on, the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s authority to take disciplinary action or other legal action, pursuant to any other provision of law. (CCR § 3367(b))
In the event of a collision or malfunction, a vehicle may need to be towed to an automotive repair dealer for repair. To ensure a fair and competitive marketplace, the exchange of referral fees, commissions, or inducements of any kind are prohibited between automotive repair dealers and towing services.
What are the accepted trade standards for towing services?
The accepted trade standards for towing services prohibit automotive repair dealers from offering or accepting any commissions, inducements, or referral fee to or from a towing business. (CCR § 3368(a))
Can an automotive repair dealer offer a commission or referral fee to a towing business when arranging or requesting services?
No. An automotive repair dealer cannot offer a commission, referral fee, or inducement to a towing business as part of arranging or requesting towing of a vehicle to the repair shop. (CCR § 3368(a))
Can a towing business offer a commission or referral fee to an automotive repair dealer to arrange or request services from their towing business?
No. An automotive repair dealer cannot accept money or anything of value as a commission, referral fee, or inducement from a towing business. (CCR § 3368(b))
Can an automotive repair dealer charge for towing and storage fees?
An automotive repair dealer can charge reasonable towing and storage fees when those services are performed because of an accident or recovery of a stolen vehicle upon taking possession of the vehicle. (Vehicle Code § 22524.5)
NOTE: An automotive repair dealer cannot charge for storage during the time a vehicle is undergoing repairs. (Owens v. Pyeatt (1967) 248 Cal. App. 2d 840)
Vehicle Identification Information
A vehicle identification number (VIN) is a unique alphanumeric code assigned to a vehicle by the manufacturer. The code correlates with the vehicle make, model, engine size, transmission type, trim, and year manufactured.
What are the accepted trade standards for vehicle identification?
An automotive repair dealer shall not remove, paint over, or otherwise deface any vehicle identification labels or stickers, including those related to the vehicle’s emission control system, manufacturer’s authorized recall programs, or any stickers or decals that are required by BAR or other government agencies. (CCR § 3364(a))
What are the requirements if a VIN label or sticker is damaged or removed in the process of repairing or painting a vehicle?
If a VIN label or sticker is damaged or removed during repair, painting, or other vehicle service, it must be replaced unless the sticker or label is not reasonably available. (CCR § 3364(a))
What about other sticker or labels mandated by BAR or other government agency?
Any label or sticker mandated by BAR or other government agency or those applied to a vehicle as part of a manufacturer’s authorized recall program must not be removed, painted over, or defaced. (CCR § 3364(b))
Windshields are a critical component when it comes to the safety of the vehicle’s occupants. In addition to providing structural support, some vehicle windshields interact with other safety systems, such as advanced driver assistance systems.
What are the accepted trade standards for windshield installations?
The accepted trade standards for windshield installation specify the requirements for:
Windshield safety standards and vehicle manufacturer specifications
Windshield adhesive standards
Information required on the written estimate
Information required on the invoice
What information is required on a windshield replacement estimate?
When writing an estimate for windshield replacement, the automotive repair dealer must inform the customer that installation of the windshield will prevent operation of the vehicle for a period of time determined by the type of adhesive used. The automotive repair dealer must also disclose whether the windshield is an OEM part or a non-OEM part. (CCR § 3365.1(c)(3))
NOTE: Refer to CCR § 3353 for all estimate/work order requirements.
What are the required minimum safety standards for windshields?
Automotive repair dealers must use windshields that meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (49 C.F.R. 571.205 and 49 C.F.R. 571.212) and vehicle manufacturer specifications. (CCR § 3365.1(c)(1))
What are the required specifications for windshield adhesives?
Automotive repair dealers must use windshield adhesives that meet or exceed vehicle manufacturer specifications. Adhesive systems must be used and applied in accordance with the adhesive and vehicle manufacturers’ specifications. (CCR § 3365.1(c)(2))
What information is required on the invoice for windshield installations?
Automotive repair dealers must provide an invoice notifying the customer of the date and time when the installation was completed, the adhesive cure time, and whether the windshield is an OEM part or a non-OEM aftermarket part. (CCR § 3365.1(c)(4))
NOTE: Refer to CCR § 3356 for all requirements applicable to invoices.
Automotive repair dealer (ARD) - a person who, for compensation, engages in the business of repairing or diagnosing malfunctions of motor vehicles. (BPC § 9880.1(a))
Repair of motor vehicles - all maintenance of and repairs to motor vehicles performed by an automotive repair dealer, but excluding repairs made pursuant to a commercial business agreement and roadside services. (BPC § 9880.1(k))
Preventative maintenance services - includes oil and other fluid changes, rotating tires, and other services as defined in BPC § 9880.1(j).
Customer - the person presenting a motor vehicle for repair and authorizing the repairs to that motor vehicle. (BPC § 9880.1(f))
Crash part - a replacement for any of the non-mechanical sheet metal or plastic parts which generally constitute the exterior of a motor vehicle, including inner and outer panels. (CCR § 3303(o))
Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) crash part - a crash part made for or by the original vehicle manufacturer that manufactured, fabricated, or supplied a vehicle or a component part. (CCR § 3303(p))
Non-original equipment manufacturer (non-OEM) crash part - an aftermarket crash part not made for or by the manufacturer of the motor vehicle. (CCR § 3303(q))