We are Committed to Consumer Protection
The Bureau of Automotive Repair protects Californians through effective oversight of the automotive repair industry and administration of vehicle emissions reduction and safety programs.
A fair and ethical automotive repair marketplace and improved air quality.
A Brief History
The Bureau of Automotive Repair (Bureau) was established within the California Department of Consumer Affairs (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 automotive repair industry, the Act established the Bureau as the licensing and regulatory authority over automotive repair dealers. The Act also gave the Bureau authority to license and regulate stations and individuals that perform services in the areas of brake and lamp inspection and repair, later expanded to include vehicle safety systems services.
In 1982, California became the 20th state in the nation to adopt a vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance (Smog Check) program. Pursuant to SB 33 (Presley, Chapter 892, Statutes of 1982), the Bureau became the administrator of the California Smog Check Program in 1984, beginning its work to help the state meet its emissions reduction goals.
Today, from its headquarters in Rancho Cordova and 12 field offices stationed throughout the state, the Bureau partners with consumers, the automotive repair industry, other governmental agencies, and its two advisory bodies—the Bureau Advisory Group and the Educational Advisory Group—to develop and improve programs vital to Californians.
Consumer Protection Services
Focusing on its mission to protect consumers and the environment, the Bureau provides a wide range of services:
- Licenses and regulates approximately 35,000 California automotive repair dealers.
- Licenses Smog Check stations, repair technicians, and inspectors.
- Licenses brake and lamp stations and adjusters1.
- Mediates automotive repair complaints, saving 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.
- Performs no-cost inspections of collision-related repairs to help ensure the safety of consumers and their vehicles.
- Administers and enforces the Smog Check Program.
- Helps to keep California’s air clean by reducing air pollution produced by motor vehicles.
1 Pursuant to AB 471 (Low, Chapter 372, Statutes of 2021), vehicle safety systems licenses will replace lamp and brake licenses, effective January 1, 2024.
Recent Accomplishments and Highlights
- Electronic Estimates and Authorizations – In 2018, the Bureau adopted regulations allowing automotive repair dealers to send electronic estimates to customers via text or other electronic communication and to receive electronic authorizations from customers for automotive repairs.
- Automotive Training – In 2019, the Bureau implemented the Cars for Schools program to increase hands-on training opportunities for automotive repair students. Vehicles scheduled for retirement are donated to public high schools, community colleges, and regional occupational training programs throughout the state.
- Licensing Assistance – The Bureau implemented expedited licensing processes to assist applicants who served as active members of the military and were honorably discharged, spouses/domestic partners of active-duty military members, refugees, asylees, and holders of special immigrant visas.
- Vehicle Safety Recall Awareness – The Bureau partnered with CARFAX and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation to incorporate vehicle safety recall information into the Smog Check Program in April 2020. Consumers are notified if their vehicle has open safety recalls at the time of inspection; recall details are printed on the vehicle inspection report provided to consumers after each Smog Check. The Bureau also partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and 13 vehicle manufacturers to mail letters to nearly 1.3 million vehicle owners in California affected by Takata air bag recalls. California air bag recall repairs increased by 64% following the outreach campaign.
- Smog Check Assistance – In 2020, the Bureau increased the state’s contribution towards emission repairs under the Consumer Assistance Program from a maximum of $500 to $1,200 for eligible consumers.
- Auto Shop Locator – Launched in 2020, this mobile-friendly web application allows consumers to perform location-based searches of licensed automotive repair shops. Consumers can filter their search by automotive repair categories such as auto body and transmission repairs, or automotive services such as Smog Check or brake and lamp inspections. The locator also clearly identifies licensees who are on probation or the subject of a pending disciplinary action by the Bureau.