Repair Assistance Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is the Consumer Assistance Program?

The Bureau of Automotive Repair's (BAR) Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) offers eligible consumers repair assistance and vehicle retirement options to help improve California’s air quality by reducing motor vehicle emissions.

Participation is based on meeting eligibility requirements and the availability of funds each fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).

What does the repair assistance option offer?

The CAP repair assistance option offers income-eligible consumers assistance toward emissions-related repairs at a STAR test-and-repair station if their vehicle fails its biennial (every other year) Smog Check inspection.

  • 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.

Emissions-related repairs correct problems contributing to a vehicle’s failure to pass a Smog Check inspection.

How to Apply

How do I apply for repair assistance?

To apply for repair assistance, complete the following steps:

  • Step 1: Review eligibility requirements - Please review all eligibility requirements prior to applying. You must meet all requirements to be eligible for repair assistance. BAR is unable to determine your eligibility until your application is submitted and processed.
  • Step 2: Apply online - After you submit your online application, a confirmation notice will be displayed. The notice includes your CAP ID number and other important information. Print or email the confirmation notice for your records.

NOTE: You may be required to submit income documents verifying your income before your application can be processed. A notice will be mailed to you if documentation is required.

Can I submit an application by mail instead of applying online?

If you are unable to apply online, you may call the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Consumer Information Center at (800) 952-5210 to request an application be mailed to you. Please note, applying online may result in faster processing.

Should I submit documents verifying my household income with my application?

You may submit documentation verifying your income after submitting your application. Visit the Household Income Eligibility Guidelines page for a list of acceptable documentation options and instructions on how to submit your documents.

How can I check the status of my application?

To check the status of your application, use our online status check tool. Have your CAP ID number and vehicle license plate number available.

Where do I find my CAP ID number?

If you applied online, your CAP ID number is listed on your online application confirmation notice.

If you submitted your application by mail, your CAP ID number is provided on a notice that will be mailed to you after your application has been processed.

Application Review and Processing

I submitted my application, what can I expect?

Within two weeks of BAR receiving your application, the application and all supporting documentation will be reviewed to verify it is complete. To complete your application, you may be required to provide additional documentation or information.

If additional information and/or documentation is required to complete my application, how will I be notified?

If your application is incomplete, a notice of deficiency will be mailed to you. The notice will identify the information and/or documentation you are required to submit before your application is considered complete and can be processed.

What is the most common reason an application is determined to be incomplete/deficient?

Your application may be considered incomplete until you provide acceptable documentation verifying your household income. NOTE: BAR cannot determine program eligibility until income is verified.

How long does it take to process an application and determine eligibility?

Within two weeks of receiving your complete application, BAR will review the application and all supporting documentation to determine eligibility.

If my application is denied, how will I be notified?

If your application is denied, a notice of ineligibility will be mailed to you. This notice will include all eligibility requirements that were not met.

What are the most common reasons an application is denied?

  • Vehicle has not failed its biennial Smog Check inspection – BAR will review records to verify the vehicle failed its biennial Smog Check inspection for one of the following reasons: Fail (F); Gross Polluter (GP); Not Ready (R).
  • Vehicle’s registration sticker has been expired more than 365 days - BAR will review DMV records to verify the applicant is applying within 365 days of their vehicle’s registration sticker expiration date.
  • Vehicle is undergoing a change of ownership transaction - BAR will review DMV records to verify the vehicle is not in the process of changing ownership.
  • Vehicle owner or co-owner’s income exceeds 225% of the federal poverty guidelines - BAR will review the gross household income provided on the application along with the applicant’s income verification documentation to verify the gross household income does not exceed income eligibility guidelines.
  • Applicant previously received assistance for the same vehicle through CAP - BAR will review participation records to verify the applicant has not previously received assistance from CAP for the same vehicle.
  • Applicant is not the registered owner of the vehicle with title issued in their name - The name on the application must match the name on the applicant’s driver license, vehicle registration, and any required income documentation. Any variations in a name may cause the application to be denied.

If my application is denied and I resolve the denial reason(s), do I have to re-apply?

No. If you have documentation proving you resolved the denial reason(s) indicated in your notice of ineligibility, you may mail it to BAR (Attention: CAP, 10949 N. Mather Blvd, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670) for re-evaluation purposes. Documentation must be submitted within 45 days from the date of your notice of ineligibility, as participation is limited to the availability of funds each fiscal year (July 1 - June 30).

If I submit documentation for re-evaluation purposes, how long does it take BAR to review the documentation and re-evaluate eligibility?

BAR typically reviews documentation submitted for re-evaluation purposes within one week of receipt. Upon completion of the review, an updated determination notice will be mailed to you.

If my application is approved, how will I be notified?

If your application is approved, a letter of eligibility will be mailed to you. The letter will include information on the amount you may receive in financial assistance towards emissions-related repairs and instructions on how to obtain repairs to your vehicle at a STAR-test-and-repair station working under agreement with BAR.

Repairing Your Vehicle

Where do I take my vehicle for repairs?

After you receive your letter of eligibility indicating your application is approved, take your vehicle to a STAR test-and-repair station authorized to perform CAP repairs. To find a station, use our online tool or call (800) 952-5210.

NOTE: Do not take your vehicle to a non-STAR test-and-repair station for CAP repairs. BAR is only authorized to reimburse STAR test-and-repair stations that have entered into an agreement with BAR to perform CAP repairs. BAR will not reimburse consumers.

Can I designate another person to take my vehicle to the STAR test-and-repair station?

Yes, the registered vehicle owner(s) may designate another person to take their vehicle to the STAR test-and-repair station and authorize the repairs. The designee is required to provide the STAR test-and-repair station the following:

  • A valid photo identification.
  • A designation form completed by the registered vehicle owner(s).
  • A copy of the registered vehicle owner’s valid photo identification.

Is there a deadline for repairing my vehicle?

Yes, repairs must begin on or before the expiration date indicated on your letter of eligibility.

I’m unable to take my vehicle for repairs before the expiration date indicated on my letter of eligibility. Can I still participate?

If the repairs do not begin on or before the expiration date, you will need to reapply for repair assistance. Participation is based on meeting eligibility requirements at the time of reapplication and the availability of funds each fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).

What costs am I responsible for paying?

You must pay the STAR test-and-repair station a co-payment toward the total cost of diagnosis and emissions-related repairs. The co-payment is based on the model year of your vehicle and the total cost of diagnosis and emissions-related repairs.

Model Year 1976-1995 Vehicles

Total Cost of Diagnosis and Emissions-Related Repairs Your Co-Payment Example
$1,125 or less 20% of the total cost If the total cost is $500, your co-payment will be $100.
More than $1,125 Subtract $900 from the total cost If the total cost is $1,400, your co-payment will be $500.

Model Year 1996 and Newer Vehicles

Total Cost of Diagnosis and Emissions-Related Repairs Your Co-Payment Example
$1,500 or less 20% of the total cost If the total cost is $1,000, your co-payment will be $200.
More than $1,500 Subtract $1,200 from the total cost If the total cost is $2,000, your co-payment will be $800.

NOTE: You are responsible for paying any additional costs, including:

  • The cost of repairs not authorized through CAP.
  • The cost of repairs not related to the Smog Check inspection failure.
  • The Smog Check certificate fee of $8.25.

The repair assistance contribution does not cover the total cost to repair my vehicle. What are my options?

If the total cost of emissions-related repairs exceeds the maximum repair assistance contribution, you may:

  • Continue with the repair process and pay for additional repair costs yourself.
  • Retire or replace your vehicle.
  • Call the Smog Check Referee Program at (800) 622-7733 for information about a one-time repair cost waiver.

Will BAR reimburse me for repairs performed on my vehicle before my application was approved?

No, BAR will not reimburse consumers.

Why did the STAR test-and-repair station require an additional Smog Check inspection before performing CAP repairs on my vehicle?

STAR test-and-repair stations are responsible for verifying and documenting the current condition of a vehicle. The station must perform an additional Smog Check inspection to determine the vehicle’s current condition as it relates to the emissions failure prior to recommending or performing CAP repairs.

Can a STAR test-and-repair station decline to work on my vehicle?

Yes, STAR test-and-repair stations have the discretion to not accept vehicles for any of the following reasons:

  • The vehicle is inaccessible, unsafe, or untestable.
  • The station does not have the expertise to diagnose and repair your specific vehicle.
  • The consumer is uncooperative or unwilling to work within CAP guidelines.

The STAR test-and-repair station is uncooperative or unwilling to work within CAP guidelines. What can I do?

If you encounter issues with a station, you may call CAP at (866) 272-9642.

A vehicle can fail a Smog Check inspection for a variety of reasons. BAR will only reimburse a STAR test-and-repair station for emissions-related repairs necessary to correct Smog Check inspection failure(s) identified on the Vehicle Inspection Report.

The general categories for emissions-related repairs covered by CAP, include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Positive crankcase ventilation systems
  • Exhaust gas recirculation systems
  • Evaporative emissions control systems
  • Computer systems
  • Ignition systems
  • Fuel systems
  • Engine and mechanical systems related to emissions performance
  • Exhaust emissions control systems

What repairs are not covered by CAP?

BAR does not provide repair assistance for repairs or maintenance services that are not related to a vehicle’s Smog Check inspection failure. Repairs and maintenance services not covered by CAP include, but are not limited to:

  • Body repairs
  • Brakes
  • Completing OBD II drive cycles
  • Fuel
  • Glass repairs
  • Heating ventilation and air conditioning repairs
  • Mufflers
  • Oil and fluid top-offs
  • Oil treatments
  • Radiators
  • Repairs performed after the vehicle is certified
  • Repairs performed without the consumer's authorization
  • Safety-related equipment (e.g., air bags, seat belts)
  • Suspension
  • Tailpipes
  • Tires
  • Transmission flushes
  • Water pumps
  • 2004 and older Nissan product knock sensor

Have more questions?

For more information, call (866) 272-9642. Agents are available to answer calls Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding state holidays.