Bureau of Automotive Repair History and Overview

The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) is part of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), whose mission is to promote and protect the interests of California consumers. BAR provides a wide range of consumer protection services, including:

  • Registers and regulates approximately 36,000 California automotive repair dealers
  • Licenses Smog Check stations, technicians, and inspectors
  • Licenses brake and lamp stations and adjusters
  • Mediates automotive repair complaints, saving California consumers millions of dollars each year in the form of direct refunds, rework, and bill adjustments
  • Investigates and takes disciplinary action against licensees who violate the law
  • Administers and enforces the Smog Check Program
  • Helps to keep California‚Äôs air clean by reducing air pollution produced by motor vehicles


BAR was established within DCA in 1972 following enactment of the Automotive Repair Act (Act) (Senate Bill [SB] 51 [Beilenson, Chapter 1578, Statutes of 1971]). In response to consumer and industry concerns about fraud and incompetence in the auto repair industry, the Act established BAR as the licensing and regulating authority over automotive repair dealers. The Act also gave BAR authority to license and regulate stations and individuals that perform services in the areas of lamp and brake inspection and repair.

In 1982, California became the 20th state in the nation to adopt a vehicle inspection and maintenance (Smog Check) program. Pursuant to authority granted by SB 33 (Presley, Chapter 892, Statutes of 1982), BAR became the administrator of the California Smog Check Program in 1984.

For more than 40 years, BAR has helped to protect California consumers. From its headquarters in Rancho Cordova and 12 field offices stationed throughout the state, BAR serves many functions and administers various programs aimed at protecting Californians.


BAR is comprised of the following organizational divisions:

Licensing, Administration and Consumer Assistance Division

  • Licensing and Program Support Branch
  • Administration Branch
  • Consumer Assistance Program

Field Operations and Enforcement Division

  • Northern California Field Operations and Enforcement Branch
  • Southern California Field Operations and Enforcement Branch
  • Enforcement Operations Branch
  • Forensic Documentation Program

Smog Check Engineering and Information Services Division

  • Engineering and Research Branch
  • Technology Services Branch
  • Audits and Roadsides Branch


  • Auto Body Inspection Program - offers no-cost inspections to consumers to verify that collision repairs were performed correctly.
  • Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) - offers repair assistance and retirement options to consumers whose vehicles fail a Smog Check.
  • Referee Program - assists consumers with Smog Check inspection disputes, inspections of unusual vehicles, and locating hard-to-find emissions parts
  • Roadside Inspection Program - conducts roadside inspections to gather California vehicle emissions data.
  • Smog Check Program - aimed at reducing air pollution by identifying vehicles needing repairs to correct excess emissions.
  • STAR Program - certifies Smog Check stations and technicians meeting specified performance standards for the testing of directed vehicles.